Articles from the Argentinian Press

( Part II )


" John Paul I and Argentina "


Magazine "Radiolandia 2000", September 1978



John Paul I is not Argentinian due to the First World War 

CANALE D'AGORDO, ITALY, by Natalio Gorin. Photos: Carlos Fraga (especial correspondent).  

From Rome to Belluno takes us ten hours by express train. Then, from Belluno to Canale D'Agordo, half an hour by taxi, following a way of 45 km that seems to be drawn in the middle of the valley formed by the Agordinian mountains (though some of them say "pre-Alps"). It is Veneto region, Northern Italy.

Finally, Canale D'Agordo. A notice indicates we are one thousand metres above sea level. There are a thousand inhabitants. A village ? Yes, taken from a postcard, like others that we saw on the way. Nobody is affected by the arrival of two journalists. On the contrary, they all want to collaborate : for a few days, they have been converted into the Pope's 'countrymen', and want to shout this pride to the world.


Edoardo Luciani 's house (he is a retired teacher) is not different from the rest, rather, it is one of the simplest, and makes me think that here also are pensioners ... must protest under the sun of the square. Luciani opens  his house doors to me with sincerity, even with affection when I tell him I am Argentinian. However, welcoming journalists has also become a routine for him. 

- Do you know how many of them have come? I am amazed, they come from all parts of the world. And you are not the last ones; I was already notified of many more visits. 

- Did you speak with your brother? 

- One day after his election. I noticed he was very calm. That made me feel quiet, too, because I was very nervous - for Albino, for our sister Antonia, who lives in Trento ... and for all this, you can  imagine, can't you ? A brother a Pope, like this, suddenly... 

- Did you believe in Albino's possibilities? 

- I was sure ! As soon as I knew about Paul VI 's death (he was a great man!), I thought about my brother. But it is one thing to think about it and another to watch him going out to Saint Peter's balcony already created a Pope. The emotion overcame me, it was stronger than me. 

- Was your father in Argentina? 

- If it hadn't been for the First World War, the whole family would have gone away to Argentina. My father was there during 1913 and 1914, being employed as bricklayer in La Plata. Here he left Mom and Albino, with the idea of calling them as soon as he could raise some money. However,   war was declared and he came back to be with them. Later the family was increased (Albino is going to be 66 years, I am 62 and Antonia 58), and Dad decided to remain to work in Europe, here, in France, in Switzerland ... he went and came back. 

- According to the official biography of the Vatican, your father was socialist. Did Albino collide with him when he told him he was thinking about the priesthood? 

- Dad was a socialist, true, but not an extremist: we can say better a social democrat. Dad was in France when Albino asked his permission to enter the Seminary. I recall my brother still keeps the letter with the answer: Dad was telling him that if that was his vocation, he was not going to put any obstacle in his way,  in order that he might be able to fulfil it. 

- You, Edoardo, how many children have you ? 

- Nine. Here at home I have all the four minors; the others are working in other cities: you know, a small village has few possibilities for the children.


Small village, according to Edoardo Luciani. But it has a Church and a  Parish Priest; he is Rinaldo Andrich. 

- I watched TV, when they announced Albino Luciani's name. My happiness was so great that I made the bells ring for two hours. The people filled the church but, because it is small, many people followed the Mass from the Square. 

- A few moments ago, Edoardo told me he was sure of his brother's election ... 

- Well, I think Edoardo never forgot Paul VI 's gesture, on September 16th, 1972, when he visited Venice. Then, in the middle of St. Mark's Square, the Pope placed his stole on Albino Luciani 's shoulders; Albino was Cardinal of Venice ... (n. f. a. he was not a Cardinal, yet) 

- What do you think: was it a friendly gesture or something more? 

- Something more: he was indicating his successor.


We return to Belluno; to the Gregorian Seminary where John Paul I was ordained as a Priest in 1935 (n. f. a. the ordination took place in the church Saint Peter in Belluno). Its Director, Monsignor Ottorino Pierobon, knows well the new Pontiff 's personality. 

