John Paul I expected to return to Venice before he was elected pope, letter shows

Cardinal Albino Luciani, Patriarch of Venice, visits with a fellow cardinal Cardinal Albino Luciani, Patriarch of Venice, visits with a fellow cardinal | John Paul I Vatican Foundation

A letter written on the eve of the conclave that elected him Bishop of Rome shows that Albino Luciani expected to return to Venice as its patriarch.

“Fortunately, I am absolutely out of danger,” Luciani wrote from Rome Aug. 24, 1978, to Bishop Giuseppe Carraro, who had recently retired as Bishop of Verona.

“As soon as possible I will come to see you,” Luciani, who was elected pope Aug. 26, added.

Luciani took the name John Paul I. He will be beatified Sept. 4.

In his letter to Carraro, who had been his suffragan and is a Venerable, Luciani wrote of the “journalistic inferences and deductions” regarding the conclave’s outcome, but adding that he will maintain the required secrecy surrounding it.

He mentioned his “serious commitment more than ever to pray and work for the Church” and to pray “for him whom the cardinals will elect to succeed the late Paul VI,” noting that he would “have an even more difficult task” than did Montini.

The letter was given by Venerable Carraro to Father Guido Todeschini, founder of Telepace, a Catholic broadcasting network based in the Province of Verona. Todeschini presented the document on a program of the network Sept. 2.

Todeschini plans to give it in turn to the John Paul I Vatican Foundation.

John Paul I reigned for 33 days, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 28, 1978.

He was born in Italy’s Belluno province in 1912, and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Belluno e Feltre in 1935, at age 22.

In 1958 he was consecrated a bishop, and appointed Bishop of Vittorio Veneto. He was appointed Patriarch of Venice in 1969, and made a cardinal in 1973.

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