Thirty-three years ago today, Pope John Paul I gave his last address for he died late that night. On September 28, 1978 he met a group of bishops from the Philippines on their ad limina visit. In this address he spoke of evangelization, a huge project that his successor would pick up and make one of his center pieces of his papacy.
As I have previously posted, it seems that the New Evangelization started the day Luciani died.
Here are are a few excerpts from the address:
Among the rights of the faithful, one of the greatest is the right to receive God’s word in all its entirety and purity, with all its exigencies and power. A great challenge of our day is the full evangelization of all those who have been baptized… Our message must be a clear proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ…..
For us, evangelization involves an explicit teaching about the name of Jesus, his identity, his teaching, his Kingdom and his promises….the Church [in} her pastoral charity would be incomplete if she did not point out even “higher needs.”… we must help our people to realize just how much they need Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Mary. He is their Savior, the key to their destiny and to the destiny of all humanity…. to proclaim his truth, his love, his justice and salvation in word and example before its neighbors.. to proclaim with the entire Church that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of the world.
We ask the sick and the handicapped to understand their important part in God’s plan, and to realize just how much evangelization depends on them.
Read the entire address at:
Within hours of uttering these words, Pope John Paul I would die unexpectedly of a massive heart attack after only 33 days on the throne of St. Peter. It seems to me that Luciani’s final sentence above was a prophecy of sorts regarding Wojtyla’s death and the witness it would provide to the world.
Those of us who were privileged to have been able to approach him or to have served him directly in some manner cannot forget the impact his smile, his presence and his words had upon us. He has been overshadowed by his successor, Blessed Pope John Paul II, but Luciani in a now rather silent way laid the cornerstones to John Paul II’s legacy.
I find it unfortunate that what has been written about most broadly about Luciani since his death have been conspiracy theories and the like about the events of this night 33 years ago today. What I am striving to do, along with notable others, is keep alive Luciani’s memory, and his teaching.
He was always the servant of God. He died in the arms of the One he loved. May his memory endure, and may his cause for canonization proceed without haste.
Papa Luciani, pray for us!