Articles from the Argentinian press

( Part III )

" John Paul I in the public opinion " 

Testimonies gathered in occasion of the Holy Father's death.


- " Pope John Paul I took his mission to heart. He wanted to give so much ". (Sister Marie Charles from Paris).

- " I felt this type of a sorrow that many know : the death of a dear being. We still have the memory of a man that radiated joy and serenity with his charming smile ". (Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster).

- " In the few weeks of his reign, Pope Johan Paul I won the appreciation of his Church and the world ... We feel much sorrow for his death ". (James Carter, President of EE.UU).

- " The Church has suffered a hard blow. It seemed that the election of this man, relatively young, was going to allow to the Church to work calmly during a long time under his guide. But, obviously, the plans of the Lord were different ". (Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, Archbishop of Gniezno-Warsaw).

- " I was very surprised by the news. I did not know if it was a dream or  reality. In recent times, we have turned from the pain to the happiness and, from the happiness, to the pain, but we do not forget that, definitively, John Paul was the Shepherd of God on earth and that the main chief is God ". (Msgr. Pio Laghi, Apostolic Nunzio in Argentina).


- " He was a friend: one of us addressed him as tú and he called him simply ' father '. We accompanied him very often through Venice, on his visits to the parishes, since his arrival as Patriarch of the city. In the late afternoon, in Summer, the Patriarch walked along the wharf : we greeted him, wanted to kiss his hand, but he avoided the ceremonies. He asked us how we were, about the children; he knew all of us. In the Holy Week and Christmas we were going to greet him; he was pleased to see us. He was a simple man, who loved everybody and they all loved him; there is no family in Venice that does not remember him with delight, who has not a picture of him taken on the occasion of a Baptism or a First Holy Communion ". (Gondolieri from Saint Mark' s wharf, in Venice).


- " It was such a sudden thing that has left us very dismayed. It is a very big loss in the history of the Church in this new chapter - which was opened with great  hope. We are very hurt and I think this feeling is shared, not only by people from Argentina, but by the whole world, because he had won the hearts of  us all ". (Cardinal Juan Carlos Aramburu, Archbishop of Buenos Aires).


- " With a sigh, he  had conquered the love of all, as a sigh, he has gone away. His work, though brief, has left a light that also leaves a perfume of kindness ". (Cardinal Giovanni Colombo, Archbishop of Milan).


- " It's impossible; it cannot be true. He had hardly opened his arms towards all of us, and now he has gone away so soon ". (A disconsolate woman in Saint Peter's Basilica).


- " It's impossible; you must be joking! Do you mean this Pope, the new Pope ? I don' t believe you ". (Angélica Weir, a Venezuelan tourist).


- " I hardly saw the Pope on Wednesday and, the following day, he was dead. It must be Gods' hand ". (Michael Moynihan, an American Seminarist).


- " His Pontificate, exceptionally brief but so rich of human and Christian meaning - the promise of a spiritual Spring, showed the world the only way that men must follow for their own redemption. Catholics, faithful to the clarity as a crystal of faith, pray to the Almighty because, through John Paul I' s merits, the militant Church can soon have a shepherd who really can be measured up to him". (Traditionalist movement Civiltà Cristiana).


- " I couldn' t believe it. It was so incredible that, when I listened to the news, I called the Vatican. John Paul I was transmitting a happiness that gave an impression of warmth and Christianity. It is the biggest blow. The sorrow for this death will be so great as great was the happiness for his election ". (Cardinal Jan Willebrands, Archbishop of Utrecht).


- " It was an extraordinary blow, due to the fact that we expected so much from Pope John Paul I. I had  great hope in this Pope. He was the 'smiling' and the 'happiness' Pope. The happiness of the Pope brings back hope to the Christians and to all the men of the world and I think that is what we all need: to conquer the hope again ". (Cardinal Vicente Enrique and Tarancón, Archbishop of Madrid - Alcalá).


- " His was a very promissory Pontificate. We all were full of hope before this gift for the Church. The Pope was full of  greatness that  could have bloomed still more. I think that very rarely someone conquers  hearts with such speed ". (Cardinal Leo Suenens, Archbishop of Brussels - Malines).


- " It seems that God only showed the figure of a great Pope to the world and He took him to live in His peace ". (Cardinal Raúl Primatesta, Archbishop of Córdoba).


- " We want the next one be like him ". (Unanimous opinion picked up in Saint Peter 's Square).


- " Don Luciani was like us. He thought of the poor, because he was born poor ". (A neighbour from ' Borgo Pio ').


