Pope Reflects on John Paul I's Spiritual Legacy

On the 25th Anniversary of His Death

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 27, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II reminisced about his immediate predecessor, 25 years after his death, and reflected on the previous Pope's warning that progress, without genuine fraternity, can become a "constant danger."



John Paul I, baptized Albino Luciani, died suddenly on Aug. 26, 1978, just 33 days after being elected Successor of the Apostle Peter.

"Humility and optimism were the characteristics of his existence," John Paul II said today as he recalled his predecessor. "Precisely thanks to these gifts, in his fleeting passage among us, he left the Church a message of hope that found acceptance in so many hearts."

Addressing thousands of pilgrims at the general audience in Paul VI Hall here, John Paul II recalled some of Pope Luciani's favorite sayings: "'To be optimistic in spite of everything,' he liked to repeat, 'trust in God should be the pivot of our thoughts and actions.'"

He recalled another expression of John Paul I: that the "principal persons in our life are two: God and each one of us."

The Pope with the "smiling face" and "trusting and open look … conquered the hearts of Romans and faithful the world over," John Paul II said.

"What was the secret of his fascination if not an uninterrupted contact with the Lord?" the reigning Pontiff asked during the audience. He quoted from a letter John Paul I had addressed to Jesus: "You know it. I try to have a continuous conversation with you."

John Paul II also quoted from a letter Albino Luciani wrote before he became Pope and which continues to be of "surprising current importance."

"Progress with men who love one another, considering themselves brothers and sons of the one God and Father, can be a wonderful thing," wrote the then Cardinal Luciani. "Progress with men who do not recognize in God the only Father, becomes a constant danger."

"How much truth there is in these words of his, also useful for the men of our time!" John Paul II said. "May humanity be able to accept such wise advice and extinguish the numerous focuses of hatred and violence present in so many parts of the Earth, in order to build, in concord, a more just and solidaristic world!"