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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Milan-based newspaper is confirming the last Italian pope will likely be declared a "blessed" sometime next year.
The Italian bishops' newspaper, Avvenire, reported last week that Albino Luciani, known to the world as Pope John Paul I, could be beatified in 2022. The step towards sainthood hinges upon the final review of a miraculous healing attributed to the deceased pontiff.
"The last vote, that of the session of cardinals and bishops, which will close the judicial process of the 'super miro' trial is scheduled for next October," according to Avvenire. "Once the miracle has been recognized and sanctioned by papal decree, all that remains is to fix the date of the beatification."
The Roman Pontiff's cause for canonization officially opened in 2003 and was submitted to the Vatican in 2016. One year later, he was declared "venerable" by Pope Francis.
A major factor in the advancement of the canonization cause was the healing of a young woman in Buenos Aires who suffered from a brain disease. She was allegedly healed in 2011. In 2019, a board of medical experts declared the healing miraculous, testifying there was no medical explanation for the recovery. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints will make a final vote on the miracle's validity this October, after which the cause will be presented to Francis for beatification.
Luciani was born in Italy in 1912 and was ordained a priest in 1935. Pope Pius XII granted him a special dispensation to reside at the seminary in Belluno, Italy as a teacher while studying for a Doctorate of Sacred Theology, a task which ordinarily required residence in Rome. Pope John XXIII, in 1958, made Luciani bishop of Vittorio Veneto. Pope Paul VI, in 1969, made him archbishop of Venice.
Luciani was noted as something of a progressive, participating in the Second Vatican Council. He advocated for an early form of financial social justice at the 1971 Synod of Bishops. Two years later, he was elevated to cardinal, again by Paul VI.
When elected pope in 1978, Luciani famously said, "May God forgive you for what you have done." He took the name "John Paul" in honor of his two immediate predecessors and mentors, John XXIII and Paul VI. His pontificate, however, lasted a mere 33 days.
John Paul I was found dead on Sept. 29, 1978. The Vatican announced he died of a heart attack but shared little else. It has been suggested that the last Italian pope's death was linked to his launching of an investigation into the Vatican Bank's shadier dealings. The U.S. Department of Justice had investigated American archbishop Paul Marcinkus, the manager of the Vatican Bank, in relation to international fraud. Italian banker and Paul VI associate Michele Sindona was also involved with the Vatican Bank, allegedly laundering money there before sending it on to Swiss bank accounts.
Theories surrounding John Paul I's death center on the Italian Propaganda Due masonic lodge and the Mafia. As recently as 2019, a Colombo crime family member claimed to have participated in poisoning the pope.
John Paul I is the only one of the deceased Vatican II–era popes yet to be raised to sainthood (the others popes of said era are John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II). Questions have been posed regarding the recent habit of popes canonizing their immediate predecessors. The doctrinally conservative Pope Pius XII, for example, is stalled at the "venerable" stage, which John Paul I may soon leave behind.
Once officially approved, John Paul I's beatification is expected to occur next year, as winter beatifications are rare.