"...John XXIII was all artless joviality . " Come in ," he said in Italian to the group Belgian journalists, and his big hands made an inviting gesture . We were presented one by one to His Holiness . First in line was the correspondent of the French magazine La Lanterne . " Ah ," cried the Pope , "très bien , La Lanterne and tête . " When the man of La Dernière Heure came. And again he had a bon mot as reply by that name : his last hours, a man must always think . He said it in French , "Il faut toujours y penser " because he had long been nuncio in Paris , and he liked to play with the language of Voltaire .
When the whole row had passed , he made a speech . No, a " speech " I may not call , he just started telling . Yeah , he said he knew Belgium , he passed it a couple and he kept good memories of that abbey somewhere near Antwerp , were was it again , help me ... It was Schoten yes , Vita et Pax Schoten . That was a good time then. Beware, now it's not bad enough, but I'm here locked up too much, I should be able to get ... more among men.
And he chatted to us , but , as you talk to friends you have not seen for a long time. Casual, cordial. I got the warm feeling that I could tap him on the shoulder and ask , well, John, but tell me honestly what you miss the most .
His chatter eventually brought him finally to the event for which we had come to Italy , to Rome , to the Vatican : the visit of the King and Queen . And telling about the conversation that he had made , probably carried away by the friendliness of the interview with reporters , just before the royal couple , he praised the generosity and trusting faith of Baudouin and Fabiola and he forgot for a moment the diplomatic caution that a Pope expected : he told us that " Fabiola asked Him to bless the fruit she bore."
We looked at each other in amazement , accommodating in the story of the Pope and not even realizing that it was a serious diplomatic incident in the making here . Only when we are out in the fresh air on the St. Peter's Square were back - after John XXIII us called after leaving his apartment had " come back here soon again , because I forgot you to give a gift ( the classic rosary ) " - journalists asked each other : did we hear that right ? Does the Pope indeed said that Fabiola is pregnant ?
Yes, he had said .
Jan Lambin and me, people on the radio - then certainly the fastest means of communication - were the first to report the news to listeners in Flanders. And our words were not cold yet, or in Belgium the political hell broke loose.
The socialist figurehead Jos Van Eynde roared ( as the real Polder Bison for which he was given ) that the possible arrival of a successor had to be announced by the parliament , the democratically elected representatives of the notified for the Belgians by the legal government of the country in the first instance sovereign people , and not by the guy in Rome to a group of journalists who happen to be .
Well, it was in this blessed land again on overarm . Premier Gaston Eyskens had to used all political talent to calm down the crisis. A Belgian political crisis , inadvertently caused by the simple benevolence of the Pope of Rome , John XXIII ......."