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  • Was Pope John Paul I Murdered? (Part I) | On Pilgrimage
    New Evangelization 2 Tolkien 4 Uncategorized 13 Vatican II 4 Women 1 Women s Health 3 Writing 30 Year of Faith 4 Spam Blocked 18 127 spam blocked by Akismet Home Pope John Paul I Was Pope John Paul I Murdered Part I Post navigation John Paul I on Love September 27 1978 The 30th Anniversary of John Paul I Was Pope John Paul I Murdered Part I Posted on August 22 2008 by Lori Here is the first part of the discussion of the Pope s death I promised Much of it is only slightly rewritten from the book that I tried to have published back in the 80 s and early 90 s It will however include a discussion of the second 2007 edition of David Yallop s book In God s Name In time I hope to do more research and put together the definitive treatment of the subject Many of the people who were close to Pope John Paul I have always been reluctant to talk about the controversy surrounding his death This is not because they want to conceal anything but rather because they are weary of being questioned on the subject They wonder why there is so much interest in the theory that the Pope was murdered and so little in his life They feel betrayed by those who have distorted the facts they have provided in order to write scandalous books and angry because those who read these books seem to be more interested in sensationalism than they are in the truth When I spoke with the Pope s brother and sister in law and his secretaries Father Lorenzi and Father Senigaglia about his death back in 1985 they told me that they were afraid that attempting to refute these lies would only add to the furor and that no one cared about the truth anyway I am sure that Senigaglia and Lorenzi s feelings are the same today though the Pope s brother Edoardo and his wife Antonietta are now dead Antonietta died in 2006 and Edoardo in March 2008 I am not dwelling on the details of John Paul s death out of any love for sensationalism but only out of love for the truth In this case the truth is not difficult to determine There is not a shred of evidence to support any of the claims that Pope John Paul I was murdered on the evening of September 28 1978 The most famous of these claims is contained in David Yallop s sensational international best seller In God s Name An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I Bantam Books 1984 2nd ed 2007 in which the author claims that several people actually living inside Vatican City told him that John Paul I was murdered and gave him evidence to prove it Who exactly are these people and why would they make such an extraordinary accusation This is the most important question because the credibility of these sources is vital to the credibility of Yallop s book Explaining the nature of these sources is the best refutation of Yallop s claim that some highly placed cardinals the Grand Master of an illegal Masonic Lodge and some corrupt Italian financiers plotted together to murder a Pope While Yallop s book is perhaps the most famous there have a dozen or more other books in different languages exploring the same territory including both support and refutation The most famous of the latter is John Cornwell s equally scandalous best seller A Thief in the Night 1989 He does poke holes in the murder theory but then he comes up with an almost equally scandalous theory of his own I will have more to say about Cornwell s book later on But most of the treatments of the Pope s death are ultimately based on the same story or some version of it that was told to Yallop by his sources a story that goes back to the morning of the Pope s death That s why I want to begin by tracing the origins of this story as fully as possible so that the strength or weakness of the evidence it presents will be clear Its origin lies with some followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre the traditionalist leader who was in conflict with the Vatican at the time In order to talk about them I will first have to sketch in some background The Traditionalists and the Freemasons Catholics in the U S are familiar with the refusal of Lefebvre and his followers to accept any aspect of the Second Vatican Council and their belief that those who accept it are heretics But in Europe especially in France the traditionalists or integralists as they are often called also refuse to accept anything that has happened in social or intellectual history since the French Revolution Many of them still believe in absolutist government in both Church and state and are opposed to modern democracy Archbishop Lefebvre himself showed sympathy towards the cruel right wing dictatorship in Argentina and the Franco dictatorship in Spain One of the beliefs that the traditionalists share with others on the extreme right is their hatred of Masonry because to them it represents everything wrong with the modern world The organization that the traditionalists find so evil actually began in the Middle Ages as a perfectly respectable Catholic stonemasons guild In later centuries the Masons began to develop strange religious rituals at variance with Catholic teaching As a result beginning in 1738 the Church forbade Catholics to become Masons Some branches of Masonry particularly those in Italy and France were sympathetic to Enlightenment thought Deism and anticlerical and revolutionary movements In 19th century Italy many Risorgimento leaders belonged to Masonic Lodges of the Grand Orient Rite which were famous for their attacks on the papacy Because of this Masonry became a hated word to many Catholics For the Catholic ultraconservatives in France who refused the accept the French Revolution in the 18th century and their descendants who reacted the same way to the beginnings of modern democracy in the 19th and 20th Masonry remains the root of all evil In line with these beliefs many of the followers of Lefebvre attribute not only the Council but all of modern thought to the workings of a sinister Masonic plot Lefebvre himself has described it as a secret pact which existed even before the Council between high dignitaries in the Church and in Masonic Lodges 1 Even before the Council was over a number of conservative Catholics began claiming that there was clear evidence of connivance between some members of the Vatican Curia and the Freemasons The charge was repeated again in the 1970 s based on a distorted version of events that were then taking place in the Church What actually happened was this It was generally recognized that Masonry in England and the United States has not been revolutionary and hostility towards the Church among Masons in these countries has always been much rarer For a long time many Masons particularly in England have said that the Church was misrepresenting them when it called them anti Catholic Some Church officials including the well known Italian Jesuit Giovanni Caprile also urged a re examination of the Church s attitude toward Masonry Cardinal Villot was also said to be in favor of this idea The re examination of the question resulted in a confidential letter written in July 1974 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the episcopal conferences of England and several other countries explaining that the provision in canon law which stated that Catholics who join Masonic Lodges are to excommunicated should be interpreted to mean only those Lodges that were anti Catholic or plotted against civil governments This was in line with the modern policy of the Church to reduce as far as possible the number of automatic excommunications in canon law and was also a gesture of good will towards Masons Soon however the English hierarchy as well as Father Caprile and other writers suggested that the ending of the automatic excommunication could be taken to mean that Catholics could under certain circumstances be Masons and still good Catholics This idea was never officially adopted by the Church and in fact was eventually rejected by Pope John Paul II 2 The Church still insists that because of Masonry s beliefs and rites it is incompatible with Catholicism But for the traditionalists the very fact that some prelates were even considering a re examination of the Church s attitude towards Masonry meant that those in power in the Church had totally abandoned the Catholic faith and sold out to the ideas of the modern world All of this is the sole basis for the accusation that some Vatican prelates themselves were Masons It obviously has no basis in fact The accusation erupted again with surprising force in 1976 when Pope Paul began warning Lefebvre that he was heading for schism and asked him to stop ordaining priests It was at this time that articles began appearing in several right wing periodicals including the Italian journal Il Borghese and the French newspaper L Aurore accusing a number of Curial cardinals and even Pope Paul himself of secretly belonging to Masonic lodges The authors of these accusations naturally thought that this persecution of themselves the only remaining faithful Catholics could only be due to Masons infiltrating the Vatican The accusations were largely directed against the members of the Curia who were loyal to the Council and Paul VI s policies especially those who carried out the Pope s directives against Lefebvre and his movement Among the accused were Cardinal Villot the Vatican s Secretary of State who had sent to Archbishop Lefebvre the ultimatums of the Pope telling him to stop his unauthorized ordinations of priests at his seminary in Econe Switzerland and Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio who as head of the Congregation of Bishops had suspended Lefebvre from his faculties as a priest and a bishop in 1976 when he refused to comply with Pope Paul s orders Also among the accused was Archbishop Agostino Casaroli then the Secretary of the Council for Public Affairs of the Church and later Cardinal Secretary of State The traditionalists believed that Casaroli was in league with the Communists because he was implementing the Ostpolitik that is the Vatican s policy of negotiating with East European Communist governments to obtain religious freedom for Catholics in those countries 3 Many traditionalists wanted to believe that it was not really Pope Paul who was responsible for the condemnation of Lefebvre but the supposed Masons in the Curia It was a very important point because papal authority is after all infallible Very elaborate theories were developed to prove that the real Pope had not condemned Lefebvre In 1977 a man named Theodor Kolberg published a pamphlet The Deception of the Century in which he claimed that in 1975 Cardinals Villot Casaroli and Benelli had imprisoned Pope Paul in the Vatican and put in his place an exact double who was responsible for the actions taken against Lefebvre Kolberg and others reasoned that the Pope s infallible authority was not behind these actions since it was not the real Pope who was taking them The author relied in part on the revelations of Veronica Lueken a supposed visionary of Bayside New York who claimed that the substitution of an impostor for Pope Paul had been revealed to her by the Virgin Mary Lefebvre himself is said to have rejected this absurd story After Pope Paul s death Kolberg claimed that his body had not been embalmed and he been buried in the bare ground instead of a stone sarcophagus so that his body would decay more quickly and no one would discover that it was really the double in the grave Of course all traditionalists do not believe in this type of story But there are a few of them and they are certainly to be pitied who are so emotionally and mentally affected by their distress over changes in Church and society that they cannot accept that they fail to distinguish fantasy from reality This is exactly what happened to them in the case of John Paul I Origins of a Conspiracy Theory When John Paul I was elected many Catholics on the extreme right expressed great hope in him The Italian right wing paper mentioned above Il Borghese hoped that Cardinal Luciani s election would bring Catholics to a new commitment in the battle against Communism as militant disciples of the Church of Rome not as followers of Popes enslaved to an Ostpolitik pleasing to Pravda 5 Even though Archbishop Lefebvre was suspicious because John Paul I had taken the names of the Popes of the Council many traditionalists in Rome were pleased at his election Later Franco Antico the secretary of the Rome based traditionalist organization Civilta Cristiana would say that he believed that John Paul I would have reversed many of the changes in the Church under