I appreciate all (well, almost all) comments on the blog. One of its strengths is, I think, that we are able to have discussions about a variety of issues and generally, even where we come from different viewpoints, we can debate points with courtesy and respect for others’ views.
I think the discussion following my previous post about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is a credit to civilised conversation, and I am very proud that such a debate takes place here. I find it amusing how many readers were at Bellahouston in 1982. Who knew we would meet again across the ether 31 years later!
One of my favourite commenters, both for his writing and for the pleasure of his company in person, is Henry Clarson.
He posted a comment regarding my observations about the death of Pope John Paul I.
His comment is below, and it is followed with some of my thoughts on the specific issue he raises.
Readers will note (I’m talking to you Maggie) that we refer to a couple of books. I am happy for people to have a “book club” discussion too, and I will do a couple of posts about what I like (and don’t) which I am sure might provoke a bit of chat too.
Anyway, back to the plot …
Henry wrote, starting with a quote from my piece:-
It prompted speculation about the nature of his death, by writers who linked it with the Vatican Bank/Banco Ambrosiano/Roberto Calvi scandal. Some books were produced explaining how and why the Pope had been supposedly murdered. With hindsight they fall into the category of the Da Vinci Code – books that rattled along, telling a good story, but one with no connection with reality.
With all due respect, that’s an extremely naive position, Paul. At best.
I don’t think there is much “supposedly” about it. There’s a very strong case to answer in the light of the documented facts of that period when Operation Gladio was in full swing, former prime minister Aldo Moro was shot dead, Licio Gelli was heading the P2 Lodge, the stinkingly corrupt Banco Ambrosiano was routinely laundering money from the proceeds of heroin trafficking prior to its scandalous collapse and any law enforcement officials or investigators who conducted investigations into these matters were regularly found dead.
It’s hard to know where to even begin but just off the top of my head, here are a few very real connections to reality.
P2 member and Banco Ambrosiano Chairman Roberto Calvi was murdered in London. Calvi had warned John Paul 2 that the impending collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano could cause the Catholic Church the gravest damage and had the potential to be a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions
P2 member, bent banker and all-round bad egg Michele Sindona was fatally poisoned in an Italian prison less than two years into his twenty-five year sentence. He had been found guilty of ordering the murder of the lawyer Giorgio Ambrosoli.
Giorgio Ambrosoli was shot dead almost immediately after he had furnished the US Justice Department with sufficient evidence to indict and convict Sindona of dozens of charges of fraud, money-laundering, perjury, misappropriation of bank funds and so on.
Ambrosoli also shared the results of his inquiries with the Palermo police superintendent Boris Giuliano who was also investigating heroin money-laundering at the Vatican bank. Giuliano was murdered ten days after Ambrosoli’s assassination.
And so it goes on. I could easily find dozens of similar examples of what happens to people who get on the wrong side of the Propaganda Due criminals who are deeply embedded in Italian politics, judiciary, secret intelligence services, financial institutions and the Catholic Church itself.
I haven’t even mentioned bad hats such as Giulio Andreotti, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, Silvio Berlusconi, Cardinal John Cody, Cardinal Jean-Marie Villot, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli and a host of other Freemasons who were part of Licio Gelli’s P2 lodge.
Sadly, John Paul the First never stood a chance. As far as “connecting to reality” is concerned, Albino Luciani not only had the realism to recognise the ungodliness that riddled the Vatican but also had the immense moral courage and resolve to confront it directly or die in the attempt.
He died in the attempt.
Luciani had made up his mind to flush Freemasonry out of the Vatican and unfortunately for him he depended upon Freemasons in the Vatican’s own civil service to execute his instructions. There was as much chance of that being permitted to happen as there is of Campbell Ogilvie cleaning up Scottish football.
33 days, eh?
It is one of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century that Luciani did not succeed in his desire to clean up the Church. In genuine good faith, he was prepared to pay whatever price was necessary in order to put the Church on a firm moral footing, That it probably cost him his life is in itself desperately sad but it’s not nearly as sad as the fact that his selfless sacrifice appears to have been totally in vain. Not only does the Catholic Church remain under the control of thoroughly unworthy men but the rank and file of the Church’s membership appear to be utterly heedless of the need to follow Luciani’s lead and that’s likely to remain the case. Catholics who did hear the alarm going off and raised their own concerns have been ignored or marginalised. Indeed, most of them probably baled out of the Church years ago.
When the stink of criminality from the Instituto per le Opere di Religione (aka the “Vatican Bank”) was belching out of St. Peter’s Square in the 1970s, the Church’s response (Luciani excepted) was essentially, “Nothing to see here, it’s all under control. No further questions, thank you, move along now…”
The same response continued through the 1980s and 1990s with the addition of an inference that a few bad apples had been found and rooted out, following the demise of crooks such as Calvi and Sindona.
Yet still the IOR stinks to the high heavens. Its last president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, is currently being investigated for money-laundering activities and was ousted from the bank last summer. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-05-24/vatican-bank-chief-ousted-after-money-laundering-scandal
I’m genuinely surprised, Paul, that when it comes to the scandals afflicting Scottish football in the wake of the appalling behaviour of Rangers Football Club, you are prepared to meticulously scrutinise every statement, parse every last letter and punctuation mark and rigorously analyse the possibilities and potentialities of anything which leaves the lips of Craig Whyte, Charles Green, David Murray, Campbell Ogilvie, Stewart Regan, Neil Doncaster, Ally McCoist, Bill McMurdo, John Brown and dozens of others.
