The Metropolitan of Venice — Day 14

Friday, Sept. 8, 1978

Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy

Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy

Stories from Venice (AP)

One of Luciani’s first decisions in Venice was to allow parishes to sell jewels and precious stones in the churches and to give the proceeds to the poor. He refused to wear the customary precious ring that symbolized his office.

But when the ferments stirred by the Vatican Council reached Venice and its industrial mainland of Mestre, Luciani appeared to be on the conservative side. He was against worker priests   — those who went into the factories and fields to labor with the laity — and criticized unions over strikes and workers’ demonstrations.

St. Mark's Basilica in Venice at Nightfall

St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice at Nightfall

In 1975 he recommended disciplinary punishment for priests who spoke out in favor of the Communist Party or other leftist groups.

[H]is insistence has been on keeping in line with the liberalizing Second Vatican Council, which opened under the reign of Pope John XXIII and ended under Pope Paul VI.

John Paul, Mender of Fences (The Age)

In recent years Pope John Paul has been active in establishing family counseling clinics in Venice to help poor people cope with marital, financial and sexual problems. He is known as a champion of the poor and he once ordered the sale of gold in Venetian churches to provide money to help handicapped children.

He has been a critic of the Press, especially when it has attributed political epithets such as “Left” and “Right”” to individuals and groups within the church. Pope John Paul has said that such labels are a mistake and that people in positions of authority in the church have a duty to exercise their authority.

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