Paul VI and that he was deeply displeased that Lefebvre had not sought an audience with him before his death 6 It was with similar hopes that the believers in the Masonic conspiracy had stepped up their campaign by sending lists of curial Freemasons to the Vatican hoping that this would persuade John Paul I to discharge the culprits However if these traditionalists believed that Pope John Paul I shared their views then they could have known very little about him He was a great supporter of the Council and Paul VI s reforms It is true that he was denounced by the leftist Catholic dissent in Italy as a reactionary because he had taken a strong stand again Christian activists who adopted Marxist ideology and because he had tirelessly fought against the legalization of divorce and abortion It was also said that several conservative cardinals in the Curia had supported his election including cardinal Felici and Vagnozzi This plus a great deal of wishful thinking may have led some traditionalists to believe that John Paul I would champion their cause He was actually anything but sympathetic to their views In fact he had already written a number of articles while he was Patriarch of Venice refuting the beliefs of Lefebvre and his followers and decrying their disobedience I will go into this more later Nevertheless the ultra traditionalists belief that Luciani was favorable to them was so strong that when he died some of the more extreme began to claim that he was murdered by leftists in the Vatican It began almost as soon as the Pope s body was discovered The Abbé Ducaud Bourget an associate of Archbishop Lefebvre said in Paris on the morning of September 29 Perhaps agents of Satan in the flesh is what was the cause of the two heart attacks in such a short time in the Vatican i e those of Paul VI and John Paul I He later elaborated It is hard to believe that the death was natural considering all the creatures of the devil that inhabit the Vatican 7 For Ducaud Bourget and some of the more extreme traditionalists creatures of the devil could be none other than Cardinal Villot and the other prelates in the Curia who they suspected of destroying the Church simply because they were faithfully carrying out the reforms of Vatican II Now they suspected these prelates of murdering Pope John Paul I Then Rafael Gambra a professor at the University of Madrid wrote a letter to the conservative Spanish newspaper El Imparcial saying that John Paul had been planning to bring discipline back to the Church and may have been murdered by those who wanted to prevent him from carrying out his plans He called for an autopsy 8 Fuerza Nueva a Spanish religious group with ties to the Franco regime made similar accusations But a traditionalist organization in Rome Civilta Cristiana was the most persistent one When the spokesman for this group Franco Antico met with the press on October 3 1978 he said that his organization was considering charges that a person or persons unknown had murdered Pope John Paul and that he was going to ask the Vatican to start an inquiry We have information we will put at the disposal of the authorities if they decide to make an inquest Antico said He would not discuss this information but he did say that the circumstances of the Pope s death gave rise to doubts Why was there no doctor on duty in the Vatican that night he asked Why had the light continued to burn all night in the Pope s room with no one apparently noticing it And why had the Vatican failed to issue a death certificate 9 Antico seemed to be hinting that the Pope s murder was an inside job If that is the case it is not hard to guess who the suspects were the evil Masonic Cardinals in the Vatican Some French speaking Catholic journalists covering the story quickly concluded that Civilta Cristiana s insinuations were directed mainly at Villot whom they described as the be te noire of Msgr Lefebvre s Roman friends 10 The traditionalists seem to have particularly hated the French cardinal because he was among the more liberal minded prelates in the Curia and because he had defended his fellow French bishops in their struggle to restrain Lefebvre and his followers The rumor that Villot was supposed to have urged allowing Catholics to become Freemasons only added fuel to their suspicions It certainly would have fueled those of Antico the author of a pamphlet attacking Masonry 11 On October 6 Antico presided over a press conference in which he further described the charges that his organization was making He continued to insist that the Vatican s version of events surrounding the

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  • Was Pope John Paul I Murdered? (Part II) | On Pilgrimage
    contrary to custom he had not found the Holy Father in the chapel of his private apartment looked for him in his room and found him dead in bed with the light on like one who was intent on reading The physician Dr Renato Buzzonetti who hastened to the Pope s room verified the death which took place presumably toward eleven o clock yesterday evening as sudden death that could be related to acute myocardial infarction The declaration was also published on the front page of that day s Osservatore Romano in a story Pope John Paul I in the Peace of the Lord The accompanying story said The first person to become aware of the Pope s death was his private secretary Father John Magee who immediately informed the Secretary of State by telephone 2 People were incredulous because the Pope s health had seemed perfect at the audience just two days before The people of Rome who had immediately loved the Pope were devastated And in accordance with the general atmosphere I mentioned some suspected a dark plot In the neighborhood of Albergone in Rome where a Communist youth had been shot to death the night before by a right wing youth a 16 year old student said of John Paul He was a revolutionary Pope who wanted to get closer to the people That s why they eliminated him 3 Who they were didn t really matter It could have been any number of corrupt higher ups People didn t need any evidence to suspect that their beloved Pope had been murdered Vatican Radio and various news agencies later announced that the Pope was reading the devotional classic The Imitation of Christ when he died The next day however the Pope s other secretary Father Diego Lorenzi said that he was looking at some of his old sermons while working on his Sunday Angelus address This seeming contradiction with the official source aroused suspicion Father Andrew Greeley an American priest in Rome writing a book about the election of the Pope told his tape recorded diary If they the Vatican lie about little things they ll lie about big things There s no reason to trust anything they say 4 There was mounting talk about having an autopsy on the Pope By October 3 some of the common people of Rome were convinced that the Pope was killed by the Curia or by whoever else they blamed for all the problems in the world They cried out as they walked by his bier Who did this to you 5 On October 4 John Paul I s funeral Mass was celebrated in St Peter s Square in the pouring rain amid universal grief On October 6 Civilta Cristiana s spokesman Antico said that his organization had concrete evidence to back up his calls for an investigation into the Pope s death Perhaps it was no coincidence that same day a number of major papers published a story which the Italian news agency ANSA had obtained the day before from what it called a good source It gave an account of the events surrounding the Pope s death which seemed to suggest that he had spent his last hours in conflict with Villot and other members of the Curia It said without giving specific details or names that John Paul was about to make some important personnel changes in the Curia and among the Italian bishops and hinted that some in the Curia were opposed to these changes It also said that the Pope had argued about them at length with Cardinal Villot on the day of his death and that he had also spoken about them with Cardinal Colombo of Milan that evening It was four sheets of paper containing notes for one of these executive acts the source said that the Pope took to bed with him that night and which were found in his hands when his lifeless body was discovered in the morning The source also gave an account of the discovery of the Pope s body that differed in many respects from that given by the Vatican s official statement It said that the first person to discover the Pope s body was not Father Magee but Sister Vincenza the superior of the nuns in the papal household who then ran to wake up Father Magee and that the discovery took place at 4 30 a m a whole hour before the time given in the Vatican press statement 6 Before publishing the story ANSA obtained from the Pope s brother Edoardo Luciani confirmation of the fact that Sister Vincenza had discovered the Pope s body which had been relayed to them by Don Diego Lorenzi when he gave them the news of his death This apparently convinced the agency that the rest of the account was accurate and it decided to publish it 7 Of course it caused a sensation in the world press This story about a disagreement between the Pope and Villot and plans to remove some highly placed prelates from their posts seems to have come from a traditionalist source Is there any direct link between it and Civilta Cristiana In their popular 1983 book about the Vatican Pontiff Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts state that Antico received a very similar story early on September 29 in a phone call from someone with good Vatican connections and that he immediately afterwards phoned the story to ANSA 8 Considering the notorious inaccuracy of this book for one thing it gives the wrong date for the news story I am cautious about accepting this at face value However I believe that it is quite possible some members of Civilta Cristiana were the source behind the story Did Antico s statement that the concrete evidence could not yet be released perhaps mean that he thought that the news agency was still hesitating over whether to publish the story However the source may equally well have been another similar group of traditionalists In a 1981 interview Giovanni Gennari a former priest and a member of Italy s leftist Catholic dissent gave some details about the changes that the Pope was supposedly planning which he said he had obtained in 1978 from some Vatican employees Like many other leftist Catholics Gennari believed that Luciani was an extreme conservative Unlike the traditionalists Gennari had actually known Luciani personally But since he was also affected with ideological presuppositions this time those of the left he is scarcely the type of person to give an objective opinion of his views Nevertheless Gennari believed that Luciani was the man most congenial to the Old Curia s hopes for a restoration 9 In other words he was going to replace all the liberals in the Curia and the Italian hierarchy with men who were favored by the most conservative faction in the Curia According to Gennari s sources Villot and Casaroli were among those to be removed Another was Ugo Poletti the vicar of Rome who was known for his concern for the city s working class population Villot was to be replaced by Cardinal Benelli and Poletti by Cardinal Felici When Villot heard of the proposal he became alarmed and told the Pope that such changes would be a betrayal of the legacy of Paul VI the end of Ostpolitik and the complete triumph of the restoration Cardinal Colombo was also supposed to have strenuously opposed these plans during his telephone conversation with the Pope on the night of September 28 Gennari did not say that the Pope was murdered but he said that he was profoundly shaken by the controversy and hinted that the stress may have led to his death a few hours later Unfortunately while the above story was given wide publicity most journalists who speculated about it were ignorant of the real motives of Civilta Cristiana and the other traditionalist groups who originated it But Church officials understood these motives very well While the controversy was raging in the days after the Pope s death Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia explained that Civiltà Cristiana was trying to prove that some unidentified leftists inside or outside the Vatican had murdered the Pope and as a result suspicion was spreading like a subtle poison among people who did not know the group s motive The American public has a right to know how the rumors started and how the rightists used them to advance themselves and their cause Krol said 10 But the damage