- He was my teacher, here, in the same Seminary. Luciani is an exceptional human being, and he has a special sense to make an exposition : he does not sell ideas, but he communicates convictions. From there his language: simple and deep simultaneously. I remember his passion for  history,  literature and even the cinema - which he introduced as a subject in the Seminary.


Belluno, See of the diocese, had as General Vicar the current Pope, between 1948 and 1954. This place belongs now to Ausilio Da Rif, 'countryman' of Albino Luciani. 

- We are from the same village, Canale D'Agordo, but as he is some years older, I was hardly aware of his personality when he was my Vice-Rector in the Seminary. 

- How could you define him?

- As a man of great nobility;  intelligent and with a special gift for dealing with people. 

- In Rome, some people say he is so much or more intellectual than Paul VI. What do you think ?

- They have different characteristics. Luciani is the intellectual one, right, but a shepherd; he was very in touch with the people. Don't forget that Luciani was a Priest in very small parishes, teacher in a seminary, Bishop and Cardinal. Paul VI, on the other hand, spent many years of his life in the Roman Curia. 

- Which can be the new Pontiff's maximum worries?

- I accompanied him to Rome when John XXIII consecrated him as Bishop of Vittorio Veneto. At that opportunity, we were together for fifteen days and I could know his thoughts. John Paul I, I am sure, has two fundamental worries: 1) The crisis of humanity and injustice: because Luciani knows thoroughly the social problems. 2) He understands the Church must renew the method of transmission of Catechism because it is the serious problem that affects it internally.


Canale D'Agordo, Belluno ..., a region, the Veneto. A son of this land has arrived to Saint Peter's throne. At Edoardo Luciani 's home the telephone does not stop ringing ...

- Yes, I am the Pope's brother. Yes, yes ... I was sure ... 


John Paul I 's relatives in Argentina



"Radiolandia 2000", September 1978




His name is Pio De Dea Luciani; he is 74 years old and has lived in our country for fifty years. We have found his house at 2200 Gorostiaga St., Santa Fe. Moved, happy, together with his wife Carolina, he tells us he heard the good news whilst at the Friulan club in the city and he gives us details of his relationship: his mother was the sister of Albino Luciani 's father. Like John Paul I she was born at Canale D' Agordo and although she is eight years elder than the Pope, they have shared their childhood because they lived at some roads of distance. When Pio decided to emigrate to Argentina, his cousin had already decided his sacerdotal vocation. They wrote to each other.




Magazine "Siete días", August 31st, 1978



Giovanni Luciani, Pope John Paul's father, has been in Argentina. However, there is no news from the European agencies that can give the right date of his entrance in the country. It is only known that he remained nearly two years here, probably during the first decade of the century. The research at the National Direction of Migrations has been useless. Only the immigrants who arrived in the country after 1923 are there - in alphabetical order. To find a person who arrived before that, to know the date of his arrival or the name of the ship on which he arrived, is nearly impossible. The inquiry to the Federal Police has turned out more positive. In the general directory  of the Police, there are more or less 30 Juan (or Giovanni) Luciani. Of those only three were Italian and, based on the date of arrival to the country (1906, 1909 and 1914), either of the three could have been the new Pope's father. However, approaching  the respective files, the hope of finding more concrete data disappeared. The three Giovanni Luciani continued living in Argentina and, according to the minimal data available, John Paul's father had spent only some months in Buenos Aires and approximately a year and a half in some city of the country. Finally, all that remained was the heroic (and  always esteemed) help of the telephone directory, where there were 79 Luciani. After the reconstruction of more than a genealogical tree,   concrete data appeared. Iris Luciani, who lives at 6500 Viedma St., at Liniers (n. f. a. quarter of Buenos Aires), could be a second cousin of the Pope: " My Dad's name was Giovanni and he arrived in Argentina in 1909. He arrived because one of his cousins, (whose name was also Giovanni and was here since a year before), had written him to come here. I think that cousin was John Paul 's father and he was living in Bahía Blanca. My Dad remained in Argentina for ever (he died in 1969), but the cousin returned to Italy in 1910. Years passed by and, in 1930, my Dad went to Italy to visit all his relatives. He again met that cousin - who had married. One of his children (Albino) was following the sacerdotal career. All Dad's family has always been very Catholic. Dad always went to Mass and, if you look at the pictures closely, he looks like the Pope. When we saw John Paul on T.V., my daughter shouted immediately : " the same ears as grandfather ". Now we are going to send a letter to the Vatican in order to confirm the relationship and have certain knowledge if we have the honour of being John Paul I 's relatives ".

