by Lori Pieper
Bishop Andrich of Belluno: “The Beatification Process is in its Final Phase.”
Canale d’Agordo, August 26, 2015
The 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)
The 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