Albino Luciani, reader, writer and journalist

After the beatification of John Paul I, another of the great popes of the 20th century, despite his thirty-three-day pontificate, it is necessary to try to remove this pontiff from the permanent chiaroscuro of conspiracy theories and emphasize his human and supernatural virtues. Albino Luciani, priest and bishop, was also a an agile writer, no doubt because from his childhood he had been a tireless reader. He would even have liked to be a journalist if he had not been a priest, as he once acknowledged.

Luciani had the qualities of a good journalist, possessing the ability to go to the heart of issues and expose them with sympathy and clarity, in a way that was accessible to all.. The media attracted him because he was aware that only a few dozen people could listen to him in churches, but that number would turn into thousands if communication was established through newspapers, radio or television. To be a good journalist you have to be a good writer, and a good writer is not someone who writes anything without having documented too much. The good writer and journalist seeks, above all, to transmit the truth, not to make fiction of life and come to believe that fiction can be the real life. Luciani loved the truth because, among other things, he had a vast religious and secular culture. That culture did not distance him from religion, but was an instrument to tune religion with life, which is the eternal challenge of Christians who seek to be faithful to the teachings of his Master.

Some suppose that culture is a mere expression of thought, a field for all kinds of digressions, something disconnected from everyday life or a kind of recreation for people too closed in on themselves. However, there are authors and books that deny these topics and do not avoid the problems of everyday life, which remain the same, yesterday and today, because human nature has not changed, not even to adapt to the myths of man. new. This is the case of Distinguished Gentlemen, a book written in 1976 by Albino Luciani, Patriarch of Venice, a collection of letters addressed, among others, to great writers of the past such as Goethe, Goldoni, Dickens or Chesterton and even to literary characters such as Penelope , Figaro or Pinocchio. The main conclusion that can be drawn from his reading is that if God does not guide our boat, the ship sinks. It is no coincidence that the title of one of those letters, the one addressed to Saint Francis de Sales, is “Sailing in the ship of God”.

Albino Luciani read all kinds of authors in his seminary years, not only the greats of universal literature but also the philosophers of modernity. According to one of his biographers, Marco Roncalli, the young seminarian was a real sponge, despite the risk that his passion for reading could lead to a weakening of his faith.. However, Luciani found support for his vocation in a Bosnian Capuchin, Leopold Mandic, canonized by Paul VI. The religious was known for the mercy practiced in the confessional, which some described as “too generous”, although he responded to this with the affirmation that God is infinitely more generous.

As Marco Roncalli assures, the life and writings of Albino Luciani are yet to be discovered. His shy and reserved personality should not be an obstacle because his writings and the anecdotes of the so-called “smiling pope” testify that he was a simple man imbued with a spirit of joy, faithfully in line with what Jesus says in the gospel. Jesus does not only say “Do not be afraid” but he also expressly invites joy. “Rejoice” he says to the women on the morning of the Resurrection (Mt 28, 9). Pope Luciani’s smile was the fruit of his faith, of his confidence in a merciful God close to men.

Albino Luciani, reader, writer and journalist