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from issue no. 09 - 2007

«A work that I have reread with care»

The young Don Albino Luciani graduated from the Gregorian with a thesis very critical of a theological work by Antonio Rosmini. But there is evidence, reported in the Positio super virtutibus of the Abbot from Rovereto, that indicates a change of mind on the part of John Paul I. Here it is

A testimony of John Paul I taken from the Positio super virtutibus by the Abbot of Rovereto

John Paul I

John Paul I

All the testimonies at the process confirm a fact about His Holiness John Paul I, the Pope of the very brief pontificate, that we prefer to give from the remembrances of the person directly involved, Monsignor Clemente Riva: «I cannot help remembering with emotion my meeting with Pope John Paul I as his auxiliary bishop for a sector of his diocese of Rome. One day, 7 September, of his brief pontificate, he wanted to meet the Cardinal Vicar, Ugo Poletti, with his auxiliary bishops. We were in line in order of seniority. I was last in the line. Cardinal Poletti presented the bishops singularly. Come to the last, the cardinal was saying: “This is...”. The Pope interrupted him saying: “This one, I know well”. And we explained to Poletti all the past history. The Pope spoke of his devotion to Rosmini. I then spoke up: “Holy Father, I don’t know whether I can be your auxiliary bishop given that on some things to do with Rosmini I don’t agree with you”. I was obviously joking. Pope Luciani gave a big smile. He embraced me and made me understand that I could work with him. But the greatest revelation came when, confiding to some friends, he said some important things».
These «important things» can be read in the book by Camillo Bassotto Il mio cuore è ancora a Venezia [My heart is still in Venice], where Pope Luciani, among the many confidences, makes one of great interest for us.
On page 121 of the said volume it says: «It was a late evening in September when Pope Luciani phoned Don Germano Pattaro, inviting him to come to Rome. They found each other a few days later, together in peace and calm. At the sight of Pope Luciani, his former Patriarch, Don Germano was about to kneel, but the Pope raised him up, embraced and kissed him. A long, affectionate and confidential conversation followed. A little big mutual open-hearted confession. So Don Germano told me at the meetings I had with him».
As for Rosmini, here the words of Pope Luciani: «Don Lorenzo [Milani] and Don Primo [Mazzolari] deserve to recover the place they’re entitled to in the Church and in the heart of all those who loved them. Just as Abbot Antonio Rosmini deserves it: a priest who loved the Church, who suffered for the Church. A man of vast culture, of wholesome Christian faith, a master of philosophical and moral learning who saw with clarity in the ecclesial structures the delays and the evangelical and pastoral shortcomings of the Church. I want to find an occasion to speak about Antonio Rosmini and of his work, which I have reread with care».
One shouldn’t skip over the closing expression: «Which I have reread with care», where his progressive knowledge of Rosmini is confirmed.
The confession of Pope Luciani continues: «First I shall meet with the Rosminian fathers and so we’ll make peace. When my degree thesis on the Origine dell’ anima umana secondo Antonio Rosmini [Origin of the human soul according to Antonio Rosmini] was published some of them declared themselves in disagreement with my thinking and analysis. I want the doctrinal decree number 10, Post obitum, with which the Sacred Roman Universal Inquisition condemned the “forty propositions” taken from the writings of Abbot Antonio Rosmini, to be looked at again. We shall do it with calm, but we shall do it».
Monsignor Clemente Riva remarks: «Providence would have it that the person most in disagreement with him was, in the days when he was saying these things, his auxiliary bishop for his diocese, Rome [...]. Reading these lines and comparing them with those in which he supported the practical impossibility of reforming the Post obitum decree, what a distance covered! [...] These pages of mine aim to be a testimony to the rectitude and sincerity of Albino Luciani: a serious scholar, who had the courage to recognize the truth and the good also by updating and modifying his previous positions. Looking carefully, there is a progressive deepening and a cultural and theological development in the mind of Pope Luciani, that does him honor. Out of that cultural progress of Albino Luciani emerges the value and the import as Christian thinker of Rosmini himself. But Pope Luciani in this cultural, theological and pastoral progess, arrived at a “project for a pontificate” that planned reform of the Roman Curia and of the Church in the spirit and in the letter of Vatican Council II. I refer here once again to the study by Professor Romeo Cavedo, already mentioned: Albino Luciani: progetto di un pontificato [Albino Luciani: project for a pontificate]. These pages of mine thus represent a slice of “Church history”».

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