Daniel Kon

Foto : Mario Paganetti




 Luciani 's families

 in provinces of Argentina


"Radiolandia 2000",

September 1978




Before the prospects of an armed conflict between Argentina and Chile, due to the territorial dispute of the Beagle Channel islands (Picton, Nueva and Lennox), the Holy Father, John Paul I, showed his evident concern in a message addressed to the Episcopal Conferences of the involved countries. Thanks to John Paul II 's mediating intervention, a short while after beginning his pontificate, it was possible to avoid the war and, finally, in 1984, the peace agreement was signed.


Gloria C. Molinari



John Paul I had interceed for the peace between Argentina and Chile

"Clarín", September 30th, 1978



Catholic Weekly Magazine "Esquiú", October 8th, 1978



John Paul I and the peace



Venerable brothers in the Episcopate:


In these moments in which, before the existing situation between the respective countries, yours shepherds' responsibility has stimulated to ask your faithful to work and pray for  peace, we want to open our spirit of Supreme Shepherd and common Father, to corroborate yours efforts in so meritorious a task.

In fact, the present circumstances, with their tensions and threats, request our attention and move our intention of sensitise to all our children and to all the persons of good will, so that the open differences do not irritate the spirits and can drive them  to unpredictable consequences. 

Without entering into technical aspects, which are out of our sphere, we want to exhort, with all the moral force at your disposition, to work for pacification, encouraging all, leaders and governed, towards goals of mutual understanding and of generous comprehension for those who, over national barriers, are brothers in humanity, children of the same Father, to Him joined by identical religious links.

It is necessary to create a widespread climate in which, bereft of any bellicose attitude or animosity, the concord reasons prevail over the forces of hate or  division -  which only leave behind destructive tracks.

We entrust to the Prince of Peace these intentions in our prayer - to which we are sure you and your faithful will be joined. On all those who collaborate with this magnificent enterprise of peace, we implore, with our Apostolic Blessing, the Lord's reward.


Vatican, September 20th, 1978

Iohannes Paulus PP. I


Catholic Weekly magazine "Esquiú", September 17th, 1978 

From an interview with the President of the Nation, Lieutenant General Jorge R. Videla

- What is the idea the Holy Father has about Argentina?

- He knows much more than one would think about our country. His father, during the time he was an emigrant, worked here for a couple of years, could undoubtedly report about our land and our people. It is  information that he was continually updating and increasing. That is why he knows our problems, our difficulties, as much as our possibilities and our accomplishments. He could calibrate those, estimate them and understand their reasons. The audience he had the kindness to grant me makes evident the love John Paul I feels for Argentina. It was also an opportunity, to confirm in his words, in his reflections, in his questions, how this love to the Argentinians is nourished in the knowledge of our reality which he has, omitting the equivocal images that may have circulated in Rome.


Catholic Weekly magazine "Esquiú", September 10th, 1978




" Monsignor Luciani was my Bishop "

His name is Juan Carlos Tondarto;  the parish Priest of  St. George in Lanús Este. He is 38 years old and native of a locality called Oderzo, which belongs to Vittorio Veneto diocese, Italy. In 1957, at the age of 17, he joined the seminary of the same diocese where he remained until 1963 when he changed, freely of his own will, to Verona Seminary for Latin America. In 1964 he was ordained by Albino Luciani, the new Pope, and one year later he came to Argentina.