was already done His explanation was largely ignored while the press had a field day with the theory that the Pope was murdered The story that originated in this fashion has had a long and fruitful life in the past thirty years Several books have been published amplifying the traditionalists beliefs about the Pope s death In 1984 Jean Jacques Thierry who had been a correspondent for L Aurore the French newspaper that had launched accusations of Freemasonry against much of the Church hierarchy published a novel called La vraie mort de Jean Paul Ier The True Death of John Paul I in which he suggested that if Villot was guilty of the substitution of a double for Paul VI then he could well have been guilty of murdering John Paul I and then covering up the murder when the new Pope found out about him and his Freemason friends 11 There have been other recent books articles and even Internet pages which I will discuss later In Pontiff Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts give Civilta Cristiana as the source for their account of the discovery of the Pope s body Their account agrees in many details with the ANSA story Although the authors do not say directly that the Pope was murdered they do say that Cardinal Villot lied about who discovered his body and about what he was reading at the time of his death Though they follow the traditionalists story closely the authors do offer a different explanation of the mysterious papers the Pope was holding they contained a severe condemnation of the Jesuits and their General Father Pedro Arrupe for their disobedience to the hierarchy and their support of Marxism and liberation theology They add that Cardinal Villot was determined to conceal this condemnation so he forbade its release and instead concocted the story that the Pope had been reading The Imitation of Christ 12 Either version would certainly be pleasing to the right where theories of conspiracies among the Jesuits are also common For instance in his book The Jesuits Malachi Martin who is famous for his accusations against those in the Church whom he believes to be leftists insinuates that the Jesuits were in league with the Freemasons who worked in the Vatican and that John Paul I planned to liquidate the Society of Jesus if it did not reform itself immediately Nothing would be more natural to those who believe in these theories than to suspect Cardinal Villot of obeying Masonic orders to prevent the condemnation of the Jesuits from being publicized 13 Now for the analysis First and most important the motives for the murder are all utterly without credibility First of all the picture of John Paul I that they present is completely at odds with his real beliefs as evidenced by his actions and writings as a bishop This is what my whole book is going to prove He was a strong supporter of all the Vatican II reforms and Pope Paul s Ostpolitik as well He was anything but sympathetic to the traditionalists claims against Paul VI and the Church hierarchy and began speaking out against them especially after the Lefebvrites began spreading their accusations against the hierarchy in his diocese When in 1977 Lefebvre launched accusations against some bishops he considered leftists or outright Communists Cardinal Luciani responded in an article in the city newspaper of Venice Il Gazzettino in which he pointed out that Lefebvre s statements about leftist bishops were not backed up by any proof Besides he added isn t the French prelate aware of the almost daily accusations of the left against the episcopate in Italy because it declares that Christianity and Marxism are incompatible He also expressed his pain that Lefebvre had launched similar charges against Pope Paul VI to whom Lefebvre professes himself in words to be so devoted I said in words in deeds he aligns himself with Voltaire who used to say The Pope is a holy person therefore let us kiss his foot but tie his hands 14 When a Lefebvre supporter wrote a letter to the editor criticizing his article and denouncing Pope Paul for receiving Hungarian Communist Party Secretary Kadar at the Vatican Luciani replied I simply cannot understand this criticism from Catholics With his mandate to evangelize the world and with two thirds of which is under the influence of Communism the Pope must try every means There are some risks and he knows it better than we do let us help him not by criticizing him but by praying for him and supporting him 15 Luciani was well aware as were all other sensible Catholic bishops of the fanaticism exhibited by many traditionalists It is absurd to suggest that as Pope he would have actually believed the accusations of Masonry that they directed at their enemies Nor did John Paul have any animosity against the Jesuits or their leader In fact when he was still studying at the seminary he had ardently desired to enter the Jesuits himself but his bishop would not allow it because of the great need of priests in the diocese He had had a Jesuit confessor Father Leandro Tiveron in Venice The activities of some Jesuits may have caused problems but John Paul was sensible enough not to apply them to the order as a whole or to Arrupe In fact a few days after becoming Pope he had written a warm letter to Arrupe in which he recalled that he had admired the Jesuit General s intervention at the 1977 Synod enough to personally ask him for a copy of it The Pope had indeed been planning to deliver an address to a meeting of the Jesuits in Rome on Saturday September 30 However no one in the Vatican ever tried to conceal the text of this speech In general undelivered or unpublished documents that a Pope leaves at his death are not made known unless his successor wishes it What happened here was no different Father Arrupe had asked Cardinal Villot if the Jesuits could have the text of John Paul I s talk and the cardinal now John Paul II s secretary of State delivered it to him on November 18 1978 with the approval of the new Pope The address was published in the Acta Apostolica Sedis which contains all the official papal texts There is no condemnation in it and certainly no hint of the immediate demise of the order It did warn the Jesuits against secularist tendencies and abandoning the order s spiritual mission for tasks that could be better left to the laity but it also said that the Jesuits should concern themselves with social problems and urged them to announce the Christian message with fidelity but also in a language adopted to the modern mentality something that neither Martin or the traditionalists would agree with 16 So whatever the Pope may have had in his hands he most certainly would not have been holding papers detailing the suppression of the Jesuits or a traditionalist restoration in the Church So why all the discrepancies in the Vatican accounts And why the lie about who discovered the Pope s body The first official statement which witnesses later said that Villot put together said that a secretary discovered the body when it was really Sister Vincenza According to Father Magee now the bishop of Cloyne Ireland who had been alerted by Vincenza he insisted that his name not be put into the statement because he didn t want to be a party to the fabrication But Villot insisted that he couldn t release the information that a nun was in the Pope s bedroom 17 This might seem surprising to American readers but the Vatican is very straight laced It would be regarded as scandalous to admit that a woman had been in the Pope s bedroom at that early hour of the morning And in fact there was actually some reason for this uneasiness If the frequently anti Catholic secular press in Italy or much worse the Communist press got hold of the facts they would make the most of it When questioned the Vatican had to admit that the secretary in question was Fr Magee This is an attempt at a cover up of sorts the truth of which was not admitted by the Vatican until much later The issue of who discovered the Pope s body certainly does not offer any evidence that the Pope was murdered it only evidence that Cardinal Villot wanted to protect the Pope s memory from salacious gossip How did the Imitation of Christ story begin It was later traced it to speculation among the journalists from around the world who are accredited to the Holy See to cover Vatican events for their periodicals back home 18 The speculation eventually found its way onto Vatican Radio as a news report as well as out to wire services After it was given on Vatican Radio it erroneously acquired the status of an official Vatican statement and was cited as such 19 Contrary to what many people think however Vatican Radio does not get all of its news from directly inside the Vatican It uses all the regular news sources as well The important thing to notice is that in these stories the book was not said to be in

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  • Was Pope John Paul I Murdered? (Part III) | On Pilgrimage
    him back in his original direction One was the finding and publishing of the P2 membership list in 1981 P2 was the infamous illegal Masonic lodge in Italy also known as Propaganda Due whose members have been responsible for a number of criminal activities Its Grand Master was Licio Gelli Other members included the Italian banker and tax lawyer Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi the head of the Banco Ambrosiano in Milan Both men were involved in a number of business deals with Marcinkus and the Vatican Bank Another thing was the questions that were raised in 1982 about the IOR s role in the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano and Calvi s suicide in London widely suspected to be murder That same year a book was published The Vatican Connection by Richard Hammer which told how in 1973 the U S Department of Justice had interrogated several Vatican officials including Marcinkus as a part of their investigation into the manufacture and ultimate destination of almost a billion dollars in forged U S securities Yet another thing was something that Yallop had learned about Luciani during his time in Venice in 1972 he himself had come up against the IOR and the Banco Ambrosiano in regard to the Banca Cattolica del Veneto The majority share of this bank in northern Italy were held by the Vatican Bank and the minority shares by many of the dioceses of the Veneto including Venice The bank provided the dioceses with the low cost loans necessary for their building of churches schools hospitals and other institutions In 1972 the Vatican Bank sold its shares to the Banco Ambrosiano without informing the bishops Luciani had gone to the Vatican to protest the sale and to have told a colleague who of course remains anonymous Calvi s money is tainted The man is tainted I would not leave the accounts in his bank if the loans he provided were totally free of interest 9 He was also said to have tried to get the directors of the Banca Cattolica now in Calvi s hands to change its name because to call a bank owned by Calvi Catholic was an outrage and a libel on all Catholics 10 In fact Yallop recounts a story told by his sources though he himself regards it as apocryphal in which Luciani had come to the Vatican to see Marcinkus with his complaints and had been rudely thrown out of his office 11 Yet even after learning all this in June 1983 Yallop was hesitating about his murder theory and even planning to write a straight biography of the Pope instead according to Fr Lorenzi Keep in mind that book manuscripts generally have to be turned in at least six months before publication date and In God s Name was published in June 1984 But he turned away from this idea in the end and went to murde It was in the midst of the Vatican s supposed financial corruption Yallop thought is where the motive for Pope John Paul I s murder must be found The new Pope had attempted to oust Marcinkus and Calvi and Sindona saw to it that he paid with his life And Luciani would be the perfect hero for opposing the financially corrupt Vatican Nevertheless as a result of his enthusiasm for this story the doings of Sindona Calvi the P2 and the Vatican Bank almost replaced John Paul I as the subject of his book Here was a potent cocktail combining corruption greed murder and that most controversial and juicy of targets the Vatican in short all the necessary ingredients for a mega best selling book However there was a catch If the Pope was murdered in his bed in one of the most closely guarded places in the world someone in the Vatican would have to have been intimately involved in the plot And as it happened two top prelates in the Vatican Cardinal Villot and Bishop Paul Marcinkus were on the traditionalists