Anecdotes and Testimonies of Pope Luciani
VENETIAN TESTIMONIES AND OTHERS (Part III)
Controversy for an offensive letter
On "Il Gazzettino" (August 30th, 2003) there was a letter written by don Enrico Torta, parish Priest of Ca' Vio (Patriarchy of Venice), regarding the Cause of Beatification of Pope Luciani, that has provoked several comments of dissaproval, to which I join from this page as author of this website and deep fan of Pope Luciani. I want to add the shame I feel because, having been Luciani his Bishop and father, that Priest wanted to put himself in the Holy Father's shoes and, in a certain sense, disapproving the free choice of John Paul II to authorize the beginning of the Cause of Beatification. May the Lord forgive the offense to the Universal Church.
Gloria C. Molinari
Venice, January 5th, 2004
Here the whole letter and then two of the replies to the Venetian parish Priest:
"The Church must know to pick new things"
I allow myself an opinion after having read the article on Patriarch Albino Luciani.
This is not the time neither for ritual adulations nor for controversies. Perhaps, this one is the time of silence on the past and a big freedom on the present. Silence and esteem to each other will be the winning binomial. We are all, don't let us forget it, from the Pope downwards, partial readers of the History: only together, as humble brothers of truth, we will be able to have "Christ our justice" in our hearts. By now, every day, we are all under the sign of an infinite mercy. We are saints, we know that, not because we are good, but because the only good, if we believe really on Him, He has santified us for ever.
Nobody can forget the big openings been born with the Council. I have lived in full the '68 with all its utopies and its dreams and with sorrow in my heart for many roads made in eagerness and in blood.
I am not a Priest or a lay of the"intellighenzia": I'm a normal Priest, who made his six years of Theology, to whom likes to listen and reflect; if possible to read and understand. Above all, to confront.
I think everyone of us, if we have the pure heart, have in ourselves, in the admirabile faces of the truth, a fragment of the Christ's light.
The important thing is to put it on the table, to dialogue, to estimate each other in a true "eimpathy". Venice is not an ordinary city: it has been and it is a crossroads of strong thoughts and strong problems on the man. Don't let us forget what the reality of Marghera has been for us. The Council has come, has put the Word in the center, has invited us to inculturation, has told us to raise well the antennas on the "signs of times".
Faith is not a religious consumption: it is a risk played with Christ on a Crucified God. Some people, perhaps afraid of going with the boat "to the center of the lake, between the waves", have preferred to throw the anchor on the "ancient things" without wanting to discover and pick, in the divine net, the "new things".
The Church can't be the place of the "quiet, don't move": it is against Hope. The goodness, today, in these times of difficult cultural transition, can't be anymore just a smile or words of attractive emotion.
Bigger goodness is to walk together, with effort and patience, on the roads of listening to each other. Without shutting anybody up, in fraternal humility, without assigning us securities but just the Cross and the Easter of Christ, without influential and often authoritarian dictats.
If the Holy See will raise Pope Luciani to the altars, I will be happy for that. And I also will pray him, in my way. But honestly, we are a little bit overdone.
According to me if, instead of being don Enrico, I could be "dressed on white", I still before would put on the altar a mother of my parish who, from almost fifty years ago, is crucified of love with her handicapped son and she kisses him like the first day, living icon of a God who becomes flesh in the silence of so much unknown mankind.
don Enrico Torta,
parish Priest of Ca' Vio
from "Il Gazzettino", August 30th, 2003
Don Cesare Vazza replies the Venetian Priest on Pope Luciani: "He was a teacher of humility: if only all we had a bit of it"
The letter of don Enrico Torta, parish Priest of Ca' Vio, in the Venetian zone, published by "Il Gazzettino" some days ago, is making the Agordinian zone debate. The words written on Pope Albino Luciani, ex Patriarch of Venice, are not passed unnoticed. The first one who remarks that is don Cesare Vazza, parish Priest at the Agordinian Valley who, without delaying, arrives to conclude that the image of Luciani (that emerges from the article) is very far from the truth.
"Afraid? Closed? Authoritarian? I sincerely will say - don Vazza replying the Priest of Venice - that he doesn't know the true Luciani, but superficially. True, he also had limits as every human person and recognized them humbly. Even if he was under the sign of the infinite mercy of God and for this he himself has been sanctified in the fidelity to the daily life, carrying his cross until death".
Between don Enrico Torta's affirmations on the article "the church must know to pick new things" also this one: "If the Holy See will raise Pope Luciani to the altars, I will be happy for that. And I also will pray him, in my way. But honestly, we are a little bit overdone. According to me if, instead of being don Enrico, I could be "dressed on white", I still before would put on the altar a mother of my parish who, from almost fifty years ago, is crucified of love with her handicapped son and she kisses him like the first day".
