Later this month Pope Francis is to make Archbishop Loris Capovilla, the former private secretary to Pope john XXIII, the world's oldest living cardinal at the age of 98, reports the Catholic News Service.
Most observers have interpreted the honour, scheduled for February 22, as an indirect tribute to Blessed John, whom Pope Francis will canonise April 27.
But the Cardinal-designate himself said in a telephone conversation on January 28, that his elevation is a 'sign of attention to all those thousands of priests around the world who have spent their lives in silence, in poverty, in obedience, happy to serve God and our humble people, who need, as Pope Francis continually says, tenderness, friendship, respect and love.'
Cardinal-designate Capovilla, who was born in Pontelongo, Italy, in 1915, and ordained to the priesthood in 1940, has hardly spent his own life in silence. A journalist before starting to work for Blessed John, he remains an energetic and eloquent raconteur, drawing on his remarkable memory for vividly detailed and revealing stories of his years with one of the most consequential figures in modern Catholic history.
He has also recounted those stories in numerous writings, including a memoir published in English as The Heart and Mind of John XXIII.
The cardinal-designate was privy to some of the Pope's first remarks, only a few days after his election in 1958, about what would become the Second Vatican Council. Cardinals and bishops had presented the new Pontiff with an array of challenges in areas that included the liturgy, diplomacy and the education and discipline of priests.
FULL STORY At 98, Blessed John XXIII's secretary to be oldest living cardinal (Catholic News Service)