- " There is too much sadness. Two Popes died in less than two months and the situation of the country, which gives so many motives to be worried about. Don Albino brought so much happiness and so much faith. Now, the truth is that my hopes have fallen down, sir ". (An elderly lady).


- " Maybe never in the history of the Church a Pope could be equal to John Paul I in the facility, softness and rapidity with which he penetrated into  the hearts of men and women of the whole world, as a shepherd who loves ". (Father Pedro Arrupe, General Superior of the Jesuits).


- " It was as if the Pope was one of us". (A moved bank employee).


- " It is like as if every family had lost the most dear being ". (Father Rinaldo Andrich, parish Priest of Canale D'Agordo).


- " I was impressed very much by the Pope 's death  , because it has demonstrated that the Lords' Will is really mysterious: it is true that God's thought is not that of men ". (King Baldouin of Belgium).


- " John Paul I was tremendously anxious about the violence in the world,  and especially about  the penuries that causes  civil war in Lebanon ". (Walter Mondale, Vice-President of USA).


- " The world will remember the illuminated smile and shepherd's simplicity of Pope John Paul I ". (Valery Giscard d'Estaing, President of France).


- " The humility and the kindness demonstrated by His Holiness will continue being a lasting and inspiring memory ". (Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain).


- " John Paul  I 's death will make the world tremble ". (Reverend Donald Coggan, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury).


- " We always mourn  the death of a spirit of peace; of a liberal spirit. He was a Pope with a smile, a hope and a good will, who followed with warm attention the negotiations on Middle East ". (Shimon Peres, leader of the Israeli Labour Party).


- " It is a painful resolution of God " (Cardinal Josef Hoeffner, Archbishop of Cologne).


- " Our return to Rome, in so short a time, is really unexpected, but, as Job says, God has given and God has taken back. I think the Lord gave us the most beautiful gift in the person of John Paul. He conquered  mens' hearts and was precious to the Church ". (Cardinal Humbert Medeiros, Archbishop of Boston).


- " We are here with sorrow but also with the memory that Pope John Paul I illuminated the whole world with his smile and his kindness. That is to say, in this world, humility and simplicity are needed. He gave  humanity that warmth and happiness which it needed so much ". (Cardinal Timothy Manning, Archbishop of Los Angeles).


- " It is incredible how Pope Luciani had  instantaneously gained the hearts of the people ". (A European Cardinal).


- " We are poor and we only have come to see how our Shepherd receives Christian burial. He will be recognized as a Saint. His days as Chief of the Church, though brief, could not have been more wonderful ". (Inhabitants of Belluno).


- " To His Holiness, John Paul I. You have passed among us as a wonderful dream, giving us your smile, kindness and paternal blessing. Our eternal gratitude accompanies you in Heaven. October 4th, 1978 ". (from a funeral notice appeared on "Il Messaggero" of Rome).


- " I am very sad. It is raining, I know, but I don 't mind ". (María Venerani, who has traveled the whole night from Canale D'Agordo for the Pope 's funeral in Rome).


- " He had given me  Confirmation. His faith is still recorded in my mind. We loved him, not only for his humility, but also because he was like us ". (Gabriele Del Magro, from Feltre).


- " He has opened new ways, started a period of strong renovation inside the Church. It is not possible to say that the briefness of John Paul I 's Pontificate has prevented him from making his programme. His very brief pastoral ministry has been a wonderful synthesis of his immediate predecessors: John XXIII and Paul VI ". (Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Religious and Secular Institutes).


- " He was a different Pope ". " He was the dawn that didn 't become a day ". " A breath of evangelical freshness in Saint Peters ". " Behind the smile, there was a profound knowledge of the Church ". (Pilgrims in Saint Peter 's Square).


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

The smiling Pope


The smile of the Pope or the smiling Pope ? Or both together.? The smile - says Martín Fierro (n. f. a. a gaucho figure from the gaucho Argentinian literature) - belongs to a Christian. And Chesterton said the same : " Happiness was a sad mask in pagan and a very big secret in Christian ".

A Spanish journalist, on having known about the election of Cardinal Luciani, expressed: " God does not allow us to steal his smile ".

The smile was like his charisma; his distinctive note, his touch of charm. It was warm, natural, spontaneous, sincere, and contagious. His smile was a flowering of his interior. It was the light lit at the window of his face, indicating to us that his father 's heart was inside.

It was not a stereotyped smile, neither for advertising, nor for the sophisticated social meetings. It was a smile without previous notice; fresh air as in Spring, lively as a gazelle, joyful as a sleigh-bell, contagious as a dialogue. It was not the smile that we are use to seeing in television shows.

