Murder In The Vatican (Part 2)
Continuation of Part 1 - - - Professor John Pollard does not think so. To be convinced that it was a Kremlin KGB plot, thanks in part to Pope John Paul II and the power of the Vatican, the Soviet Union and the states that depended on it collapsed in 1989. But at the same time as it was playing a part in liberating millions, was it also engaged in murder?
In the early 1980s, one name was synonymous with corporate corruption on a global scale. Roberto Calvi. As one of Italy's top bankers, it's claimed he was profiting from vast sums of money laundered by the Mafia and the Vatican. A plot that some say lead to his death in London, and a murder enquiry which is still open today.
Calvi was nicknamed God's Banker because his bank was backed by the Vatican. But could the Vatican be behind his murder and one of the biggest banking frauds of the 20th century? At 7:30 on a Friday morning in June, a commuter crossing London's Blackfriars Bridge made a grim discovery. Days before, Italy's biggest private bank, the Banco Ambrosiano, had declared a £1.5 billion gap in its funds. And its head, Robert Calvi, was facing a jail sentence for illegally funneling £30 million out of Italy. Suicide seemed a logical conclusion, but not everyone agreed.
Chief among the doubters was Roberto Calvi's own son, who hired a private investigator, Jeff Katz, to look into his father's death. He was a 62-year-old man. He was not used to walking around odd bits of London. And to then, in the middle of the night, climb over a parapet, down a ladder, across to some scaffolding, Investigative author Gerald Posner believes Calvi's death was no accident... but the direct result of his close involvement with Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, the head of the Vatican's own bank. Boisterous, outgoing, Marcinkus was a charming man. Hailing from Al Capone's hometown of Cicero, Illinois, it's claimed Marcinkus had more in common with Al Capone than this. It's also claimed he had strong links to the Mafia. As the head of the Vatican Bank, Marcinkus was running the only unregulated bank in the world. It takes money in and then it invests that money, makes money on it and keeps it all secret.
Perfect, many claims, for Marcinkus to hide Mafia money because it operated beyond the reach of the Italian or any other government. And the safest and easiest way to do is to get your money physically into the Vatican. You can drive a truck with £10 million in it. It'll go straight into the Vatican and once it does, it disappears. But there was a problem. Marcinkus may have been powerful within the Vatican, but he had zero experience of running a bank. Nothing more than the multiplication tables. And that's where many believe Roberto Calvi came in.
The theory is that Marcinkus needed experienced banker Calvi to siphon Mafia money from the Vatican Bank into a network of global companies, away from prying eyes. That money would then be clean of Mafia associations. Allegedly, the Mafia paid Marcinkus a fee to clean their money when it passed through the Vatican Bank and out to Calvi's global companies.
By 1978, Calvi's dealings had helped transform the Vatican Bank into a financial powerhouse, turning over hundreds of millions each year. But the Bank of Italy got wind of Calvi's illegal money transfers from the Banco Ambrosiano and began an investigation. Calvi's clearly desperate. It took investigators three years to unpick Calvi's global network. And in 1981, Calvi was given a suspended jail sentence of four years and fined £14 million for illegally exporting money from Italy. And Calvi was determined he wouldn't take sole responsibility. He frantically wrote a personal letter to Pope John Paul II, stating that the bank's collapse would... Provoke a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions, in which the Church will suffer the greatest damage. For some, this letter was seen as a threat, which the Vatican would not stand for. For others, a desperate plea for mercy, as they claim people connected with the case were being picked off and killed one by one by Mafia hitmen. Only days before he was due to go to prison, Calvi fled Italy under a false name. and you can go to London. We will protect you in London." In that moment he was really weaker than ever.
Many people believe if Calvi was running with the Mafia's help, he was sealing his own death warrant. He knew too much and needed to be silenced. Through investigation and eyewitness interviews, Jeff Katz discovered two days after his arrival in London, Calvi left his apartment with two Italians. Was taken down the river to what he probably thought was a rendezvous with people who were going to help him. Was strangled probably somewhere not far from Blackfriars Bridge... and then placed on the scaffolding.
