As several media reported yesterday, the personal secretary to Pope John XXIII, Loris Francesco Capovilla, passed away at age 100. See the nice NYTimes report here.
Fr. Capovilla advised John XXIII against calling a council, but was overruled. But on the opening day of the Council, it was his idea that good Pope John address the crowd of c. 5000,000 in St. Peter’s Square. It was a PR masterstroke, complete with the pope’s famous words “Now go back home and give your little children a kiss — tell them it is from Pope John.”
Here’s one under-reported aspect of Capovilla’s story, and it has to do with Pope Francis. Pope Paul VI created 143 cardinals in six consistories; John Paul II created 231 cardinals in nine consistories, and Benedict XVI created 90 cardinals in five consisteries. None of these popes tapped Capovilla.
So when Pope Francis made Archbishop Capovilla a cardinal at his very first consistory in 2014, he lifted up not only a faithful servant of the Church, but also the pope who convened the Second Vatican Council.
May Loris Francesco Capovilla rest in peace.