CBC Digital Archives

Pope John Paul I chosen in 1978

From all over the world, Catholic cardinals travel to the Vatican to choose the man who will lead the Church. CBC Digital Archives presents coverage of four such elections, from the election of John XXIII in 1958 through Paul VI in 1963 to two conclaves in 1978: John Paul 1 and John Paul II.

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Two days and four ballots into the 1978 papal conclave to choose a new pope after the death of Paul VI comes an announcement from the Vatican: "Habemus Papam (we have a pope)." He is 65-year-old Cardinal Albino Luciani, a former Patriarch of Venice who became a cardinal in 1973. In this excerpt from a CBC Television news special broadcast from Rome, reporter Joe Schlesinger says the choice of the new pope comes as a surprise.
• Luciani chose the name John Paul I as a tribute to two of his predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI.

• According to the Globe and Mail, he had already endeared himself to the public within a month of his election. Audiences were receptive to his informal manner and his habit of using the word "I" when referring to himself rather than the "we" used by previous popes. He was known as both "the smiling pope" and "the chatty pope."

• Just 33 days after being chosen as pope, John Paul I died on Sept. 28, 1978. According to news reports from the following day, he was found dead in his sleep and was presumed to have died of a heart attack.
Medium: Television
Broadcast Date: Aug. 26, 1978
Program: CBC News Special
Host: Larry Stout
Reporter: Joe Schlesinger
Duration: 7:08

Last updated: February 22, 2013

Page consulted on August 28, 2014

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