It isn't everyday that I receive a postal letter from a 98 year old man in Italy; but a few days ago I did. The handwritten letter was on a long #10 envelope, and was personally addressed to me from Loris Francesco (Cardinal) Capovilla. Less than a month ago, on 22 February 2014, he was created a Cardinal of the Catholic Church at a special Consistory held at The Vatican. Although being of sharp mind, he was in frail health and asked Pope Francis to give him a dispensation allowing him to not attend the official ceremony, but was to receive his Cardinal's Hat and other accoutrements of his office at a private ceremony thereafter. The Pope granted his request.
Cardinal Capovilla was once the personal secretary to an earlier pope: Pope John XXIII who died in 1963, the same year I was born. I wrote then-Archbishop Capovilla shortly after his name was announced as one of the newest Cardinals. To my pleasant surprise: he not only wrote me back, but he hand-addressed the envelope, put "real" postage stamps on the envelope, and enclosed a little pamphlet which he personally autographed for me. I like a person who handles their own correspondence; and this is even more treasured in light of his being age 98 and that he took the time and effort to answer an American's airmail letter.
Cardinal Capovilla said he lives at Sotto Il Monte Giovanni XXIII, about 25 miles northeast of Milan, Italy. Indeed, new Cardinal Capovilla has seen a lot in his lifetime. "Vatican II" was initiated by his 'boss" (so-to-speak) Pope John XXII and concluded under Pope Paul VI. I applaud its reforms. Because of it, Catholic people globally could then attend services said in their native tongue. Even in America, Masses were previously said in the Latin language. I am thankful that services are now available in English, Spanish and other options --- depending on the local needs.
I applaud Pope Francis for elevating new Cardinal Capovilla to the rank of a Cardinal. He deserves it. The man was born in the year 1915 and has seen much in his lifetime. I am thankful that he reached-out to me via postal letter with all the courtesy and dignity befitting such a man. I wish more prelates and clerics were as courteous and thoughtful. I find that, regardless of denomination, the most "genuine" of priests/ministers/rabbis are those who "truly care" about living the tenets and precepts laid forth by Almighty God, and treating their fellow man with dignity and respect.