Forty years ago, the Catholic Church saw the throne of Saint Peter pass three potatoes in three months, a fact that led to the pontificate of John Paul II after the death of Paul VI and John Paul I.
“The Pope with a smile”
On August 6, 1978, Paul VI, head of the Vatican for 15 years, died at the age of 80 following a heart attack. Twenty days later, on August 26, the cardinal Albino Luciani, Patriarch of Venice, was elected Holy Father under the name of Juan Pablo I.
Son of working family The 65-year-old from northern Italy quickly manages to rule with a more direct style than his predecessors, avoiding protocol as much as possible. Very sensitive to poverty ”,the pope of the smile”Also affirms the importance of giving an“ equal pay ”to everyone.
But in the early morning of September 29, 33 days after his election, John Paul I died suddenly -apparently following a heart attack-, becoming one of the more ephemeral potatoes of the Catholic Church.
Two days after his death, the Vatican announced that the body of the Pope would not undergo autopsy, since the procedure was not “provided for in the apostolic constitution of Paul VI”. Doubts then arise, even in the Vatican, on the diagnosis of papal doctors.
“The Pope was found on Friday morning, with the serene face, although according to a good Vatican source the announced myocardial infarction should have affected his limbs or his features, ”the agency said at the time. AFP.
Providence, his negligence – voluntary or not – vis-à-vis his health, a conspiracy … many theories cast doubt on the official account.
In 1984, British writer David Yallop claimed that John Paul I was poisoned because he was determined to oppose the power of the P2 Masonic Lodge in the Vatican, a “totally absurd” thesis, according to the Holy See. His work, “In the name of God,” has been translated into nine languages and published in 30 countries.
Some also evoke that the Pope wanted to put order in the financial embezzlement of Monsignor Paul Marcinkus, head of the Vatican bank and suspected of having links with the Mafia.
In 2017, a book published by the Italian journalist Stefania Falasca who participates in the beatification (still in progress) of Albino Luciani, rejects this criminal hypothesis. It is based on the testimony of one of the nuns who discovered the body of the Pope, sitting on his bed with her glasses and some sheets in her hands. The Church would have decided to silence the fact that the dead Pope was discovered by women.
“Pope chosen not Italian”
The Church, shaken by the death of two popes in two months, must once again mobilize to find the successor of John Paul I.
“It was already difficult to find a successor to Paul VI. How will the cardinals choose a pope as good, as cordial as Pope Luciani? The faithful wondered.
On October 16, after eight hours of debate, there was white smoke in the Sistine Chapel, announces that the 111 cardinals have reached an agreement. The huge crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square exploded with joy.
“Pope elected not Italian», Indicates an AFP flash before providing the identity of the Sovereign Pontiff. Against all expectations, the conclave designates the Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, a 58-year-old Polish Archbishop of Krakow.
This appointment is a small revolution for the Catholic Church, which over 400 years I had only had Italian potatoes.
Karol Wojtyla adopted the name John Paul II, in honor of his predecessor. His pontificate was solemnly inaugurated on October 22, 1978, in the midst of the Cold War.
Charismatic, uncompromising on tradition, conservative and modern at the same time, John Paul II contributed to the fall of communism while fighting against endemic capitalism.
Although not all of his commitments were kept, he is still recognized by many faithful as “the athlete of God” and was canonized in 2014.
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