You can see all kinds of ways in which their words and actions might conceivably be indicative of cunning wheezes, suspicious motives, deceitful practices, stings and scams. While you stop well short of accusing any of these parties of behaving in a criminal matter, you put enormous effort into explaining how an uncharitable soul might choose to interpret their deeds or their statements in an unkind light.
Yet somehow you have a blind spot about the death of Albino Luciani. As Pope John Paul 1, he became one of the few men in the world – in fact, almost certainly the only one – who had the principles, the courage, the office and the moral authority to challenge the combined powers of the Mafia, the Freemasons, crooked bankers, bent politicians, criminal clergymen, corrupt Vatican civil servants, duplicitous CIA agents and rogue law-enforcement agencies, all of which had everything to lose if Luciani managed to carry out his intentions. Dozens of his enemies were ultimately convicted of the gravest crimes, including murder. It’s glaringly obvious that many more literally got away with murder.
Prominent and influential figures, including a prime minister, were indisputably murdered in Italy with numbing regularity while countless others died in highly suspicious circumstances.
Yet, somehow, the possibility that Luciani was also murdered is something that you can entirely dismiss as having “no connection with reality”? Seriously?
Very, very strange.
It’s a wonder that he lasted for as long as thirty three days.
There are many inter-woven strands in the stories Henry was referring to. I should say that I have no doubt that many evil and criminal deeds took place surrounding the Vatican Bank (the ironically titled Institute for Religious Works).
Maybe there is naivety on my part in thinking it unthinkable that the theories, principally those expounded in David Yallop’s “In God’s Name”, do not stand up to scrutiny. I read the book in the mid-80’s, not long after it was published. Mr Yallop does not fall into the category of pot-boiler writers.
His books on the Craig/Bentley murder case, Carlos the Jackal, FIFA’s machinations and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle are all excellent, diligently working to build a case forensically.
He did the same in “In God’s Name” and the case he made, as elegantly summarised by Henry, stands as one which seems internally credible.
However I have also read John Cornwell’s “A Thief in the Night”. Mr Cornwell, in my view, debunked the thesis proposed by Mr Yallop, and explained the various elements which made up the circumstantial case laid out in “In God’s Name”.
In that regard therefore I am firmly in the Cornwell camp.
But there is no doubt that the Vatican Bank/Banco Ambrosiano connection was a huge stain on the reputation (and a huge drain on the resources) of the Vatican. The notorious “letters of comfort” prepared with the involvement of Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, which basically assured investors that the Banco Ambrosiano was solvent, backed by Vatican money, at the same time as the Vatican had an agreement that it was not backing the Bank amounted to a fraud.
Roberto Calvi did not, despite the initial inquest verdict, hang himself under Blackfriars Bridge in London. He is on the list of people, some of whom Henry mentioned, who met their deaths at the hands of others in Italy in the 1970’s and into the 1980’s.
The Propaganda Due masonic lodge, led by the Grandmaster Licio Gelli, was the centre for crimes involving millions upon millions of pounds, and it is true that the malign influences of that lodge extended across the whole of the upper reaches of Italian politics and finance, and into the Vatican itself.
Gelli himself, who is still alive and now aged 93, was charged, although not indicted, in 2005 for his alleged role in Calvi’s death. He told the court that he was a scapegoat for the real culprits who had killed Calvi in connection with his illegal financial of Solidarity in Poland on the instructions of the Vatican. It was his position that Calvi was killed to prevent him revealing the use of the Vatican Bank for money-laundering. The charge against Gelli was however that he had engineered Calvi’s death as a punishment for having stolen money from Banco Ambrosiano which was actually owed to Gelli and to the Mafia.
Michele Sindona, another crooked banker, was poisoned in his prison cell with cyanide in his coffee in 1986. He was serving a 25 year sentence for ordering the murder of the liquidator of his banks.
Aldo Moro, former Italian Prime Minister, was murdered by the Red Brigades having been kidnapped by them and held captive for 55 days. Rumours persist to this day of the involvement of more than simply the terrorists in his death.
The state of politics in Italy was hugely influenced by these malign forces.
Ironically, bearing in mind Mr Gelli’s dealings and the force exerted by P2 upon the Italian State, it seems that Prime Minister Berlusconi is the embodiment of Gelli’s plans. Indeed, in one statement, Gelli said that Berlusconi was doing what he (Gelli) had planned 30 years ago, and that he should have claimed copyright on the ideas!
So, my comment about the theories regarding the death of John Paul I being unconnected to reality relate solely to the death itself. I do not, as a result of the wide range of books and articles I have read regarding the state of Italy then, suggest that all was rosy in the vineyard. Clearly it was not, and this, in a political sense was emphasised by the late Mr Moro being one of the longest serving Italian Prime Ministers, having been in that role for only six years.
So, do I agree with Henry that there were probably “rotten apples” in the Vatican at that time? Yes.
Do I agree that people, such as Archbishop Marcinkus, seemed to have been involved in, at best, chicanery and at worst downright fraud? Yes.
Do I accept that Pope John Paul I might well have determined that he needed to act swiftly to root out this evil? Yes.
Do I believe that Vatican officials, including Cardinals, plotted to kill, and then killed, the Pope? No.
I profess no infallibility. Henry might well be right and I might be wrong, but my comments were what I felt and feel.
We know that, as Pope John Paul II found out in 1981, being the Pontiff is not an automatic defence against assassination attempts.
However, it might simply be, even putting the competing evidence of Yallop and Cornwell aside, that I cannot countenance a Cardinal or senior Vatican figure murdering, in cold blood, the Pope.
Posted by Paul McConville