Don Vazza agrees on this, on the fact that there are many mothers crucified of love who deserve the halo of holiness. But the Agordinian parish Priest does not hesitate to ask: "And what about Pope Luciani?". From here the answer to don Enrico Torta. "Why does the parish Priest of Ca' Vio want to play the part of the devil in the process of Beatification, when opportunely will officially be appointed one? We Priests must have the ingenuousness and the pretension of preventing the wisdom of the Church. It's enough to listen and meditate the words said by the actual Pope in the last August 28th audience: Luciani was, first of all, teacher of faith, without surrending to transitory and society fashions. He was a shepherd close to people, with serenity and equilibrium. Humility always was the rule of life for him". Don Cesare Vazza's conclusion is bitter: "If only we had a bit of this humility".
The parish Priest of the Valley also speaks about bitterness and perplexity: he does it coming back to the Saturday article. "It's an article veiled by many shadows. First of all, the "don" means (between the lines) that the celebrations for the XXV of Pope Luciani's election are ritual adulations. He means Luciani has been a fearful one who has preferred to throw the anchor on the ancient things, without wanting to discover and to pick up, in the divine net, the new things. He means Luciani's goodness was only a smile. Instead it's to walk together, with effort and patience, on the roads of listening to each other. Without shutting anybody up, in fraternal humility, without assigning us securities, without influential and often authoritarian dictats".
from "Il Gazzettino", September 2nd, 2003
"Albino Luciani, the smiling Pope!"
He smiles and will always smile to all from Heaven. (Fragment from the article in reply to the Venetian Priest)
(...) I was terrified when reading, on "Il Gazzettino" last August 30th, the letter of a parish Priest of the Venetian Diocese who concluded his long historical-eclesial vent (it should have been a reflection on Albino Luciani), invoking that "if the Holy See will elevate Pope Luciani to the altars, I will be happy for that. And I also will pray him, in my way. But honestly, we are a little bit overdone. According to me if, instead of being don Enrico, I could be "dressed on white", I still before would put on the altar a mother of my parish who, from almost fifty years ago, is crucified of love with her handicapped son... ".
Dear don Enrico, I don't know you but your words have let me perplexed not a little!
I allow myself to remember you that you should know, unfortunately there are many of these saints on earth like that mother of your parish, and every day between us, but you should also remember that those good and elected spirits go straight, straight, in Paradise, without any process of Beatification. And, believe me, you could save the term "overdone"; it is not of taste and it's out of place, above all if it's written by you who are a Priest. Pope Luciani will know how to smile to all, also to whom is expressing himself with insolence towards him. He will keep on smiling the whole world and living in the faith of many people, of many young people who moreover have not known him while still alive but who will be able to appreciate him through his writtings and his teachings that are always topical.
President Archiconfraternita Misericordia
Magazine "Messaggio dell'Arciconfraternita di S. Cristoforo e della Misericordia di Venezia"
Nr. 4, 2003
San Francesco della Vigna's parish Priest, Fr. Adriano, has told me Patriarch Luciani used to go to his parish. Above all, when he had problems, he remained for lunch or dinner or even for sleeping in a cell prepared by the brothers.
Father Adriano Campesato O.F.M.
from a talk with the author
The 70's: the difficult years...
In those years, the religious Venice perceived the spiritual ferments that shoke the entire Catholic Church. As city of culture, it was shaken by art, history, political and civil problems. As an industrial city (Mestre and Marghera), since the first times of his mission, the new Patriarch was interested on the development of the mainland that favoured the multiplication of workers families which, after giving up fields for factories, asked Priests and churches, but, against, the emigration from the historical center and the islands proceeded unstoppable.
His action was always guided by equilibrium due to inner serenity and clearness, clearness on the speech about abortion, divorce and the Marxist ideology that gave him much bitterness coming from groups of Christians from the so-called "opening", demonstrating deep clearness and study while evaluating events like violence and terrorism that caused Aldo Moro's murder.
But, exactly, this his behavior in perfect line with the instructions of the Council Vatican II and Paul VI's messages, caused on him, as said above, much sorrow. How much Albino Luciani has suffered during his patriarchy in Venice! A lot, perhaps too much. The 70's have been marked by controversies and polemics inside the Church, fomented by some Priests, too.
