Pope John Paul I’s Cause is about to make a significant leap forward. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican Secretary of State, announced last week that the document advancing the beatification of “the Smiling Pope” will be submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints this autumn.
The position, prepared by the postulator, sets out the pros and cons of the case for beatification. Once it is submitted, theologian consultants to the congregation and the Promoter of Faith (popularly called the Devil’s Advocate) vote on whether to approve it for further consideration; if they do it is then put to members of the congregation for their approval. Then the Cause will be presented to Pope Francis.
Cardinal Albino Luciani, Patriarch of Venice, was elected Pope on August 26 1978. Born in 1912 he was ordained a priest in 1935 at the age of 22, and became
Bishop of Vittorio Veneto in 1958. His sudden death on September 28 after just 33 days in office led to conspiracy theories that he had been murdered.
The process towards John Paul I’s canonisation began with a petition by Brazilian bishops and cardinals in 1990. In 2003 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints gave its approval, and documents and testimonies began to be collected.
For beatification one certified miracle is necessary; for canonisation two miracles are normally required, though this was waived by Pope Francis in the case of St John XXIII. One miracle has already been attributed to John Paul I’s intercession: the healing of Giuseppe Denora from a malignant stomach tumour in 1992.
John Paul I was declared a Servant of God by his successor in 2003. The next step is for Pope Francis to declare him Venerable. The only 20th century popes who have not yet begun the process toward sainthood are Benedict XV and Pius XI.
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