A 1978 file photo of Pope John Paul I. Pope Francis has moved Pope John Paul I, the pope who reigned for only 33 days, a step closer to possible sainthood. The Vatican said that Francis had signed a decree declaring that John Paul I lived a life of heroic virtue. The Vatican must confirm a miracle attributed to his intercession for him to be beatified, and a second miracle to be made a saint. AP Photo

Vatican City - Pope Francis has moved Pope John Paul I - the pope who reigned for only 33 days in 1978 - a step closer to possible sainthood just days after the Vatican endorsed a new book debunking decades of conspiracy theories about his sudden death.

The Vatican said Thursday that Francis had signed a decree declaring that John Paul I lived a life of heroic virtue. The Vatican must confirm a miracle attributed to his intercession for him to be beatified, and a second miracle to be made a saint.

Earlier in the week, "Pope Luciani: Chronicle of a Death" went on sale in Italy, declaring that the former Cardinal Albino Luciani died of a heart attack at the age of 65. The author, journalist Stefania Falasca, was involved in his beatification cause and had access to confidential Vatican documents, including his medical file.

The book features a preface by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who said it was time to move on and appreciate John Paul I's legacy and historic value to the Catholic Church.

Conspiracy theories have swirled for decades that Luciani was murdered in the Apostolic Palace as part of a plot involving the Vatican's scandal-marred bank. His September 28, 1978, death led to the election a few weeks later of the Polish cardinal, Karol Wojtyla, who took inspiration from his predecessor and named himself Pope John Paul II.

Associated Press