About his thought regarding violence, he was accused of smuggling ideological and political choices all debatable, etc. In those same weeks, the ACLI (Italian Catholic Workers Associations) invited their members to join the new group of the "Manifest", coming from the PCI (Italian Comunist Party) and also single supporters to the FUCI (Italian Catholic Universitary Federation) kept in this position. Other controversies marked the inside of the Diocese in the occasion of Paul VI's visit in 1972.
Some Priests were against the Patriarch and built a group of worker Priests. The revolutionary vanguard and the vanguard of the Clergy were together. On March 1st, 1972 Luciani replies some parish Priests, who asked explanations, with a letter to the Seminary Superiors in which he indicates "the characteristics of the true Priest" among them: obedience and meekness to the Pope and the Patriarch. A group of Priests wrote a letter to the Vatican asking Luciani to be removed from Venice. All this caused on him one of the deepest sorrows of his patriarchy. He knew the letter and did not take any measure against the signers.
The 1974 referendum on divorce still provoked disagreement between the Clergy and some of them signed in favour to divorce. The FUCI publishes a booklet in favour. Then the Patriarch dissolves the FUCI and wrote the parish Priests to read the Notification of the Bishops, without adding any comment. "Roma locuta est, causa finita est" (Roma has spoken, the cause has ended"), said St. Augustin and our Patriarch. I have personally heard that as a private person he could also have been able to discuss on some aspect but, as a Bishop, he totally had to accept the teachments of the Church.
So Cardinal Luciani lived in his Diocese the same controversies of the Universal Church. And, above all, he felt how much was put in doubt the Holy Father's authority. That's why he oriented his Teachment towards a total obedience and in a rigorous doctrinal orthodoxy.
When he preached, it was the language of the people's faith, not that of the intellighentia. It was, above all, the language of every Christian man.
So, hard and difficult years and, for some, to forget, but also years that showed us the true face of that one who will become the "smiling Pope" for thirty days.
So, neither extremism nor centralism, but rigorous and orthodox doctrine.
Msgr. Gino Bortolan
from "Humilitas", April 2003
"I go and fulfill my duty of Bishop"
The church of the Sacred Heart in Mestre, managed by the Franciscan order, has been target of critics, coming, or from persons of the Venetian Church or from outside the Church, due to its price. It was wanted by Card. Urbani and blessed (not consecrated) by Patriarch Luciani on August 15th, 1971. The opponents had arrived up to threaten of occupying the yard, where it was being built in via Aleardi, by a part of young people who came, above all, from the Faculty of Architecture of Venice. Then they did not make it. The opponents had also showed their disagreement with coarse and threatening writtings on the new church walls.
Father Antonio Vitale Bommarco, Archbishop emeritus of Gorizia, was the maker and supporter of the new church. In an interview given to Fr. Luigi Ruffato, he has told what Patriarch Luciani said when he blessed the church:
"I remember well what he told me: "Some opponents have come and to invite me not to bless the new church of the Sacred Heart of Mestre. I answered: 'I go and fulfill my duty of Bishop' ". Patriarch Luciani was glad of our plan of church. We have not received letters from opponent Priests, even if someone has spoken against that during the Religion class at the high schools".
from the book "Cinquant'anni di vita cristiana" 1952-2002
Parroquia del S. Cuore di Venezia-Mestre
by the friars Luigi Francisco Ruffato and Andrea Vaona
Your are no more like once!
Testinony given by the same Albino Luciani when he was seminarist and the parish Priest exhorted him:
How many times he told me: "I always pray the Lord you can become a Priest but, if you don't want to keep on going ahead, look, you are free; don't take consideration on me!". They were questions, prayers and exhortations learnt - I think I'm sure - from the parish Priest to whom I made be worried during one of the school holidays. In that occasion, he didn't avoid giving me advices and warnings, also sad: "You are no more like once! You are inattentive, unobedient, not much pious!". Not having got much, unfortunately, here it's him, the last day of holidays, with a report to fill for the Rector on his desk. I'm stood up; he is sat down; he writes but, some time, stops. I see he is perplexed. He shakes his head. I feel guilty indeed and unhappy. Finally, he finishes writing; he signs, puts the parish stamp, closes the letter and delivers it to me and says: "I couldn't avoid writing the Rector I was not glad with you this year. I advise you, rather, I ask him to punish you". He wasn't indeed one of those who forgives and defends everything!
Msgr.Albino Luciani, Bishop
from an homily, September 20th, 1961
"Opera Omnia", 1988
Home - Anecdotes and Testimonies - Part I - Part II - Part III - Part IV - Part V - Part VI - Part VII - Part VIII - Part IX - Part X - Part XI - Part XII - Part XIII - Part XIV - Part XV
GCM 2001 - 2004