Pope John Paul I took possession of the Chair of the Bishop of Rome on September 23, 1978. In his homily he spoke of the poor, his mother, his parish priest and the Christian community.
Here is an excerpt of the Vatican’s English translation of the Italian original.
“Some words of (the Syndic of Rome) caused me to think of one of the prayers that I recited as a child with Mamma. It went like this: ‘the sins that cry for vengeance in the presence of God are…. to oppress the poor, the defraud the workers of a just wage.’ In his turn, the Parish Priest questioned me at school on the Catechism: ‘Why are the sins that cry for vengeance in the presence of God among the more grievous and harmful?’ Reply: …’Because they are directly contrary to the good of mankind and are most hateful in as much as, more than others, they provoke the chastisements of God’ (Catechism of Pius X, 154). Rome will be a true Christian community if God is honoured by you not merely with a multitude of the faithful in the churchs, not merely with private life that is lived morally, but also with love for the poor. These, the Roman deacon Lawrence said, are the true treasures of the Church. They must be helped….without becoming humiliated and offended by ostentatious riches, by money squandered on futile things and not invested — in so far as possible — in enterprises of advantage to all…..it is diaconia, the service of guiding and governing.”
See: www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_i/homilies/documents/hf_jp-i_hom_23091978_en.html for the entire homily.
It seems the Holy Father was acutely aware of the presence of the poor in the streets of Rome and also, as any tourist can attest, to the opulence of the Church’s structures and treasures. One can only wonder what he thought of eventually doing about all of that. His innate concern for the poor, his fear that they would be “humiliated and offended” by squandered ostentatious ecclesial riches is here evident. His diaconal roots are clearly articulated.