list of Masons Yallop must have believed that his was the connection he needed Hence his book s conclusion that not only Marcinkus but Villot was involved in the Pope s murder but that Villot covered up all the evidence on the morning of the Pope s death But what does the evidence for this boil down to Yallop s Evidence Yallop says that John Paul been alerted to the presence of Masons in the Curia in the article The Great Vatican Lodge in the right wing weekly L Osservatore Politico a copy of which had been mailed anonymously to the Vatican Among those it named as Masons were Cardinals Villot Baggio Casaroli and Poletti as well as Bishop Marcinkus the director of the Vatican s Institute for Religious Works IOR also known as the Vatican Bank Yallop says that the Pope was shocked by these revelations and began making plans to remove these men from their offices thus giving them a motive for murder 12 Yallop believes that the P2 was at the head of the Masonic conspiracy in the Vatican and that it was Licio Gelli who actually arranged the murder which was carried out by Villot Marcinkus or some other Vatican insider Yallop believes that Gelli arranged the murder of the Pope in order to prevent him from dismissing Marcinkus and disclosing the illegal operations in which his friends Sindona and Calvi had embroiled the IOR It is true that many of the extreme right wing haters of Masonry point to Vatican involvement with P2 members Sindona and Calvi as further evidence for the Masonic conspiracy For instance in Malachi Martin s novel Vatican 1986 there is a detailed account of a conspiracy involving what Martin calls P1 or Masonry in general the P2 Gelli s lodge and the KGB Martin believes that it was these organizations along with Protestants liberation theologians and various other evildoers who were behind the pontificate of Paul VI and arranged the murder of John Paul I The novel was advertised as fiction but it represents Martin s true views of the history of the Church 13 But it is debatable whether P2 was the left wing organization the right seems to think Its Grand Master Licio Gelli fought for the Fascists in World War II and later when the tide turned against the Fascists he began spying for the Communist partisans Like Gelli many of the organization s members were opportunists who cultivated whoever was in power But the actual beliefs of many of them including Gelli were strongly anti Communist and it is believed that Gelli hoped to prevent a Communist take over in Italy by building up the power of the right and through scare tactics and manipulation of public opinion to pave the way for a right wing coup If this is the case the P2 would hardly be involved in a leftist conspiracy But more important the P2 was evidently not the main suspect for Yallop s traditionalist sources They were not so much concerned about the Vatican Bank as they were about the supposed treachery of liberal Cardinals like Villot and Casaroli And the evidence that Yallop supplies for the Vatican P2 conspiracy is anything but convincing Yallop leads his readers to believe that there were Vatican members of the P2 but the evidence that he offers proves nothing of the kind No Vatican prelates appeared on the P2 membership list published in 1981 The names of the Vatican Masons on the list in L Osservatore Politico were supposed to have been enrolled in several lodges Villot for example was supposed to have belonged to a lodge in Zurich but Yallop does not provide the name of even one who was supposed to have belonged to the P2 In fact the Osservatore Politico list was composed almost entirely of bishops cardinals and other high ranking prelates while the P2 list was composed of influential lay people and high government officials Yallop claims that the Pope asked Cardinal Felici if some of the cardinals on the list were actually Masons and that Felici had replied in the affirmative This conversation one of many which Yallop includes in his book but admits came to him second hand was most likely related to him by his traditionalist sources According to the story Felici explained that the list was very similar to one passed around the Vatican in 1976 and that it was intended to influence the new Pope s decisions about Vatican appointments These lists appear to have emerged from the Lefebvre faction Felici is supposed to have said Not created by our rebel French brother but certainly used by him 14 There was therefore every reason for John Paul I to give no credit to this list for he was already familiar with Lefebvre s accusations against the bishops and had rejected them as the nonsense that they were That John Paul was studying the accusations made by the Lefebvre faction is plausible In fact Edoardo the Pope s brother who visited him in the Vatican and stayed overnight on September 20 21 recalled the Pope saying that a dossier had been prepared for him on the Lefebvre affair 15 much of which he was already familiar with from Venice The accusation that Curial Cardinals were Freemasons might have made him laugh or it might have made him groan but he never would have believed it Cardinal Felici himself according to Yallop believed the list of Vatican Masons to be at least partly fabricated There is of course every reason to believe that it was completely fabricated Because of the total lack of evidence for his theory Yallop himself is forced to admit that Vatican Freemasons were by and large not P2 members 16 In reality he has failed to demonstrate that there were Freemasons of any kind in the Vatican let alone P2 members Yallop makes much of the fact that L Osservatore Politico was published by a P2 member named Mino Pecorelli He believes that Pecorelli who was disillusioned with the P2 wanted to publish the list of Masons in order to embarrass Gelli by revealing his association with Marcinkus and other Vatican prelates But once again Yallop s statement is misleading The list was not intended to be one of P2 members nor did the article suggest any connection with Gelli Pecorelli was only using the same list of Masons that other extreme conservatives including the traditionalists had used It is more likely that Pecorelli s real reason for publishing the list was that he genuinely believed as many other rightists did in the existence of a leftist Masonic conspiracy in Italian society and in the Church It may also be that in accord with what many people believe to have been P2 s usual practice he was publishing the list as evidence of such a conspiracy in order to provoke fear and hatred of the left Encouraging belief in a Vatican Freemason connection would also help to neutralize the Vatican in case of a major rise to power by the right in Italy In fact the publication of Pecorelli s list was a stupendous irony here was a member of a Masonic lodge accusing others of being Masons But although it was at least on the surface a Masonic organization the P2 had very little to do with the supposed left wing aims of Masonry Yallop says that not only Sindona and Calvi but also Gelli and Umberto Ortolani another P2 member had a powerful influence within the Vatican Yallop s evidence for Ortolani s ties to the Vatican is very weak The traditionalist origins of Yallop s evidence against Ortolani is evident from his account He says that Ortolani helped the liberal Cardinal Lercaro to arrange the election of Pope Paul VI The extreme right has long been claiming that liberals and Masons arranged the election of Pope Paul whom they claim was a Mason so that they could take control of the Church However the conservative businessman Ortolani does not seem to have been a sympathizer with the liberal social ideas of Cardinal Montini Why he should have wanted to help elect him Pope is difficult to understand But the fact that Ortolani was known or rumored to be a Mason was evidently the only proof that the traditionalists needed that he was part of a conspiracy to elect a liberal Pope 17 The traditionalists were right in their belief that the Vatican Bank s association with Calvi and Sindona was bringing nothing but harm to the Church They are certainly not the only ones to say so But there is no evidence at all that the Vatican was part of a gigantic P2 conspiracy The presence a confederate inside the Vatican is absolutely necessary to the murder plot as Yallop himself admits Calvi Gelli and Ortolani were in South America at the time of the Pope s death and Sindona was in New York If any of these men had really wanted to murder John Paul I they could not have done so without the direct assistance of someone inside the Vatican Who might this person or persons have been Yallop insists that Gelli and some P2 members were personal friends with many bishops and cardinals working in the Vatican One of those on the P2 list for example was Francesco Baggio Cardinal Baggio s brother 18 But it is impossible to prove anything from this especially since the P2 list was apparently doctored by Gelli to include the names of people who had never heard of the organization but whom Gelli found it advantageous to have listed as members Yallop s Case Against Marcinkus Falls Apart The only person in the Vatican who did have a clear connection with some P2 members was Archbishop Paul Marcinkus What is Yallop s case against Marcinkus He says that Marcinkus was involved in criminal acts including a scheme to obtain almost a billion dollars in counterfeit securities for the Vatican Bank He says that as Patriarch of Venice Luciani had already become determined to stop the schemes in which Marcinkus and the Vatican bank had become embroiled as a result of their association with Roberto Calvi and the Banco Ambrosiano particularly the takeover of the Banca Cattolica del Veneto which had upset many priests in his diocese Upon becoming Pope Luciani decided to oust Marcinkus expose his crimes and end the IOR s association with Calvi Reason enough Yallop says for Marcinkus to have been involved in John Paul s murder Questions about the actions of the Vatican Bank are certainly legitimate but Yallop blows this question out of proportion Much of the book is a campaign against Marcinkus and much of it is on the level of the parallels Yallop draws between Marcinkus and Al Capone who simply happened to have grown up in the same town Cicero Illinois This makes entertaining reading but proves nothing The Vatican has always maintained that the Pope and Marcinkus were the victims of their misplaced trust in Calvi and Sindona The Vatican certainly made a colossal blunder in appointing Marcinkus as head of the Vatican Bank The brusque golf playing American priest had had no financial experience at all before his appointment Most people believe that Marcinkus because of his inexperience was duped by Sindona into helping him in his criminal activities Yallop however accuses Marcinkus of being fully aware of the criminal nature of the dealings he was involved in with Sindona and of enthusiastically participating in them Michele Sindona Marcinkus supposed partner in crime told a different story In speaking to a reporter from Newsweek in his prison cell in Otisville New York in 1982 Sindona practically admitted having deceived the head of the Vatican Bank Marcinkus was honest He does not have the financial background to be a wheeler dealer Sindona said He gave a judgment very similar to others who knew Marcinkus He is perfect socially but a zero banker He does not know banking 19 This statement was no doubt true Certainly it would have done Sindona no good personally It was the only crumb of comfort Sindona ever threw Marcinkus after having caused him so much grief Yallop however persists in his belief of Marcinkus corruption pointing to the securities fraud case The unconvincing scenario he puts forth however is typical of his approach A New York police detective named Joe Coffey stumbled onto this operation in 1972 while monitoring the activities of a New York mobster named Vincent Rizzo Rizzo and several Mafia associates had become involved with a scheme set up by an Austrian con man named Leopold Ledl and his associates who included a corrupt Italian businessman named Mario Foligni In 1971 Ledl and Foligni had contacted the Mafia with a request for some 14 million dollars worth of forged securities in large American companies as a test deposit for a total of 950 million which Ledl said had been ordered by Cardinal Eugene Tisserant for the Vatican Bank As proof of the order Ledl displayed a letter on Vatican stationery According to Foligni Marcinkus and Michele Sindona wanted to use the securities to finance some of their speculative business enterprises The FBI and the Justice Department were alerted and several of the American participants were arrested In 1973 William Aronwald a member of the New York Strike Force on organized crime visited the Vatican along with William Lynch of the Justice Department and two FBI agents in order to question Marcinkus and find out if he or anyone else in the Vatican knew about the scheme Cardinal Tisserant was now dead There they found out that the chief piece of evidence in the case was itself an obvious in fact rather amateurish bit of forgery Vatican officials pointed out that the letter which Ledl claimed was the Vatican s order for the securities was written