John Paul I 's smile was an essential part of his life. We do not have any doubt that the smile was, in him,  an apostolate.

A happy witness of his interior peace,  John Paul 's smile was the cultivation of his soul. His smile was not mechanical, detachable,  not a smile for export; it was a smile born from his kindness and his interior peace. A full smile.

The smile is not only one of the best tranquilizers against all the vicissitudes which are waiting for us on the route, but it is a singular element to preserve  self - control.

Dostoievsky said that, for him, the laugh of a man was more eloquent than all the studies that could be made about his personality. So, in that sense, we can affirm that the smile was, in John Paul I, a definition.

It was a reflex of the whole life taken root on faith, hope and love. It was the fruit of his optimism of baptism.

The smile is a curve that, paradoxically, can straighten up many things, and that one was the hope of the humanity of today.

His warm smile was the whole promise for a convulsed world that today stays suspended facing his tragic death. His smile was an exponent of his love of life and exultant happiness which could conquer Christianity and humanity, scarcely put out to ' Saint Peter 's loggia ', for his first blessing " Urbi et Orbi ".

The Pope 's smile has gone out forever. We will not see it any more in the papal audiences, but it will remain recorded for all the lives of  those who saw it personally or on TV.

His fleeting step on Peter 's See was more than enough to get into the soul of Christian people, because his open smile had its secret roots in his great humility and in his charming simplicity.

He had  defined  himself : " I am only a poor man, accustomed to simple things and  silence ". Like this, secretly and suddenly, he introduced himself at the House of the Father, with the light lit in his bedroom and the smile lit n his face. Unexpectedly, the phrase of the psalmist had been fulfilled in him: " Agreeable it is to God's eyes the death of the just ".

Like a sticker in the soul, his smile still remains on us !


Heriberto Roanello


"Clarín", October 8th, 1978 

Interview with Cardinal Raúl Primatesta, Archbishop of Córdoba and President of the Argentinian Episcopal Conference (fragments)


VATICAN CITY, 8 (from our correspondent, Julio Algañaraz). 

(...) To make a balance of these two so important and dramatic months that the Church is living was the central intention of the dialogue. It was also the first question.

" It is difficult to make so wide a balance - he answered-, from Paul VI 's death up to John Paul I.'s death. Why? Because there has been too much publicity and too much cheap publicity. It would be necessary to separate the different moments. The moment of Paul VI 's death took us by surprise - even when one speaks about the Pope 's death like something which was  expected, almost naturally since he was elderly and sick. Even so, it awakened a certain 'curiosity', for his death came suddenly. This is a lesson that it is necessary to take into account. This death changed the plans of a lot of people and immediately brought insecurity, ponderings, judgments, ideas about who was going to be the successor.

- Was the mistake again made of treating the topic in excessively temporary terms?

- Yes, many people were speaking as if there was a political division in parties. Well, each one speaks about the fair according to the success in it. This caused, in general, an anxiety: who is going to be the Pope? It will be a difficult conclave, they said, because it will be hard for the Cardinals to be understood between them.

But the human programme failed again. As Christians, we must put the question in terms of faith: the Holy Spirit arranged it that, in little more than six hours, the Cardinals were choosing a Pope. A Pope who fell down suddenly, one who was practically unknown. A journalist had the honesty to state: " He was always passing always near me and I didn't even take a picture ".

Well then, Pope Luciani appears and makes the first confusion with his simplicity, with his nearness. A shepherd, this man that, with just one word, in his first public audience (Sunday, August 27th, in Saint Peter 's Square), saying: " yesterday ... ", changed everything, cast off; started a freedom of expression that was continued in so many details. It is necessary to remember his audience with the Cardinals, when he put aside the official speech; the serenity and clarity with which he spoke to the diplomats, to let them see the sense that high politics or diplomacy can have before the Vatican, before the Pope, who is a shepherd.

Also the meeting that he had with the journalists - difficult people - in which he told truths but he also exalted  the task they have to fulfill. It was never taken into account that this  was John Paul I 's third audience as Supreme Pontiff.

Later, in the brief period of his Pontificate, he continued this communication that he had with Roman people and with people who came here. A communication that, rapidly, was spread all over the world.

- Did people fall in love with the Pope, as it is recognized by the observers?

- Right. In love with a simple Pope, who used to speak to God's people. Yet they also fell  in love with a sure Pope in the doctrine, a man who was marking a very good, precise line. From the first speech, this was very clear: when he spoke about the Church, about the Church which is love, which must have understanding and be opened everywhere; about the Church which is charity, but that must be accompanied by truth and discipline. In that way, he was marking other guidelines of service and action.

