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An undated photo of Pope John Paul I speaking at the window of his private studio. Photo/courtesy of Sentinelle del mattino International, Wikimedia Commons

For John Paul I, being a bishop was central to papacy, cardinal says

By  Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service
  • August 26, 2016

VATICAN CITY – The life of Pope John Paul I is not a closed chapter in the history of the popes but a reminder of the church's mission to serve with simplicity, said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state.

"Throughout his life, from a young priest to the chair of Peter, he constantly was committed to rediscovering the essence of the Gospel as a unique and uninterrupted truth beyond any historical circumstance," the cardinal said Aug. 25.

Cardinal Parolin was in Pope John Paul's hometown, Canale d'Agordo, for the presentation of a new Italian biography of the late pope. The cardinal, who hails from the same region of Veneto, also was scheduled to celebrate Mass Aug. 27 and attend the inauguration of the "Albino Luciani Museum," dedicated to "The Smiling Pope."

Elected in 1978 following the death of Pope Paul VI, the reign of John Paul I was among the shortest in history, lasting only 33 days when he died of an apparent heart attack. He was declared a "servant of God" in 2003 by his successor, St. John Paul II.

Recalling John Paul I's election, Cardinal Parolin said he was chosen by the College of Cardinals "almost unanimously" not because of political strategy, but to place "the most important quality of a bishop, being a shepherd," at the heart of the papacy.

"The cardinals chose a shepherd of sure faith, who lived with the flock and for the flock; he shared in the pain of his people and in a special way that of the poor and migrants; and he accompanied the troubled paths of the priests of his time and spoke with wisdom," he said.

Although his pontificate was brief, Pope John Paul's life and papacy cannot be reduced to "a good memory" but is "relevant now more than ever," the cardinal stressed.

"It is – for this present time – a strong and undeniable witness of that whic

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