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  • Was Pope John Paul I Murdered? (Part IV) | On Pilgrimage
    helped bring Sindona into the Vatican world then he must have been involved with Sindona But he offers absolutely no proof for his involvement The administration of APSA is completely separate from that of the Vatican Bank A Rebel on Birth Control Yallop himself seems to have been uneasy about the plausibility of the motives he brings forth for Cardinal Villot s supposed complicity in the murder plot so he adds another one the Secretary of State was determined to prevent the Pope from carrying out his plans to liberalize the Church s teaching on birth control He apparently did not notice that this was in contradiction to the statements of his sources that the Pope was planning some very conservative changes and this is further evidence of Yallop s lack of understanding of Church issues Almost immediately after Cardinal Luciani s election the news stories began to pour out suggesting that as John Paul I he might change the Church s stand on birth control This was based on the fact that while bishop of Vittorio Veneto in the 1960 s and the special papal commission on birth control had been set up Luciani had studied the problem of in great depth More than once he had expressed a hope that a good pastoral solution could be found that would correspond to the hopes of many couples that the pill and other forms of artificial contraception might be allowed 3 In 1968 Pope Paul VI dissatisfied with the commission s conclusions asked the episcopal conferences of Lombardy and the Veneto where Luciani s diocese was located for their advice Luciani drafted the document that came out of the meeting of the two conferences and that was sent to the pope The text a private internal Church document has never been released But those who knew him have said that it expressed a great deal more openness than Humanae Vitae showed And yet when the encyclical came out shortly afterwards Luciani fully adhered to it and asked his people to do the same In his pastoral letter he said I must confess that I hoped in my heart even though I didn t let it out in writing that the very serious existing difficulties might be overcome and that the reply of the Teacher who speaks with a special charism and in the name of the Lord might coincide at least in part with the hopes raised in so many couples I know for certain that concern for these souls in pain and an ardent desire to bring them light and comfort were the only reasons for the notable delay in the coming of the Pope s answer Now he gives his judgment conscious that he is performing a duty and in a spirit of great faith He knows indeed that he is going to be the cause of bitterness in many people he knows that a different solution would probably have brought him more human applause but he puts his faith in God and in order to be faithful to His word he re proposes the traditional teaching of the Magisterium in this very delicate matter in all its purity What about the recent scientific discoveries The social evolution of our times The increasing need for responsible parenthood The need to harmonize this responsible parenthood with the demands of conjugal love All of these things are kept in mind but they do not postulate a new doctrine The doctrine that has always been taught presented in the new framework of positive and encouraging ideas on marriage and conjugal love better guarantee the true good of man and the family I am confident that I have everyone with me in a sincere adherence to the papal teaching and in this assurance I bless and greet you 4 Luciani continued to defend the Pope s teaching on many occasions throughout his time as Patriarch of Venice Nevertheless Yallop was convinced that Luciani still wanted a change in the Church s teaching on birth control and this along with the new Pope s desire for a poorer Church and his supposed stand against financial corruption in the Vatican is what attracted Yallop most to him Here as elsewhere in the book Yallop provides long descriptions of reconstructed conversations that the Pope was said to have had with his co workers in the Vatican but many of the details of these conversations are open to serious question In this case Yallop states that on September 19 after hearing that a U S Congressional delegation wanted to discuss birth control with him the Pope decided that this meeting was so important that he gave up the idea of going to the Latin American Bishops Conference in Puebla in October but instead asked Villot to set up an October meeting with the congressional delegation in Rome Yallop claims that this decision of the Pope may have convinced Villot to help murder him 5 The truth however is that the announcement that the Pope had decided not to go to Puebla had already been made by the Vatican and published in newspapers all over the world more than two weeks earlier on September 2 6 Consequently the Pope could hardly have still been planning to go to Puebla on September 19 Also it is hardly likely that even if John Paul did decide to make a change in the Church s doctrine on birth control he would reveal it to U S Congressmen before he discussed it with moral theologians or his fellow bishops This is particularly true of someone who valued episcopal collegiality as Luciani had always done The very unlikeliness of all these details and the ignorance they betray of the way the Church functions indicates that they are largely the product of imagination Apart from this fantasy what can actually be said about the subject We can go to the eyewitnesses Father Lorenzi who certainly would have known denies that the Pope had yet even spoken to Villot about the subject of birth control 7 The person who knows perhaps the most about Luciani s feelings on the subject is his secretary in Venice Mario Senigaglia When I asked him what he thought Luciani might have done about birth control as Pope he told me He would have carried on the discussion He had studied a great deal about the subject But he added The line he would have taken as Pope can t be determined from the line he took as a bishop The line he took in Belluno was different from the line he took in Vittorio Veneto and the line he took in Vittorio Veneto was different from the one he took in Venice The same with any Pope Pope John we thought he was a nice little old man and that he would be a transitional Pope Instead he turned the world upside down The same with Wojtyla whom I also knew He is different now than when I knew him as a bishop I am sure that as Pope Luciani would have learned about Paul VI s documentation on Humanae Vitae and that he would have found the scientific and pastoral motives for his decision Maybe it could have convinced him that Pope Paul was right I do know that he suffered over the drama of couples in difficult situations Do you think he would have been in a hurry to make a decision on birth control I asked No It wasn t his style He was very prudent he knew how to listen to people Some decisions in Venice he made only after eight and a half years there 8 In fact it is certain that Luciani was always sensitive to all ramifications of every problem and especially that of birth control He had seen the availability of birth control lead to an abortion mentality including the legalization of abortion in Italy to an increase in sexual immorality outside of marriage and other evils as well Whatever he had to say about birth control as Pope would certainly have been influenced by these considerations But above all he would have been obedient to whatever he had determined was the real teaching of Christ The question of how John Paul I might have handled the difficult pastoral problems connected with the Church s teachings on birth control as Pope is certainly a legitimate one but it deserves a much more serious treatment than Yallop gives it And he utterly fails to prove that such a change was imminent Villot in Charge of a Coverup But the evidence against Villot that Yallop believes most important is his claim that the Cardinal lied about the circumstances of the Pope s death obviously in order to cover up his murder He says Villot lied about what time the Pope s body was discovered who discovered it and most importantly what he was reading at the time of his death Once again Yallop obtained all his information directly from the sources behind the ANSA story Yet there is no evidence whatsoever that these people were eyewitnesses to any of the events they claimed to be describing It cannot be proved that even one of them was anywhere near the Pope s bedroom on the morning of September 29 1978 There is a possibility that they may have known some Curial monsignors even a Curial cardinal who sympathized with their views and were able to pick up rumors from them But that would have provided them with only a very remote link with the actual events For the most part Yallop s sources simply seized on the few confused or contradictory details contained in the Vatican statements and news stories about the Pope s death and embroidered on them in order to spread their insinuations about the evil cardinals in the Curia Most important of all their story contradicts that of the eyewitnesses to the scene at a number of points John Magee who was the Pope s secretary at the time has stated that Sister Vincenza discovered the Pope s body and then ran to wake him up at 5 25 9 Father Lorenzi had stated long before Yallop s book appeared that he was awakened at 5 45 shortly after the Pope s body was discovered 10 Sister Vincenza herself stated that she discovered shortly before 5 00 that the Pope had not drunk his morning coffee placed outside his door and yet it was some time after that before she entered his room 11 But Yallop says nothing of this although he claims to have interviewed both the secretaries and the nun Instead he stands by his sources version that the Pope s body was discovered an hour earlier Upholding his own version Father Lorenzi told me I was there Yallop wasn t 12 Yallop regards the time that the Pope s body was discovered as especially important He believes that the actual discovery took place shortly after 4 30 a m not at the time announced by the Vatican which was about 5 30 During this hour he says Cardinal Villot concocted the details of the cover up of the Pope s murder But Yallop s version is not only contradicted by all the eyewitnesses it is also illogical The Pope s co workers in Venice had stated for the press at the time of his election that he habitually got up around 5 a m According to Father Lorenzi he usually rose between 4 30 and 5 00 in the Vatican If the Pope s alarm was set for 4 45 or even granting that Yallop is correct 4 30 why would Vincenza have become concerned over his failure to appear and gone into his bedroom at or even before the time his alarm was due to ring Shouldn t she have at least allowed him some time to get up before deciding he was late The Signoracci brothers who embalmed the Pope told Yallop that they do not remember exactly when they were summoned on the morning of September 29 Yet Yallop ignores this and insists that they were brought to the Vatican at 5 00 a m a half hour before the Pope s body was officially found This is also inconsistent with the statement of Father Lorenzi who Yallop quotes saying that the embalmers did not arrive until 11 00 a m As for what the Pope was reading at the time of his death Lorenzi who was among the first in the Pope s bedroom that morning had indeed stated publicly on September 30 that John Paul was holding some papers in his hand when his body was discovered But Lorenzi denies that they were a list of changes in the Curia He told me emphatically He would not have had any list of cardinals in his hands He says that they were John Paul s own personal notes sermons articles and so on and that he was trying to get ideas from his old writings for his next Sunday Angelus sermon because that was coming up very quickly 13 Magee has also very clearly said that the