Vatican Press releases on Death of John Paul I

The press releases from  the Vatican on the death of Pope John Paul I change and conflict with each other as more information is released.

First Press release from Vatican to the ANSA (Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata),  stated in this English translation:

“This morning, September 29, 1978, around half past five, the Pope’s private secretary, having not found, unusually, of the Holy Father in the chapel of his private apartment, has searched his room and found him dead in bed with the light on, as if he was reading. The death was confirmed by Dr. Renato Buzzonetti:
After attesting his death, he stated that the death allegedly occurred about eleven o’clock last night, and argued it was sudden death that might have been caused by acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).”

At 7:30 on the morning of September 29, 1978, Vatican Radio broadcast the following bulletin:

Pope John Paul died before midnight last evening of myocardial infarction to the heart. He was discovered by his secretary Magee at six-thirty this morning who went to look for the Pope when he failed to show up for his morning chapel service… The bed lamp was on and he was sitting up in bed in his daytime clothes wearing his spectacles reading the ‘Imitation of Christ’ which book was held upright in his hands… ”

October 10, 1978 Vatican Radio issued a corrected bulletin:

“While the death of John Paul came as a surprise, there was the fact the Pope suffered from a serious low blood pressure condition and was in very poor health and frail throughout his brief papacy. In his last days his legs were so swollen he could barely stand… John Paul did not have in mind to make revolutionary changes in the Vatican hierarchy… We wish to correct our statement it was the Pope’s secretary Magee who discovered the body. The Pope was first discovered by the nun who delivered his coffee at the usual time. When she sensed something was wrong she summoned Magee… We wish to correct our statement His Holiness was reading the ‘Imitation of Christ.’ This was a communications error. He was reviewing some notes. That he retained them upright in his hands in the midst of a massive heart attack is by the Grace of God.”

The College Of Cardinals (Collegio cardinalizio) are the ones who leak this to press release. The dean of the college of cardinals at the time was Carlo Confalonieri.

Nine years later, the Vatican own investigator, John Cornwall, thinks that they’re morally responsible for John Paul I’s death and that Vatican officials’s behavior towards the new pope was condescending. Corwell also mentions a detail never heard before: the Pope’s dress had some rip: this is an extremely important detail, because would be one of the missing “signs of fight against death”


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