If this was murder, not suicide, then why pick such a public place? This wasn't the Mafia's style. You're putting him under a bridge in London as though he's hanged himself. The claim is that the choice of Blackfriars Bridge was no accident as the Blackfriars are the nickname of Italy's most secretive Freemasons lodge and influential people in Italy.
In politics, in finance, in the police, Perhaps the final evidence of a conspiracy is that according to some, the biggest financial beneficiary of Calvi's death was said to be Archbishop Marcinkus's Vatican Bank and that it was wonderful for the Vatican Bank.
For years, the official line remained that Calvi committed suicide, but in 2003, the City of London Police re-opened the case as a murder enquiry. Twelve years later, no one has been convicted. And if, as some believe, the Vatican killed a Catholic banker, Is it also capable of murdering a pope?
On 26th August 1978, new pope John Paul I was elected to rule over half a billion Catholics. He was a darling man Albino Luciani was nicknamed "The Smiling Pope" and some believe he was determined to bring the church into the modern world. Especially when it came to the Vatican's greatest taboo, birth control.
Some claim, against 2,000 years of preaching, John Paul was prepared to look at the use of the Pill for birth control. But before he could make any changes, 33 days into his new role, he was found dead. Officially, it was said to be a heart attack, but there are many who claim he was murdered by his fellow priests, and that the Vatican got away with it.
Fifteen years before John Paul became pope, his predecessor Paul VI was known for his strong conservative views. As a Vatican historian and commentator, William Doino has studied his strong opposition to any form of birth control. Humanae Vitae, in which he declares and reaffirms that we cannot change the church teaching.
Historian and writer John Julius Norwich believes social changes from the 1960s and '70s were forcing the Church to consider more liberal views, which included electing Albino Luciani, the Smiling Pope. Norwich claims the new Pope's views were very different to the Vatican's traditions by half a million a day or something, and realized that this couldn't go on. But not only that. Children were dying at an alarming rate. Just after he became Pope... He said, "Look, we've been talking about contraception for the last 45 minutes.
Norwich believes Luciani's solution to this global crisis was to consider the new miracle birth control pill, which had recently become available worldwide. If the Pope wanted to bring birth control into the Catholic faith to prevent millions dying of hunger in an overpopulated world, many in the Church would see this as sacrilege.
But, according to John Julius Norwich, the Pope was determined. He made no secret of the fact. And he very quickly made a great many enemies. This is why so many people had a motive. How far were these enemies within the Vatican willing to go to stop the Pope?
Just 33 days into his papacy, Pope John Paul I was found dead in his bed. The Vatican said that he had suffered a heart attack. Norwich's theory is that within the secretive and closed-off environment of the Vatican, the Pope was killed quietly in his sleep. Somebody would have had to have crept up and entered his room in the middle of the night, at a considerable risk of waking him up...
For many who believe foul play, the chief suspect is Cardinal Villot, who was the only man who could cover up the evidence. There was a cardinal, Villot, who was the Cardinal Secretary of State. and what should have been done much more methodically and carefully were rushed and a lot of people blame Villot for this. He was the one who started telling all these lies. According to Norwich, this was the key piece of evidence and it had been removed without trace.
The claim by some of those who believe John Paul's death was not natural is that Vatican officials deliberately avoided contacting Luciani's own doctor. With no obvious cause of death, William Doino alleges there were calls from within the Vatican for an autopsy, as required by Italian law for all deaths of this nature. The Vatican is a city state within Rome, so it doesn't have to follow any laws other than its own. And that's exactly what it chose to do. Any physical evidence was supposedly destroyed when the Pope's body was embalmed within a day of his death. And for some, the Vatican's next assertions made it look even more guilty of a cover-up.
The Imitation of Christ
But as it turns out, there doesn't seem to be a shred of evidence for this. The Vatican claim the Pope's body had been found by his private secretary, Father McGee, while he was sitting in bed. In truth he was found by a nun. These inconsistencies convinced many that the Vatican were covering up a murder scene.
I think in the Vatican they're priests, but they're certainly not saints. But for William Doino, the Vatican's mistakes were never a cover for foul play.
We may never know the truth behind how Pope John Paul I died, whether God's Banker hung himself or if the Vatican gave safe haven to war criminals. But as long as the Vatican remains as secretive as it is today, there will always be conspiracy theories questioning what really happens in God's name.
- - - The End - - -
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