Pope was holding some pages from a homily 14 Villot another eyewitness said they were pages from a discourse as I described in Part II above Yet Yallop does not quote their description of these papers Once again he believes that his sources who were not present somehow infallibly knew what was in the Pope s hands It is difficult to believe that Yallop did not ask the eyewitnesses what time the Pope s body was discovered what he was holding in his hands and so on If he did why didn t he publish their answers Yallop states several times that Magee Lorenzi and Vincenza gave him the facts in his interviews with them And yet by maintaining silence on every point where their accounts differ from that of his sources he leads his readers to believe these eyewitnesses are in agreement with his version of events while in fact they contradict it on almost every point Yallop later claimed that the Pope s family and secretaries told him the truth and then later changed their stories at the Vatican s insistence but this is patently ridiculous for this claim see part VII If they had really told him the truth and it agreed with his theories he would given their statements as supporting evidence in his book but he remained silent on their take on the controversial points until it was later made public which is very good evidence in itself that they had told him nothing that he found useful to support his theories to begin with Even if there were reason to believe that the members of the papal household lied and that their testimony should be rejected and I have not found the slightest reason to believe this there would still be no reason to regard sources whose names are not given and who may be totally dependent on hearsay as the only source of the truth about Pope John Paul s death The story that these sources gave to ANSA and later to Yallop did contain one correct unpublished detail which could have been obtained from someone working inside the Vatican that Sister Vincenza was the first person in the Pope s bedroom that morning but that is almost the only true statement in it By ignoring the eyewitness accounts Yallop not only misrepresents the statements of the Pope s co workers but also seriously misleads his readers Yallop claims that Cardinal Villot invented the story about the Imitation of Christ in order to cover up the fact that the Pope had his list of proposed changes in his hands As I have already pointed out this story originated not with Villot but with speculation was broadcast by all the news sources not just Vatican Radio At any rate it could scarcely have been invented to cover up what the Pope had in his hands when he died since it did not refer to what was in his hands but rather to a book open on the covers beside him The only statement that can possibly be connected to Cardinal Villot is the original Vatican press release which did not say what the Pope had been reading Yallop portrays the relationship between John Paul and Cardinal Villot as a cold and reserved one This may have been the view of Yallop s traditionalist sources who hated Villot but it is contradicted by the rest of the witnesses including some of the people Yallop himself interviewed who were in a position to know and who state that Villot admired the new Pope Mgr Ausilio Da Rif of Belluno a friend of John Paul I whose statements Yallop uses pointed this out to me with some indignation 15 In short the story that Villot covered up the murder of John Paul I is about as probable as the story that Villot substituted a double for Paul VI In addition those who knew Pope John Pau I most intimately completely reject Yallop s theory that he was planning any sweeping changes in the Curia Father Lorenzi who as the Pope s secretary in the Vatican was in a better position to know than anyone else said to me In 1973 Pope Paul had appointed well informed and competent cardinals to high posts Did Luciani have any reason to put them aside Luciani was intelligent and had keen insight into men and events But the virtue of prudence always kept him good company He had to rely on people who were experienced in different fields and who had been serving and helping Paul VI for a number of years 16 Mgr Senigaglia agrees The person described by Yallop is the opposite of Luciani he said He wouldn t have moved people from the Curia

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  • Was Pope John Paul I Murdered? Part V | On Pilgrimage
    not to have an autopsy was made in order to cover up a murder The True Cause of the Pope s Death There is one final question What was the real cause of the Pope s death Yallop claims that the lack of an autopsy is suspicious and that John Paul I who was he claims in excellent health and had never suffered from heart trouble could hardly have died of a heart attack as the Vatican said According to the statement released by the Vatican Dr Buzzonetti said that the Pope s sudden death could be related to acute myocardial infarction 2 As I indicated above the doctors were uncertain about the cause of death and wanted clarification Dr Buzzonetti s original opinion was evidently just a rough guess that would have required an autopsy to clarify In reaching his first opinion he relied primarily on the age of the victim the external appearance of the body and the suddenness of death According to later interviews by Lorenzi and Magee with John Cornwell and others they did state that the Pope had chest pains the night before but never told the doctor about this I will talk about these when I discuss Cornwell s book There is an element of doubt obvious in Buzzonetti s diagnosis which is natural since he made it from external evidence only and without having any exact knowledge of the Pope s previous medical history It is true that Pope John Paul had never shown any cardiopathic symptoms in the medical tests carried out at various times during his life and his low blood pressure made the development of coronary heart disease unlikely Perhaps it is true that to someone who was acquainted with Albino Luciani s medical history a diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction would not have been immediately apparent But Dr Buzzonetti did not have this knowledge Yallop did an investigation into the Pope s medical history and trumpets the fact that he had no heart trouble as evidence for murder He ignored the fact that there are a number of other causes of sudden death including some that John Paul I was susceptible to Yallop was also either ignorant of or kept from his readers many of the details of Luciani s medical history Now let s turn to those details and those possible causes of death Yallop failed to mention the fact that Luciani suffered from hardening of the arteries or arteriosclerosis a contributing factor in heart attacks and strokes In January 1978 Luciani had told a priest in Venice that arteriosclerosis had been causing his difficulties with his vision and that he thought it would mean a quick old age for him 3 While arteriosclerosis is most common in those with high blood pressure it is by no means confined to these people Yallop claims that Luciani s low blood pressure lessened his chances of a heart attack Perhaps this is true but as Dr Baima Ballome explains his low blood pressure might mean that he was inclined to collapse and thrombosis 4 That is he may have been particularly subject to the formulation of a thrombus or blood clot which can block a blood vessel causing what is known as an embolism It is an embolism which usually causes myocardial infarction which is the blockage of a blood vessel in the heart One form of stroke a cerebral embolism is caused by a clot blocking the arteries in the brain and a pulmonary embolism is a clot which blocks the pulmonary artery leading to the lungs Both of these types of embolisms rank with myocardial infarction among the leading causes of sudden death Luciani did suffer from such an embolism in a blood vessel in his eye in 1975 According to Dr Rama who treated him for it it may have been that sign of a vascular problem that could have caused his death After explaining this to Yallop Rama told him I was very surprised that they did not ask me to come and examine the Pope s body 5 It is amazing that after hearing from the Pope s doctor that he had such a condition and publishing the information in his book Yallop still thought that a death due to natural causes was unlikely Msgr Senigaglia who was Luciani s secretary from 1970 76 in Venice and in fact had known him since 1964 when he was bishop of Vittorio Veneto told me that the embolism he suffered at that time was probably linked to circulatory problems although nothing showed up on the medical tests that were performed afterwards in Venice to show the exact cause He explained that some years before while bishop of Vittorio Veneto Luciani had experienced rheumatic back pains of the type that are often linked to circulatory disturbances and in fact he had worn a body corset for a time because of them This is another thing that Yallop neglects to mention in spite of his frequent boast that he is the only author to have Luciani s compete medical history Senigaglia also said that for a long time after coming to Venice Luciani had not suffered from these disturbances but that he began experiencing them again in 1978 including some circulatory disturbances in his legs 6 Then in the spring at a meeting of the bishops of the Triveneto he told his friend Archbishop Gottardi of Trent that he had been having some chest pains He said he didn t know whether the pain had to do with heart trouble or his respiratory problems which dated back to an episode of severe viral pneumonia he had gone through as a young priest 7 It was these various pains including swollen ankles and knees that prompted Luciani to spend some time at the Stella Maris Institute on the Lido a seaside resort in Venice at the end of July and beginning of August 1978 less than a month before was

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  • Was Pope John Paul I Murdered? Part VI | On Pilgrimage
    is not known However I think it can be traced to Vaticanist Giancarlo Zizola s diary of those days excerpts from which he later published which has in the entry for September 30 1978 The notes that Luciani was holding in his hands at his death were according to Don Germano Pattaro notes about the two hour conversation the Pope had with the Secretary of State Villot the night before This evidence isn t of the best for while Don Germano Pattaro was or had been in Rome and had met with the new Pope several times there s no evidence that he spoke to him on the evening of his death nor has anyone placed him at the Pope s bedroom when his body was discovered So how did Fr Pattaro not an eyewitness know what the Pope had in his hands Once again clear statements by the eyewitnesses say something completely different Furthermore there is to my knowledge only one place where Pattaro spoke of his meetings with John Paul I and that was to Venetian author Camillo Bassotto who reprinted an account of those conversations in his book Il mio cuore è ancora a Venezia Venice Adriatica 1990 an account that extends over more than twenty five pages Nowhere in those twenty five pages is there any discussion of a meeting with Villot dismissing Marcinkus from the Vatican Bank getting rid of Freemasons or dramatic changes in the Curia It also seems clear from this that John Paul I did not meet with Pattaro on the evening of his death so he could have learned about the meeting with Villot secondhand 2 I suspect that Zizola was just recounting a rumor or even speculation by Pattaro himself but once again rumor and speculation aren t evidence Camilo sic Bassotto is also on record as having discussed with Luciani the various changes he was proposing to make 3 This is another example of Yallop s carelessness about details he is wrong about Bassotto himself having had any discussion with the Pope on this subject It was actually an anonymous person in Rome who some people think was a highly placed prelate in the Curia who sent Bassotto his notes of his discussions with Pope John Paul I in May 1989 and which once again were published in his book about the Pope 4 There have been attempts to identify this person none conclusive 5 Once again Yallop ends up using an anonymous source though at least the actual text of this one is available I myself have some problems with the credibility with this part of Bassotto s work Once again there are some twenty pages of lengthy reconstructed conversation it s not clear if any written notes were taken And if the person in question really was a friend