John Paul I, Pope of Vatican II

October 19, 2022

The beatification of John Paul I on September 4, 2022, reinforces the impression that Francis wanted to canonize all the popes of the Council, and with them, Vatican II itself.

During his homily, the sovereign pontiff hailed the legacy of his predecessor, that of “a Church with a joyful, serene and smiling face, which never closes its doors, which does not harden hearts, which does not complain and who does not harbor resentment, who is neither angry nor intolerant, who does not scowl, who does not suffer from nostalgia for the past.”

This “resentment,” this “anger,” this “intolerance,” this “scowl,” and this “nostalgia for the past” always target, to use Francis’s words, the priests and faithful attached to Tradition.

In an interview granted to Camille Dalmas of the Roman agency I.Media, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, insisted on emphasizing the fidelity of John Paul I, who reigned only 34 days, to the doctrine promoted by Vatican II.

To the question, “What are the great lessons that you draw from this pontificate?” the high prelate replied: “His main teaching was that of the Council. He was a man of the Council and sought precisely to translate the teaching of the Council into pastoral life.”

And to show a similarity, fundamental in his eyes, between John Paul I and Francis: “The two popes have affinities. Like his predecessor, Pope Francis is very attentive to simplicity. They both have great communication skills. Luciani was a great communicator. They also share a desire to continue the legacy of the Second Vatican Council. I would see their fundamental affinity in this last point.”

To the question: “In his Urbi et Orbi message of August 27, 1978, John Paul I describes his six wishes for the Church: the continuation of the Second Vatican Council, the maintenance of discipline within the Church,  evangelization, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, and peace. Did he set a course with this speech for his successors?” Cardinal Parolin gives an answer that sheds light on the very rapid beatifications and canonizations of post-conciliar popes.

John Paul I was beatified only 44 years after his premature death: “Yes,” Parolin said, “this is the line that all the pontiffs have followed. This step was particularly important for Albino Luciani, since he was the immediate successor of Paul VI, who had closed the Council and begun the phase of its implementation.”

“A phase that he considered more facile and which turned out to be more complex. The very choice of the name of John Paul, that of the two Popes of the Council, is significant. John XXIII made him a bishop and Paul VI a cardinal, but the choice of this name was above all linked to the continuation of the Council.”

“And he gave an orientation on this point to his successor, and I believe that both John Paul II and Pope Francis took up these six programmatic points to integrate the choices of the Council in depth and with force. ”