Pope John Paul I May Soon be Declared Venerable

“The heroic virtues of John Paul I will soon be proclaimed,” Stefania Falasca, the vice-postulator of his cause for canonization, announced on August 25, 2017 in an article in the Italian Catholic daily Avvenire. “The congress of theologians has already expressed a positive vote on the question this past June 1. There remains now the vote of the bishops and cardinals, which is expected by the end of the year.”

The 5 volumes of Pope John Paul I’s Positio

The news was welcomed with great emotion by the people of Albino Luciani’s hometown, Canale d’Agordo, as they gathered on August 26 for the Mass for the thirty-ninth anniversary of the papal election of the man who is still known to everyone in his native mountain province as “Don Albino. “We are awaiting with confidence further recognition of the heroic way that Luciani practiced the Christian virtues,” Renato Marangoni, the bishop of Belluno, who was the celebrant, told the congregation.

The curia (chancery office) of the diocese of Belluno celebrated the “splendid results” for the cause that was begun almost fourteen years ago, in November 2003, by the then-bishop of the diocese Vincenzo Savio. After a number of years of work, the Positio on Luciani’s virtues was submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on October 17, 2016 (his birthday).

Later this year, the bishops and cardinals of the congregation will vote, and if the results are positive, they will be submitted to Pope Francis, who will decide whether to declare Luciani “Venerable.” Many in Canale d’Agordo hope that this declaration will come at the beginning of 2018, the fortieth anniversary of his election.

Stefania Falasca, the Vice-Postulator of John Paul I’s cause, with Fr. Vincenzo Criscuolo, OFM Cap., Relator General of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

If one of the miracles under investigation is certified, he might even be beatified towards the end of that year, though the process on a miracle is also a lengthy one: after the diocesan process, a panel of doctors needs to vote on it, as does the congregation.

Many devotees of Papa Luciani, including a dozen priests and all the mayors of the local towns were among the congregation in the newly restored church in Canale d’Agordo. “This is the decisive year,” said the bishop who, turning almost into Luciani’s “fan”, exclaimed “Forza!” (i.e. “go team!”)

At the end of September, Marangoni will lead the people of Belluno and Feltre on pilgrimage to Rome to pray at the tomb of the “Smiling Pope.”

Reporting from Avvenire, August 25, 2017 and Il Corriere delle Alpi, August 27, 2017.

Lori Pieper


The Positio Has Been Completed With the Testimony of Benedict XVI

by Romina Gobbo Now as then. On June 8, 2003, an ovation in the church in Canale Agordo greeted the news, given by the then bishop of Belluno-Feltre, Vincenzo Savio, that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints had given a positive judgment on beginning the canonical process on the sainthood of their fellow-villager Albino Luciani, who had ascended to the papal throne on August 26, 1978 with the name John Paul I, and who therefore from that moment on would be considered “Servant of God.” (The official opening of the process took place the following November 23 in the … Continue reading →

Pope John Paul I’s Positio Now Finished

by Lori Pieper

Bishop Andrich of Belluno: “The Beatification Process is in its Final Phase.”

Canale d’Agordo, August 26, 2015

1333CNS-JPIWEB2The Positio on Papa Luciani has been finished. The announcement was made yesterday afternoon in the main square of Canale d’Agordo, at the beginning of memorial Mass for the 37th anniversary of Albino Luciani’s election as Pope. The Bishop of Belluno, Giuseppe Andrich, told the faithful that an important stage had been reached in the process, one that should lead to the beatification of Pope John Paul I.

“To all of you who devotedly admire the personality of Albino Luciani and who venerate his reputation for holiness,” Bishop Andrich said, “I announce with joy that the cause for the beatification is entering its final phase. The Positio has been finished; that is, the collection of fundamental documents and testimonies that will place clearly before the authority of the Pope the reasons for recognizing the heroic nature of his virtues.”