of and close to John Paul I and specifically wanted to defend the late Pope as he claims why did he not allow his name to be published Yet the tone of the remarks and many of the details are far more consonant with Albino Luciani s character than anything that Yallop puts forward The great majority of this text is spiritual in tone and in it the Pope supposedly discusses his plans for encyclicals his upcoming travels etc This account does in fact describe a discussion between the Pope and Villot about the Vatican Bank However the details don t agree at all with those of Yallop s sources The discussions supposedly took place about three weeks into his pontificate roughly September 16 17 and not the night before his death when Yallop says notification of these changes was given to Villot The Pope is recorded as saying to his confidant One afternoon before leaving me Villot spoke to me about the IOR saying to me the IOR is a hot potato which is sizzling in everyone s hands Some people may end up burning themselves I answered that the Church must be transparent in money matters it must work in the light of day Its credibility is at stake I am also telling this to you 6 the Church cannot have power nor must it possess riches I know that the Institute for Religious Works was established in its present form by Paul VI in order to aid assist and promote the works of religion and charity throughout the world I want it to be the bishops and cardinals through their representatives who decide what to do about the IOR whether to maintain it or suppress it and what new structure to give it I ask that its actions all be licit and clean and in harmony with the Gospel spirit The world must know what it is what the IOR does what are its real ends how the money is gathered and how it is spent We must achieve transparency in the Vatican economic account books we must publish the balances audited in their entirety The president of the IOR i e Marcinkus must be replaced as soon as you think the time is right It must be done in the proper way and with respect for the dignity of the person A bishop cannot be chairman of and govern a bank The See that is called the See of Peter the See which is also called the Holy See cannot degrade itself to the point that it mingles its financial activities with those of bankers for whom the only law which holds good is profit and where usury is practiced a kind that is permitted and accepted but it is still usury We have lost the sense of evangelical poverty we have made ours the rules of the world I have already suffered bitterness and insults as a bishop because of events connected with money I don t want it to be repeated when I am Pope The IOR must be completely reformed Don t forget that Masonry hidden or open as the experts call it has never died it is more alive than ever Just as that horrible thing called the Mafia has never died They are two powers for evil We must courageously set ourselves against their perverse actions We must be vigilant everyone lay people priests and especially pastors and bishops We must protect the people of our communities It is a subject that we will one day deal with more clearly in front of everyone 7 So this anonymous person not only has Villot in agreement with the Pope that something had to be done about the IOR but actually being the first to broach the subject with him in addition he has the Pope saying that Marcinkus should be removed as soon you Villot think the time is right in other words no order by the Pope for an immediate removal of Marcinkus it is left up to Villot s discretion Nor was the date given the last day of his life Nowhere does the Pope speak of any wrongdoing on Marcinkus part The reason is simply that a bishop should not run a bank The allusions to Masonry and the Mafia evidently refer to Gelli Calvi and Sindona However this source has nothing about the long list of removals of Masons in the Curia that Yallop s anonymous sources suggested to him There is no evidence here that Villot objected to these changes or John Paul distrusted him because he was a Mason In fact the source took pains to collect information from others in the Vatican who had spoken to Villot and who were able to confirm the admiration Villot had for the Pope and the close relationship between the two In other words more evidence that Villot could not have been involved in any conspiracy to kill the Pope and his involvement as I mentioned in Part IV would be crucial if such a plan were to succeed All in all not very good evidence for any of Yallop s theories Yallop does not quote a single word from this source yet brazenly contrives to make it support his theories when it does nothing of the kind This source does mention some changes that the Pope was planning to make in the Curia but they did not have to do with getting rid of Freemasons but simplifying the structures of the Church bureaucracy and making it possible for the Pope to delegate some of the work to others 8 Yallop goes on to say Then there were others Men such as Archbishop Giuseppe Caprio who had taken a leading role in the investigation ordered by the late Pope or Monsignor Giovanni Angelo Abbo the man chosen by the pope to replace Marcinkus or Cardinal Ugo Poletti the man the Pope planned to place in charge of the Florence archdiocese 9 Yallop says that the authors of the Vatican memorandum about his book released in 1984 could have gained information from these men about the Pope s plans He himself conveniently comes out with their names after they are dead and cannot contradict him Msgr Abbo the secretary to the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See died in 1985 Cardinal Poletti in 1997 and Cardinal Caprio in 2005 Once again Yallop gives no documentation of how he learned what these prelates supposedly knew But finally we come to Yallop s triumphantly displayed smoking gun He describes it as the crucial dossier that the late Pope was studying shortly before his death If there was ever within this entire affair a smoking gun it is the Vagnozzi dossier He goes on As of September 1978 Cardinal Egidio Vagnozzi knew more about the inner workings of Vatican finances than anyone else in or out of the Vatican From 1967 he had been in control of the Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See His role was comparable to that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the United Kingdom or the Auditor General in the United States Vagnozzi had intimate knowledge of the Sindona and Calvi relationships with the Vatican and their various dealings with the Holy See As recorded earlier in this book in 1968 69 Vagnozzi was still struggling to prise out many of the Vatican s financial secrets that lay buried but long before Pope John Paul I was elected he had the answers When Albino Luciani sought an urgent investigation the information that Vagnozzi had acquired over a decade ensured that a highly detailed dossier was soon in the pope s hands Immediately after the discovery of the Pope s body the Vagnozzi report along with the papers covering the various changes were removed by Cardinal Villot whose deputy Caprio was most certainly aware of the contents of that report An indication of just how explosive the contents were can be gauged by the fact that Roberto Calvi subsequently became aware of the Vagnozzi report and its contents and after being offered a copy by a Vatican contact for three million dollars haggled the price down to one point two million dollars then kept the copy close to himself for the rest of his life 10 Yallop has apparently dropped his original contention that the Pope was holding a list of Masonic cardinals who were to be replaced and replaced it with the notes about his conversation with Villot and the Vagnozzi dossier Once again he provides absolutely no documentation especially for the part about Calvi Given Yallop s habitual lack of accuracy not to mention his penchant for sheer fantasy an intelligent reader might wonder what if anything can be believed of all this For all that Yallop trumpets Vagnozzi s importance in the Postscript he apparently merited only a couple of brief mentions within the actual text of his book even in the same new edition that contains this postscript Both of these mentions detailed Vagnozzi s work drawing up a balance sheet for the various departments of the Vatican for the Prefecture He evidently had difficulty doing so Through the juxtaposition of these ideas in the Postscript the reader is lead to believe that the secrets that Vagnozzi was unearthing referred to Sindona and Calvi in the book itself they refer only to getting the departments to release the actual total on their balance sheets In reality the Vatican Bank was not under the authority or jurisdiction of the Prefecture In Yallop s book itself there is nothing detailing Vagnozzi s supposed intimate knowledge of the relations between Marcinkus and Sindona 11 Here is what appear to be the real facts behind this from documented source First there is an account by long time Vatican analyst Benny Lai who had close ties to a number of Curial cardinals As head of the Prefecture for Economic affairs Vagnozzi had for some years been coordinating the economic administrations of the various departments under his control and putting together an annual balance based on income and expenditures He had written his first report on this for Pope Paul VI in 1969 more or less consonant with the facts and date Yallop mentions But it was nothing more than a balance sheet concerned exclusively with the various departments of the Vatican under the Prefecture which did not include the Vatican Bank During the pre conclave period in August 1978 Vagnozzi had written at the request of Cardinal Villot a report or balance sheet of income and expenditures to inform the cardinals meeting in the General Congregations about the general financial state of the Holy See This was the first time that information like this had been shared with the majority of the Sacred College Most of the cardinals would not even have known if the Vatican was solvent or not or what its operating budget was Villot had instructed Vagnozzi nevertheless to not dwell on the value of the Vatican s stock portfolio real estate holdings and gold reserves The African cardinals he said would not understand these things and would draw from them who knows what conclusions Someone who actually was known to have been collecting information on the Vatican Bank Marcinkus and his relationship with Calvi and Sindona was Cardinal Pietro Palazzini who was a member of the Curia but not directly a part of the financial administration During the General Congregations Palazzini challenged the parameters of the report Villot had asked for and asked why the Vatican Bank was not under the Administration of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs and presumably also why its affairs could not be reported on to the cardinals Cardinal Villot had at first dismissed his request In all probability he didn t consider discussion of a lightning rod issue like the controversial Vatican Bank appropriate at a moment when all the cardinals needed to work for unity in electing a new Pope But Palazzini pressed his case and a commission of cardinals was selected to look into the matter they eventually reported that the IOR was not under the administration of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs 12 Palazzini s request was going to have to wait until later No doubt he would have been eager to take up the matter with the new Pope And Cardinal Luciani who regularly attended the pre conclave General Congregations would have been sitting in on these discussions But whether Palazzini or Vagnozzi ever spoke to John Paul I about his information either before or after his election has never been made clear and certainly not by Yallop Nor does it seem that at the time of John Paul I s election either Palazini or Vagnozzi knew much about the IOR s relationship with Sindona or Calvi they were simply trying to find information I think that Yallop s source for his information about Vagnozzi was ultimately the story told by Francesco Pazienza an associate of Roberto Calvi who later went to prison for his part in the Banco Ambrosiano affair In his memoirs titled Il Disubbediente published from prison Pazienza said that he in 1981 he was asked to do some work for a faction in the Vatican that wanted to oust Marcinkus Pazienza was asked to dig up dirt on him Pazienza went to a rather dubious contact of his own a man named Giorgio Di Nunzio who moved in P2 circles and who peddled Vatican gossip to the right wing magazine Il Borghese Di Nunzio claimed to be in possession of a dossier on Marcinkus and Sindona drawn up by Cardinal Vagnozzi who had died the previous year 1980 before he had any chance to use the information himself The dossier resided in a strongbox in a Swiss bank Instead of taking this information to the Vatican Pazienza sold it to Calvi to the tune of 1 2 million dollars He also claimed that he later used the fact that he knew of this dossier and had kept it out of the Vatican s hands to get into Marcinkus good graces If this dossier genuinely contained any dirt about Marcinkus and Sindona it would have been ideal fodder for Calvi who was looking for every possible way to blackmail Marcinkus and the Vatican bank into continuing to participate in his schemes Pazienza a convicted criminal who has changed his story a number of times is a dubious source of information at best This account in Pazienza s memoirs was repeated by Philip Willan in his 2007 book The Last Supper The Mafia the Masons and the Killing of Roberto Calvi Willan coincidently was Yallop s original researcher for In God s Name Neither Pazienza s memoir nor the account in Willan s book however make the slightest mention of Pope John I ever having seen this dossier In fact Willan on the whole seems to have distanced himself somewhat from Yallop s conclusions about the Pope s death 13 However at least one statement Yallop reported can be connected with Vagnozzi Shortly after John Paul