However, the relationship between Father Tondarto and the Holy Father is not limited to the fact of the priestly ordination. It is that, " at the end of 1958, Luciani took charge of Vittorio Veneto diocese and, therefore, the seminary where I was was under his influence. He often visited our seminary."

After his ordination and his almost immediate transfer to Latin America, Father Tondarto continued depending on Luciani, though, logically, the relationship was by letter, except in 1969 when Tondarto met him in person to renew his contract of permanency in our country. That was their last physical contact, because in 1970, Luciani was appointed as Patriarch of Venice. Then, they were almost seven years of permanent and direct contact with the new Pope and less intense and indirect during 5 further years. From this, we can deduce the degree of knowledge Tondarto has of the new Pope and we can understand the great happiness  he has experienced since he learnt that his former Bishop had been elected as St. Peter's successor. " I was sure" says Father Tondarto  " that Luciani was going to become  Pope, also that he would be elected soon. I had a premonition, especially last week, when I saw him on T.V. entering the Sistine Chapel. I told everybody that Albino Luciani would be the new Pope ".


The first impressions


" It was at the end of 1958 when I met him -  when he visited the seminary. He had amazed all of us due to his simplicity. Physically, he was a medium build man, and correct, he used to walk quickly. It is curious, on the other hand, but when one sees Luciani it seems that one had already met him  before. That means the real greatness, is found in him ".


- What else do you remember of these first impressions?

" Ah ... his great heart, his smile, his paternity that, God desires us to understand, and his fervour for Catechism. I remember very specially an episode before my ordination."


- Why don't you tell us ?

" Well "... (with  eyes full of emotion).  "You know, when one is about to become a Priest one 'trembles', and more when the day of the ordination is the next day, and I did not know to whom to open my heart to give me quietness. I went to see Luciani, I explained to him the problem; he watched me with sweetness, with that typical smile, and he took the Gospel and read : " the power of God is shown in the weakness of men " (Father Tondarto raised his head and made a sign of satisfaction, and of that everything is said).


- What other memories have you ?

"Some sentences he always used to repeat."


- For example?

 "For example : " If you want to speak ten minutes be ready for an hour; if you want to speak for an hour, be ready for ten minutes ". Or : " The catechist has always to be the sun, sometimes wind, but rarely thunders and storms ". Sentences that, at first, seem to be simple but that hide a great wisdom. Ah ... sorry ..."


- Yes?

" I remember that, even before the Vatican Council, he was a very shy man if one was kissing his ring. Also, he was very simple, he put aside the formalities and also keen to 'serve'. He was very good at remembering faces; in fact, this characteristic was very evident in him."


His characteristics


- What was the thing you felt more impressed from Luciani ?

"Three things impressed me  the most: humility, happiness and paternity."


- Tell us about each one of these characteristics...

" The first one, humility, simplicity, which is proper of a man who does not make felt his authority, who does not put  greatness in what he is. Luciani knows well that he is a Christian, Priest, Bishop and Pope because of God's grace. That is why he never makes anyone feel as 'inferior'."


- On the second aspect ... what can you tell us?

" It is that of happiness, which is demonstrated in his open, good-humoured smile, which goes out, beyond his lips, from his heart. He also knows that the smile is a dialogue and that is why it is always present in him. When I saw him in the balcony of the basilica, smiling, greeting after his recent election, he was already speaking with the people. Happiness, then, is one of his more well-known characteristics."


- And about his paternity?

"As a Priest already he is a father, but he becomes more intense as God asks him to progress further (Bishop, Cardinal, Pope). What I like more of this paternity is a feature difficult to understand and it is the following one: today we see parents who are soft, who allow any thing, who are, rather than parents, grandfathers. While John Paul I, when he has to put on a brake, with this typical smile, will say no. I see him as father of a family who knows how to extract from his treasure the new and the old thing. I think John Paul I will be a Pope who will   remind us of  everything essential from the old, from the past. That means, he is not going to renew for the sake of renewing, but only when the old thing will not be useful any more."


- It is said that John Paul I has the same characteristics of John's XXIII (goodness) and of Paul VI (culture). What do you think ?

