I very much liked his smile

In the two conclaves of 1978 the Archbishop of Manila was the youngest cardinal. Today he remembers…

by Cardinal Jaime L. Sin

Indeed time flies so fast. It was just like yesterday when I went to Rome to attend the two papal elections. It was Pope Paul VI of good memory who made me a cardinal in May of 1976. I was the youngest Cardinal then at 47 years old. Pope Paul VI was a serious but gentle Pope. He was very firm in upholding the teachings of the Church (as exemplified when he issued Humanae Vitae), but because of his diplomatic background, he was also a good listener. During the conclave following his death, I was still the youngest among the cardinals and so I was the doorkeeper. I was the one who attended to the needs of some of the elderly and infirm cardinals. I remember helping out Cardinal Albino Luciani of Venice one night. He was very simple, humble and meek. I liked his smile a lot. I took the palm of his hand pretending to know what the future holds for him. I joked that he will be the next pope. He was not happy about it and told me to go back to my room. The next day he was elected pope and history knew him as John Paul I, the smiling Pope. His reign was very short but created a lot of impact.
During the conclave that elected or present Pope, I was still the doorkeeper. I was seated near Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland. I noticed that he was very studious and reflective. He was quiet and preferred the background. He always carried a book (I think it was about philosophy). He never thought that he would be elected Pope. After all, we were used to an Italian Pontiff. But to his and the world’s surprise, he was elected the Vicar of Christ after several ballotings.
The world was anxious of the first Polish Pope in history. I guess he knew if that is why his first words during his coronation were: “Be not afraid!” True enough, we never fear for we have a brave, tireless and inspiring shepherd in Pope John Paul II. For the past twenty five years, John Paul II has led us in charity and holiness.
I join the whole world in thanking the Lord for sending us a great gift, a true shepherd, a vanguard of the faith, promoter of peace and champion of the human person. Viva il Papa!

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