The following was written by Edward W. Scott, then Moderator of the Central Committee and Philip A. Potter, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches in September, 1978 following the death of Papa Luciani. It was sent as an expression of condolences to Catholics.
“Pope John Paul will long be remembered for this open-hearted simplicity, his spontaneous warmth, his quickness of mind and action, his pastoral concern for all, especially the poor and needy and above all his utter commitment to Christ and his Church. The promise of his pontificate was that he would deploy these gifts of the Spirit to continue to work for the renewal of the Church, for the proclamation in word and deed of the good news of salvation, for promoting dialogue with people of all faiths and cultures, for pursuing peace and justice in the world and for working without hesitation for the unity of all God’s people, according to our Lord’s prayer as a sign and sacrament of the unity of all peoples…… We give thanks to God for a great pastor who in his steadfast and immovable faith was always abounding in the work of the Lord. We pray that in the communion of the saints this faith and work in the Lord will guide and govern the life and witness of the Roman Catholic Church and of all Churches for the sake of the world for which Christ died and rose again.”
(You can read the entire letter on the Vatican’s website, www.vatican.va. Click on Acta Apostolicae Sedis, then again on the link with the same title, then on “1978”. Scroll down to page 842.)
I suspect that these kind words used to describe John Paul I accurately would have predicted the course of a lengthier pontificate, if God would have so desired.