" John XXIII 's goodness, yes. Paul VI 's wisdom, I do not know; I think they are two different things. Each one has his own characteristics; both are teachers of faith, but it seems to me that Luciani 's style is to give examples. He takes examples, anecdotes, facts from  daily life. Therefore, he has a different language; it is not Paul VI 's way of speaking but, rather, John XXIII 's."


- First, you mentioned the fervour he has for Catechism ...

"Yes, John Paul I is, as I mentioned before, a teacher of faith, but he has a marked catechistic style, with  very simple language. His chats will be very catechistic. I also think his first encyclical letter will be about Catechism."


- Do you think he will travel very much?

" He  was always very anxious;  from that I deduce he will travel very much. He regularly visited his diocese, that is why I insist he will travel enough, without forgetting Rome, (which is his original diocese). As all, I would desire he came to Argentina in 1980, for the Marian Year. Now, if the Pope is going to come, it will be if God's spirit suggests it to him. That is why all the Argentinians must begin the campaign of prayer so that he can come. Anyway,  to dream does not cost anything ."


- Finally, according to you, which is the sentence that best defines him, John Paul I?

" The one that he has on his coat of arms "Humilitas" and " Jesus did not come to be served but to serve ".


When we were saying goodbye to Father Tondarto, he leaned towards me a little and murmured with enthusiasm: " Between us: we continue being lucky with the Popes ". John Paul I has, now, the word.

Sergio Rubín


IV Young Peregrination of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Luján, made on September 30th, 1978

Catholic Weekly magazine "Esquiú", October 8th, 1978





With all the pain and the perplexity that the sudden death of the Pontiff left, for whose intentions it was being anticipated to ask in the march, before the fears and worries of the conflict with Chile, the young prayed carrying Argentinian and Papal flags, John Paul I 's images and, an eloquent sign, Chilean emblems,  applauded when they were passing by the observers, who were amazed witnesses of such  enthusiasm.

Cardinal Aramburu's homily (fragments)


" Now we feel poorer "


" We had been living and enjoying the event of the Vatican in the last conclave where we had the new Chief, John Paul I , but suddenly the sad news of his death arrived," said Msgr. Aramburu.

" It is as if we had lost something of our own. Some chiefs of State said: "Now we feel poorer."  "However, this does not make the faith and  hope in the Church disappear. We have days of Holy Friday and Saturdays of Resurrection. This is the Christian and the Church life ".

"John Paul I told the journalists" - recalled the Archbishop of Buenos Aires-: " when you speak about the Church, understand it in the depth of its mystery ". The Church is the great mystery of its constitution: it has a human element - ourselves, and another one - divine. In spite of the problems, its has a sap that revitalizes it in bad moments. It acts on the earth but its mission is transcendent. It has human problems but, when it speaks, it does so for the benefit of God's Kingdom. It is on the earth but it leads its members to a divine transcendence.

In the last conclave, in an extraordinary way, out of any calculation, the Church demonstrated clearly that there was a special life and it gave us John Paul I. Today we were going to incorporate him strongly but we will do it with our prayer."

- The Pope knew about this peregrination

" The late lamented Holy Father" continued the Cardinal  " had his mind on this peregrination. On August 30th, I communicated to him that we would make it for different intentions already known and he asked me: " which is the title of the Virgin? ". I told him: " Our Lady of Luján, Patron of Argentina ". Then he told me: " I give the special blessing to the pilgrims, and to the country ". (...)




Testimonies of young pilgrims


- Pablo, 18-year-old, indicated that " Pope John Paul I 's joins us more; I think his death has motivated many people to take part of the pilgrimage ".


 " I want to pray for Pope John Paul I; I liked him; and so that we can have another one as good as him; and for  peace, for the young." Celia from Villa Luro comments "and for all my family ".



John Paul I and the Press

First Pages of Argentinian Newspapers

Magazines Covers

Articles from the Argentinian press (Part I)

Articles from the Argentinian press (Part II)

Articles from the Argentinian press (Part III) 

Articles from the Italian press


GCM 2001