Pope Francis has agreed to recognise the “heroic virtues’’ of his predecessor, John Paul I, bringing the Italian-born pope closer to Catholic sainthood, the Vatican said on Thursday.
A candidate with heroic virtues earns the title of “Venerable’’ and is two steps away from sainthood.
Beatification, which gives a person the right to the “Blessed’’ title, is next in line for John Paul I.
Born Albino Luciani in northern Italy, the late pope led the Catholic Church for only 33 days, died on September 28, 1978, at relatively young age of 65.
The official cause of death was heart attack, but conspiracy theorists suggested that John Paul I was murdered by people afraid of his plans to clean up the Vatican’s murky finances.
Earlier this week, a journalist also involved in John Paul I’s canonisation process published a book, claiming to have found evidence that there was no foul play.
John Paul I suffered chest pains hours before his death but turned down medical assistance, neglecting symptoms of fatal heart trouble, Stefania Falasca wrote, quoting confidential medical report.
Normally, miracles would have to be attributed to John Paul I to justify his beatification and, later, sainthood, but Francis could waive such requirements.
Many popes made it to sainthood, most recently John Paul II and John XXIII in 2014.