Look, for example, at a detail that addressees have estimated very much. He spoke, in passing, not about Priests in general but about parish Priests. A parish Priest is like the most nearby link that joins people with the  Hierarchy. He is not the Hierarchy but he is what is more nearby.  John Paul I spoke about parish Priests, because he always had this idea of  shepherd, of a shepherd who gives a doctrine - and he gave that doctrine categorically.

- He was a well known pedagogue of Catechism ...

- A pedagogue who could take advantage of  situations., as in the general audience, when he invited a boy to converse, and the boy told him he didn't want to change to secondary school. John Paul I made a memorable interpretation of progress, referring  it, as a last resort, to spiritual progress in God 's love. Like this, with that sincerity, he was coming to the people. That is why his sudden death dismayed everyone so much.

Here there was another human failure. It was said before the conclave :  Cardinals will have to elect a not -so- young Pope, because a long Pontificate takes the risk of falling down into a routine. Other totally human considerations were also made. Against what it was necessary to expect, from this angle,  was elected a younger Pope, 65-years-old, and that young Pope died after 33 days. God has His ways.

- What is the meaning you give it?

- Cardinal Siri said on Thursday, during the nine days  Mass we concelebrated in Saint Peter in John Paul I 's memory, something very interesting, simple and deep : "Pope Luciani came to open a stage, he opened it and left with God."  What can I add  ? Before it was said: it will be so difficult to elect a Paul VI 's successor, a Pope of this size, who will be able to carry the load? Yet, on the other hand, John Paul I came, who was practically not expected by anybody, and now, after what he made in a short time, we wonder : who can take John Paul's I legacy ? The Church waits. (...)  

- The brief period of John Paul I; was it a great Pontificate that could not be?

- Why could it not  be ? I would say : it is. It is not necessary to measure it in time but in values. John Paul I discovered and brought a message, a life style. He said: we are too 'complicated'; it is necessary to pose the big values clearly and simply. He was a simple Pope of great ideas. That is why, it is not necessary to measure the time of his presence but the influence and the turn of rudder he gave in his so-brief Pontificate. (...)  

- These crowds around John Paul I, so in public audiences as in his funeral; will they be 'present' in the Conclave, at least, in the minds of all of you ?

- Who can leave them imprudently aside ? People are anxious to listen and they reply. What a lesson! The Church finds Gods' people in a moment of a high awareness.  

- A people capable of understanding and capable of deciding for themselves. It is necessary to take into account this need of the people.

- The example was given by John Paul I. Any sensible person takes into account this indication. Pope Luciani, who had put aside the gestatorian chair during the audiences - then accepted it humbly so that people could see him. It is not possible to ignore the people, who sometimes say the things without words, but they say them.

Remember the funeral in the rain last Wednesday. There was much speculation  about the need to hold the ceremonies inside the Basilica due to the storm that there was in Rome for several days. However, the Mass was celebrated in the open air, because God's people wanted to say goodbye to His Shepherd. Nobody was capable of taking the responsibility of changing this reality.



"Radiolandia 2000", October 1978



An unforgettable memory

 It seems a dream...

 Unfortunately, it is a true memory, indelible, for fifteen Argentinian journalists (among eight hundred from all the world) who participated in the audience - the only one dedicated to the press (as history will record) – that John Paul has granted in his short reign (hardly 33 days).

 I had been one of them. I have seen him coming in with agile step, with a healthy pink colour on his face, with that simple smile, sincere, with which he will be identified for ever and ever and I have added my applause to that formidable ovation which greeted his presence. John Paul had gained the love of the world-wide press.

 He sat down on his throne and, with that intellectual wisdom that the smile seemed to disguise, gave a master lesson on the tasks of journalism that none of his listeners will never forget. Also the Italian colleagues, in that moment, addressees of a critical flood of irony but also very direct: " I was greatly amused when reading the chronicles of the pre-conclave ". Yes, Albino Luciani had the virtue of the great shepherds. His language was simple, but profound at the same time, and it is why he has been loved - as parish Priest,  as Vicar, Bishop, Cardinal and also in his brief passage through Saint Peter ' s throne.

The ovation, when he left, was even more intense. His figure, tiny, likeable, and his eyes filled with

tenderness, his wise words,  remain in the comment of eight hundred journalists from all the world.

 Now it seems a dream to us ...  

Natalio Gorin




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