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Holy See Communiqué: John Paul I Vatican Foundation, a year after its establishment, 28.04.2021

On 28 April 2020, the Holy See Press Office announced the institution of the John Paul I Vatican Foundation, established by Pope Francis with the Rescriptum ex audientia of 17 February 2020.

The purpose of the Foundation is to protect the documentary, cultural and religious heritage of John Paul I and to promote research, studies, in-depth study and the dissemination of his work and thought on an international level, by promoting conferences, setting up study grants and publishing activities. Since its establishment, the Foundation has worked hard to consolidate its structure and prepare activities that contribute to the knowledge and dissemination of Luciani’s theological and cultural legacy.

Its work began 22 May last, with a first meeting of the Board of Directors at the Vatican Secretariat of State during which the tasks were defined, the Scientific Committee was outlined and the activities and projects to be carried out and started according to the prefixed aims were indicated.

Important steps have been taken during this first year. Despite the adverse circumstances linked to the pandemic, the Board of Directors of the Foundation was able to meet on three further occasions in the Treaty Room of the Vatican Apostolic Palace: on 3 July and 26 September 2020, and on 27 February 2021, while the Scientific Committee met for the first time on 25 September 2020, laying the foundations for its work.

·         Among its first acts, the Foundation signed a Framework Agreement with the Vatican's Dicastery for Communication regarding the editorial rights for the use of writings, sound recordings and photographic material related to John Paul I.

·         Considering also that the Vatican does not have at its disposal the film material related to Pope Luciani, since in 1978 the CTV had not yet been established, the Foundation requested the acquisition for non-commercial purposes of the films kept at the Teche Rai (Radio Televisione Italiana). On 22 April 2021, a copy of this material was officially donated to the President of the RAI, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, on behalf of the RAI by Dr Massimo Milone, Director of RAI Vaticano.

·         Since one of the Foundation’s main activities is the publication of studies on John Paul I's work, the creation of an ad hoc series dedicated to John Paul I was agreed upon with the Vatican Publishing House. The collection of volumes began with the re-edition of two texts: the monumental Biografia ex documentis edited by Stefania Falasca, Davide Fiocco and Mauro Velati and the re-edition of the volume Cronaca di una morte by Stefania Falasca. The latter volume has also been translated into English and Spanish and will be published shortly.

·         The series will continue with the work, currently in progress, on the critical edition of the teachings of John Paul I, with the complete synopsis of the speeches written and pronounced by the Pontiff and including the transcriptions of the diary and personal notebook of Pope Luciani during the 34 days of his pontificate. This publication will be followed by the critical edition of the Illustrissimi text.

·         During these months the Foundation has also created its own website in Italian and in English, which is now on-line:

·         Since 1 December, the Foundation has also had its own premises (Via della Conciliazione 3), which became operational at the beginning of the new year.

·         The private Archive of Albino Luciani has been transferred to the premises of the Foundation. It consists of all his writings, notebooks, diaries, lessons, correspondence, and printed material, relating to a broad time span from 1929 to 1978.

·         The corpus of papers - which on 1 December last year was brought back to the Holy See from the Historical Archive of the Patriarchate of Venice, where it had been transferred in October 1978 immediately after the death of John Paul I - consists of 64 folders. Given its importance, priority attention has therefore been focused on this Archive, since it constitutes the “patrimony” of the Foundation and is of fundamental importance for the realisation of the opera omnia project.

·         On 1 March 2021, under the guidance of the Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Archives, Msgr. Sergio Pagano, work began on the inventory and, at the same time, with the collaboration of the Vatican Apostolic Library, on the digitalisation of the Archive, starting with the series of 66 handwritten diaries (from 1960 to 1978), including the diary and notebook from the period of the pontificate. At the end of this work, a digitised copy will also be delivered to the Historical Archive of the Patriarchate of Venice.

·         For the inventory of the Archive, which is expected to take six months, a scholarship was awarded, as approved by the Board of Directors on 27 February 2021, which approved the establishment of other scholarships including two for theses on John Paul I at the Istituto Superiore di Scienze Religiose in Treviso.

·         Considering also that the private Archive was originally linked to a well-stocked library, as an integral part of the latter, by a well-stocked library, the projects already approved by the Foundation also include the re-establishment of Albino Luciani’s personal library, to be set up in Venice at the diocesan library of the patriarchal seminary.