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08 November 2017 | by Christopher Lamb

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THE SUMMER AND autumn of 1978, the year of three Popes, will go down as one of the most dramatic periods in contemporary church history. It saw the death of Paul VI and then, just 33 days after his election, of John Paul I, followed by the conclave from which Karol Wojtyla emerged as John Paul II. The sudden death of Albino Luciani, known as the “Smiling Pope”, led to speculation that hostile forces in the Vatican had hastened his end. Luciani, the argument goes, was a compassionate moderniser whom the old guard feared. 


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