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  • Was Pope John Paul I Murdered? Part VII | On Pilgrimage
    researchers had interviewed underwent remarkable transformations This phenomenon occurred on both sides of the Tiber Albino Luciani was in fact in excellent health at the time of his sudden death and his ankles were not swollen 6 Yallop has previously made similar allegations He was interviewed by John Cornwell for his book A Thief in the Night which appeared in 1989 When Cornwell confronted Yallop with the fact that some of his interviewees were saying that things took place differently than Yallop had claimed and that he had attributed to them things they had not said Yallop said but of course they re all going to be got at they re all going to say that black is white now 7 He presumably meant that the Vatican had got at them But he doesn t say how he knows this Yallop did nothing to prove his own case however Cornwell was apparently not allowed to see any of the tapes or transcripts of Yallop s interviews The truth is that the Pope s family all stress that he died a natural death and have done so since the beginning Contrary to Yallop s insinuations some family members mentioned the various relatives who had died suddenly and this was in interviews given immediately after his death In one of these interviews Agnes Lacotte a relative of the Luciani family who lived in Dordogne near Paris spoke of those relatives who had died suddenly including John Paul I s aunt she believed they had died of heart attacks 8 Other close family members have maintained that the Pope did not die of a heart attack but they certainly believe his death was natural His niece Amalia Luciani who was an obstetrical nurse in Trieste said in an interview immediately after his death Almost none of us believe that it was a myocardial infarction that killed my uncle He was never cardiopathic he never showed disturbances of that kind I think his death was due above all to a collapse She also noted that hypotension or low blood pressure which can lead to circulatory collapse ran in the Luciani family 9 Yallop also alludes to statements the Pope s family made after the release of his book in 1984 in regard to the close relatives who died suddenly He contrasts this to a statement by Edoardo Luciani immediately after the Pope s death in it he said his brother had no heart trouble Yallop neglects to add that it was Edoardo who gave the interview to Gente in 1985 in which he said that the three relatives had died suddenly see part IV It s no clear if Yallop meant to include the Pope s brother among those who changed their stories If so it should be pointed out that Yallop s investigator never interviewed Edoardo so he could never have told Yallop something different than he told the press in 1985 10 Yallop also spends considerable time trying to prove the Pope s ankles weren t swollen against all the evidence Fellow Papal secretary Father John Magee was yet another whose memory post publication of In God s Name and more than six years after had improved greatly Interviewed on my behalf by researcher Phillip Willan he had observed on the last evening he was perfectly fit During his papacy this business of leg swelling did not occur To John Cornwell Father Magee said they were terribly swollen 11 However Yallop leaves out something crucial in that ellipsis right before they were terribly swollen What Cornwell s text says in full is He would walk around the roof garden for around two hours because he thought the exercise helped his ankles One day he showed them to me They were terribly swollen 12 Is it possible that all that Magee was saying in the first interview is that the Pope s ankles were swollen but that his legs were not Later on as further evidence that the Pope was not ill Yallop quotes an interview given by Dr Da Ros in 2003 For all of Yallop s trumpeting that the Pope did not have swollen ankles Dr Da Ros does mention them He called it a slight swelling up which had also to do with the fact that life in the Vatican was much more sedentary than in Venice 13 That the Pope s whole legs were swollen was clearly a rumor rampant in the Vatican and it is probably what Magee was refuting Many of the people Cornwell quotes in this regard who say the Pope s whole legs were swollen were those who were repeating rumors and who weren t in the papal apartments The sources most likely to know all speak only of the ankles including the official Vatican memorandum the the Pope s doctor and Fr Magee Even though Edoardo Luciani and the majority of the family members say that John Paul didn t die of a heart attack a conclusion that Yallop produces triumphantly it s of little help to his case for there are a number of other causes of sudden death There are in fact plenty of statements on record that were made by people immediately after the Pope s death and long before Yallop began his research that confirm his health troubles specifically those in the weeks and months leading up to his death See for example part IV of this series for statement of Bishop Gottardi made the day after John Paul I s body was discovered disclosing the chest pains he was having in the spring of 1978 Lastly Yallop also quotes the interview with Dr da Ros who says that Pope had not been to the Stella Maris Institute for medical treatment in August 1978 but only to rest No he had gone to spend seven days on holiday To be able to read to walk and to rest 14 This is a particularly important point because it deals with the

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  • More Tragic than Murder? A Thief in the Night (Part I) | On Pilgrimage
    published two novels In his book he said that while he was visiting the Vatican in the fall of 1987 to get some information about the Vatican s views on the apparitions at Medjugorie and other supernatural phenomena Archbishop John Foley President of the Vatican Commission for Social Communications had urged him to his surprise to write a book about the death of John Paul I a subject he originally not been intending to pursue Foley he says wanted a book that would tell the Vatican s side of the story and dispel the rumors of murder fueled by Yallop s book He promised the British author that he could open up the Vatican to him After some hesitation Cornwell says he agreed Though Cornwell a former seminarian had since left the practice of the Catholic faith he felt that he could be objective on the matter 5 The Vatican tells the story differently Archbishop Foley denied that he promised to open up the Vatican and a journalist who knew Foley said he believed the prelate and found the statements attributed to him in Cornwell s book not very credible 6 Other reports indicate that the Vatican only agreed to cooperate with Cornwell on the book after it had received a letter from England s Cardinal Basil Hume vouching for his integrity 7 This suggests that it was Cornwell who approached the Vatican not the other way around Like Yallop Cornwell enjoyed great success and notoriety with this book His subsequent sensationalistic works on the papacy including Hitler s Pope which have sold well demonstrate that he has clearly learned where his bread and butter lie though his honesty and scholarship have frequently been questioned In spite of his reputation A Thief in the Night has been seen by some as the definitive work on Pope John Paul I s death But is it Cornwell s Theory Cornwell rejects the murder theory but believes that John Paul I was faced with a job beyond his capabilities as Pope He really had the mentality of a simple country priest As a bishop and cardinal he had been sheltered from political conflict and had no time for theological dispute 8 Cornwell says that John Paul found himself lost when trying to cope with important Church problems He told others in the papal apartment that he shouldn t be Pope and that he was begging God to allow him to die At the same time Cornwell says he was mortally ill and no one in the Vatican showed a proper interest in his medical care Cornwell believes that John Paul was suffering from phlebitis in his legs a dangerous condition that can lead to an embolism or blood clot in the lungs but neglected to take necessary medication Though he experienced severe pain in his chest on September 28 1978 he forbade his secretaries to summon a doctor As a result he suffered from a massive embolism while alone in his room that night and died within moments In the end the Pope no longer wanting to live had hastened his own end Cornwell asks What is the dividing line between giving up suicide by deliberate neglect and resignation or abandonment in a religious sense There is no evidence that Pope John Paul abandoned himself to despair but he was ready to die and there was not only a sense of ripeness but a strong desire It took only his refusal to see a doctor and the heedlessness of others to assure him the end he so devoutly wished for 9 Is there any truth in all this Whatever criticisms I have about the book in other regards I will say that one thing Cornwell actually did do well was to prove the sheer ridiculousness of the murder plot theory put forward by Yallop The few clear facts he documents demolishes that theory and Yallop s claims of a deliberate cover up by the Vatican He even defends Marcinkus Particularly helpful in this regard is his inclusion in an appendix of the 1987 article in the Wall Street Journal detailing the charges against Marcinkus and the point by point refutation by the lawyers for the Vatican Bank Of course once the murder theory was done away with Cornwell still had to justify his work for the modern book market by coming up with something sensational He ended up putting forward a real character assassination of the late John Paul I who was in no way the insecure whiny character hopeless in despair and the near suicide that Cornwell makes him out to be Cornwell s book is filled with distortions As an investigative reporter he perhaps can t be faulted for not being a rigorous historian But even as a journalist he is unforgivably sloppy and also suspiciously casual about the truth As a preliminary to further discussion I will list these major failings 1 A lack of in depth research Cornwell s actual summing up of the pre papal career of Albino Luciani which takes up at most 2 or 3 pages is very superficial and at times completely inaccurate What Cornwell needed to do and clearly didn t have the capacity to do is to really investigate the Pope s earlier life study his writings and talk to people who knew him and who could discuss his theological and pastoral approach as a bishop and a cardinal in depth If he had done so he would have reached a very different conclusion about the Albino Luciani s qualifications to be Pope In addition if Cornwell really wanted to know what John Paul I did and thought as Pope why not turn to the actual texts of his few talks and writings during his short papacy which have been available from the beginning in English For a former seminarian Cornwell seems strangely uninterested in what the Pope thought theologically Maybe he no longer has a taste for such things but he should

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