But there was another surprise announcement as well. When the Positio had already been finished, Andrich said, “Pope Benedict also wanted to insert his personal testimony. It is the first time that this has happened in the history of the Church. The Pope does not give testimony on future saints, because he must evaluate and judge and decide on the heroic nature of their virtues, their beatification, and then eventually their canonization.” (see sidebar story below)

Andrich2The completion of the Positio opens the way, after the documents have been studied, for John Paul I to be named Venerable. After that the only remaining requirement for beatification is a miracle attributed to his intercession. One miracle for the cause has already been examined and was recently rejected by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Andrich did not adress the question of a miracle in his talk.

Before Bishop Andrich made his announcement, the mayor of Canale d’Agordo, Rinaldo De Rocco, also spoke. “Pope Francis has decided that this is the Year of Mercy,” he said. “Papa Luciani had already made these words his own 40 years ago. He was a merciful person: he used to go visit the sick and help the poor, he would bring a comforting word of greeting to the workers. He was a precursor of Pope Francis. And it delights us to see this Pope retrace the stages of Papa Luciani’s journey. May the word mercy return to our souls and may our bodies be able to act accordingly.”

The Archbishop of Trent, Luigi Bressan, presided over the celebration and gave the homily. He himself had been working in the Vatican Secretariat of State for two years at the time of John Paul I’s election. He said that he and hs colleagues “admired an innovative Pope, with an ability for quick decision-making, beginning with the adoption of a composite name, as had never happened in the history of the Church. . . We followed with respect and admiration the vast dedication of John Paul I to the whole world.” A dedication that lead the new Pope “to immediately be concerned about contact with everyone, in his desire to reach everyone; he brought a new atmosphere of communication between the Pope and his people and we were all filled with joy.” Just before giving the final blessing, he said, “Until we meet again at the proclamation of John Paul I as Venerable and Blessed.”

Reporting by Gianni Santomaso in Corriere delle Alpi, 8/27/15 and Giuseppe Bratti in L’Avvenire 08/27/2015

Pope Benedict’s Testimony

Readers might be puzzling over Bishop Andrich’s words “The Pope does not give testimony on future saints, because he must evaluate and judge and decide on the heroic nature of their virtues, their beatification, and then eventually their canonization.” If this is true, how did Pope Emeritus Benedict come to testify? At the moment nothing but this statement is available. Here is a possible reconstruction, based on known facts.

Joseph Ratzinger and Albino Luciani knew each other as cardinals, first meeting in 1977. Ratzinger received a very strong impression of Luciani’s holiness from that first encounter. Visiting Luciani’s native diocese of Belluno in 2004, he told reporters: “I pray every day for [his] beatification; Papa Luciani is an example for all.”

Testimonies were taken for the diocesan process for John Paul I from 2003 to 2006. During the latter part of this period, officials for the cause traveled to Rome to interview witnesses living there who had known Luciani. By that time Ratzinger had lived in Rome for some 23 years as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and would have looked forward to giving his testimony. But then on April 19, 2005, he became Pope Benedict XVI, and as the reigning Pope, he wouldn’t have been able to testify.

Now that Benedict is no longer the reigning Pope, the prohibition doesn’t hold, because he no longer has any jurisdiction over saints’ causes. So he apparently he asked that his testimony to John Paul I be inserted at last in the official records of his cause.

Quote by Ratzinger from Zenit 10/20/2004

A Setback but Also Hope for Pope John Paul I’s Cause

By Lori Pieper The cause for Pope John Paul I’s canonization seems to be at a standstill for now. One difficulty is that for the documentation to be completed, the remaining part of the Positio must be submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The Positio contains the testimonies on a person’s virtues, a biography and a summary of the case for the person’s canonization, including pros and cons. The first part of John Paul I’s Positio was submitted in October 2012, and work is continuing on the second part. A greater difficulty is that the miracle submitted … Continue reading →

John Paul I’s Cause to Advance another Step

I missed this when it first came out, but it is great news. John Paul I’s cause for beatification is clearing a final hurdle: Beginning in September, the documents can be considered by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The Positio was turned in more or less symbolically two years ago, on the centenary of his birth, but some parts were still incomplete. It was prepared by Signora Stefania Falasca, who was finishing up her doctoral dissertation during the centenary, and so had less time to work on the cause. She also contributed a paper to our 2012 conference … Continue reading →