Loris Francesco Capovilla, among the 19 new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis, is not only one of the longest-serving archbishops in the world but was John XXIII's secretary for the entirety of his pontificate.
Pope Francis made a surprise announcement during his Sunday Angelus on
Jan. 12, giving the names of those who will be created cardinals next
He emphasized that those chosen hail “from 12 countries from
every part of the world” and “represent the deep ecclesial relationship
between the Church of Rome” and the global other Churches.
Of the 19 men named, three are over the age of 80 – and will not be
eligible to vote in the next conclave – including Archbishop Capovilla,
who is the third longest-serving archbishop in the world and is
currently the Titular Archbishop of Mesembria.
Archbishop Capovilla was born in Pontelongo in 1915, which is a province
of Padua in the Italian region Veneto, and was ordained a priest by
Cardinal Adeodato Giovanni Piazza on May 23, 1940 for the diocese of
Following his ordination, the archbishop performed various tasks in
parishes around the diocese as well as for the curia, serving also as a
catechist for middle schools and as a hospital and prison chaplain.
During World War II the young priest offered his aid to the Air Force,
and spent much of his time helping to exclude as many airmen as possible
from internment in Germany, efforts which, sixty years later, were
lauded in Italian newspaper La Gazzetta di Parma under the headline “So
Don Loris defied the Germans.”
In 1945 the Cardinal-elect was designated as preacher for the Sunday
Radio in Venice, a position which he held until 1953, and in 1949 was
appointed by Patriarch Carlo Agostini to be director of the weekly La
Voce di San Marco publication.
Following these assignments, Archbishop Capovilla was appointed as
secretary to Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, who was elected as
Bishop of Rome on Oct. 28, 1958, taking the name of Pope John XXIII.
After the conclave, the newly elected pontiff maintained Archbishop
Capovilla as his personal secretary, who remained close to the Pope
until death in 1963. John XXIII is most commonly remembered for his
encyclical letter “Pacem en Terris,” and for his calling of the historic
Second Vatican Council.
Four years after the pontiff died, Archbishop Capovilla was assigned by
Pope Paul VI to the diocese of Mesembria, the see that was overseen by
the late Pope from 1934-1953, when he was still known as Archbishop
Although the Cardinal-elect resigned from his duties in 1988, he has
played an active role in many of the events related to the 50th
anniversary of the Second Vatican Council that was celebrated last year,
and despite his age, continues to work with unlimited availability in
the preparations for the April canonization of his longtime friend and
The canonization, during which Polish Pope John Paul II will also be
declared a Saint, will take place on Divine Mercy Sunday of this year in
Upon announcing the names of those to be made cardinals, Pope Francis
urged the pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square to pray for them, “that clothed
with the virtues and sentiments of the Lord Jesus, (the) Good Shepherd,
they can more effectively help the Bishop of Rome in his service to the
Among the others slated to be elevated to the rank of Cardinal are eight
bishops from Europe, seven from the Americas, and two from both Africa
Others who will be created cardinals but are not eligible to vote due to
age are Archbishop Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, and Archbishop Kelvin
Edward Felix, who have both been chosen, in addition to Archbishop
Capovilla, for their long-standing service to the Church.
The ceremony during which the Cardinal-elects will receive their new
titles and positions will take place on Feb. 22 of this year, following a
Feb. 20-21 consistory which will discuss the topic of the family.