A simple and moving telephone call

2013-04-02 L’Osservatore Romano

A simple, moving gesture: last Monday, at 6:30 p.m., the telephone rang at Ca’ Maitino di Sotto il Monte, John XXIII's summer residence, where today Archbishop Loris Francesco Capovilla lives and where the Suore Poverelle cherish memories of Pope John. As usual Capovilla answered himself. It was Pope Francis who was calling him because, among the many messages of good wishes, he had received directly an Easter message written in the light of the Second Vatican Council, edited by Pope Roncalli's former Secretary, subtitled: “With Pope Francis we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Pacem in Terris on 11 April 2013 and on 3 June 2013 of the passing of John XXIII:  a detailed agenda.  With the Bishop of Rome who greets the Secretary who was the companion at arms of the Pope of the Council and says to him “I see him with the eyes of my heart”, Capovilla told us. “It was a very great surprise and I like to consider this telephone call made to this place where John XXIII was born rather than to me myself: as a tribute to him and to his roots”. Capovilla, who will be ninety in October, mentioned that the Pope had stressed certain parts of the message he had sent him: a few pages together with a few pictures (of Manzù's medal for the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Francis on the Loggia the evening of his election; Francis and Benedict XVI from behind, kneeling in prayer together at Castel Gandolfo; a portrait of John XXIII by Hans-Jürgen Kallmann), and some very short texts  “as precious as a homily”, as Francis described them.  In their brief conversation the Pope asked Capovilla “to pray John XXIII to help the Pope and everyone to be better people”,  Archbishop Capovilla continued: “I also reminded him of my age and he remarked that the spirit counts more. I told him that I have both Christian and non-Christian friends and that to this day the Lord has accompanied me”. And he added that he had “humbly asked His Holiness for a blessing for the inhabitants of Sotto il Monte, for his parish community, for the relatives of the Pope of the  Council”, and for “all those who work with me together with the Bishop of Bergamo”.

Marco Roncalli