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New Information Emerges on Pope John Paul II

(as posted on dailykos.com)

Most news items this year about the financial corruption in the Vatican conclude with a reference to the early 1980s Vatican Bank scandal. This past week, though, an Italian journalist nonchalantly dropped a couple of bombs about this episode in Vatican history which were buried in his commentary on current events: Pope John Paul II was intentionally complicit with the criminals at the Vatican Bank, and suggested that the pope knew how his predecessor, Albino Luciani – Pope John Paul I – was murdered.

Giacomo Galeazzi writes for the “Vatican Insider,” a supplement of the Italian newspaper, La Stampa, with the presumption that his readers are already acquainted with the details of this period.

According to David Yallop – author of In God’s Name and still the seminal source about the corruption leading to the death of Pope John Paul I – on September 28, 1978, the pontiff informed his Secretary of State, Cardinal Jean Villot, that he was severing the ties between the IOR (the official acronym for the Vatican Bank) and Milan’s Banco Ambrosiano which had been laundering money to rightwing Latin American dictators and terrorists and defrauding investors. In addition, he was removing the members of the Curia associated with these criminal activities, including Villot.

The next morning, after only 33 days as pope, Luciani was found dead. Villot had all of his personal effects and papers quickly removed, including a bottle of medicine last seen on the nightstand. Villot first announced to the press that the pope died from an overdose of medicine; then he changed the cause of death to a heart attack. (Luciani’s personal physician and family stated he had no heart disease.) The body was embalmed within a day and no autopsy was performed. Yallop had only circumstantial evidence to substantiate his claim that Luciani’s medicine had been poisoned.

Luciani’s successor, Karol Wojtyla, had been an obscure bishop in an impoverished country but suddenly became a globetrotter in the 1970s appearing at Opus Dei centers throughout Europe and making several trips to the U.S. where he was introduced at Harvard as “the next pope.”  Martin A. Lee, in his Mother Jones article, “Their Will Be Done,” asserted there were several rightwing groups backed by the CIA which were “instrumental in the promoting and electing John Paul II.”

After Wojtyla became pope and was presented with evidence by prelates, the press and personal letters that the IOR was a criminal organization, he did nothing about either the bank’s activities or the crooks running it. Some surmised that Karol Wojtyla was groomed for, and became pope, in a Faustian bargain. In exchange for the defeat of communism in Poland to be supplanted by the Church’s hegemony, John Paul II would allow the plutocrats to maintain control of the IOR and appoint bishops, especially in the U.S., who would further their political agenda.

In his column dated June 29, 2012, Galeazzi questioned who would be in charge of Vatican finances after IOR president, Ettori Gotti Tedeschi, was unceremoniously dumped for trying to clean out the Augean stables. The reporter states:

The turbulence surrounding Vatican finances is a heavy burden and a legacy of Karol Wojtyla’s geopolitical papacy….In the Curia John Paul II had conceded unlimited freedom of action to controversial representatives of the financial community who were able to support him in his historic battle against communism….In exchange for their help in the fight against communism, they enjoyed extended moral “exemption”, that is complicity, conspiracy of silence and cover ups at the top of the Vatican pyramid, to protect them from the sex and corruption scandals they were involved in.

The next day, Galeazzi noted the animosity between Pope Benedict’s two right-hand men, Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, and pope whisperer, Msgr. Georg Gaenswein, and cautioned Ratzinger not to allow a division similar to that which existed between John Paul II’s personal retinue and the Curia.

According to Galeazzi, while Wojtyla was recuperating in the Vatican after his attempted assassination in 1981 by a Turkish gunman, his “Polish circle” feared he would be poisoned by someone with access to the papal apartment and had all his medications analyzed by a trusted pharmacist. Can it be a coincidence that of all the methods to commit murder, John Paul II and his men focused precisely on the method allegedly used to kill a pope less than three years earlier?

Pope John Paul II was portrayed as a superstar by the nascent mega-corporate-owned media made possible by deregulation during the Reagan administration, Wojtyla’s co-crusader in the battle against the Evil Empire.

Pope Benedict doesn’t get the same treatment as his predecessor. Not only is there an independent press holding the mainstream media more accountable, but public opinion has been shaped by knowledge of the Church’s global sex abuse of children. This bodes ill for the Religious Right’s foundational model and the Vatican’s proxies, the U.S. bishops.

(Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009))


10 Responses

  1. Great article, Betty–informative. And very scary. As point A connects to point B and the picture of what has gone on for years now in the Vatican emerges, it becomes downright scary.

  2. Yes, scary but not surprising. I am so glad that Betty put this all together in a way that is easily comprehended. Thank you.

  3. I keep waiting for some American, maybe Jason Berry, to start connecting the dots between Reagan’s CIA, Bush I @ II, and JPII”s papacy which was financially fueled by deals involving money laundering for the CIA, various rightwing dictators and the international drug cartels and arms smugglers. The Reagan Presidency has already been convicted in the Iran Contra affair, but I bet there are more skeletons in the that closet and some of those skeletons will have their fingers in the IOR.

    I have never forgotten how easy it was for Reagan to have JPII effectively silence Dutch Hunthausen. Nor have I forgotten just who it is that sits in the Cathedral chair in Washington DC. The USCCB is as corrupt as it gets, and so is their Vatican master.

    • Unfortunately, it’s difficult to impossible to obtain this type of information. The best sources I found were Penny Lernoux, “The People of God: The Struggle for World Catholicism” excerpt in the National Catholic Reporter April 28, 1989 and Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott, Jane Hunter “The Iran-Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era”. If you google these, the excerpts may still be available online. You can look at the endnotes in my book for Chapter 6 to find others. Betty

      • Penny Lernoux was awesome! And her exposes on RCC secret societies, their collaboration with Nazis and assorted dictators, and money laundering through the Vatican bank made her untimely death from agressive cancer very suspicious.

  4. My friend studied in Rome and knew pope John Paul the 1st personally. The pope did have a history of heart problems. There is no jouranlistic notes listing past heart desease. One needs to look into his medical history to acknoledge that perphas the pope did die of a heart attack.

    • And I have friends who had friends in the Vatican who say that Luciani’s murder is a generally accepted fact. If not, why was the body embalmed so quickly and all requests to exhume the body for further testing denied? Even if there were “heart problems,” which is debatable, doesn’t prove death from natural causes.

  5. David was asked by several cardinals to investigate the death.Even the populace in the streets yelled ,”Who did this to you Papa!”when his remains were carried out of the Vatican.
    On EWTN Arroyo ,whose office is in the Opus Dei owned Catholic Information Center, has featured former Republican politicians from the Reagan White House who have spoken proudly about Opus Dei connections working within the Administration and funneling monies to Poland’s Solidarity effort though the Vatican.

  6. Speaking of David Yallop, I would suggest that you also read his book The Power and The Glory:The Dark Heart of John Paul II’s Vatican.

    Altogether it reveals that JP II was not in any sense a Saint.
    Indeed he should be prosecuted for conspiring to pervert the course of Justice, not just in the Vatican and Italy, but all over the world. He was even the personal trustee of the billions of dollars deposited in the vatican by Ferdinand Marcos.

    Of course a related phenomenon is how JP II and Ratzinger engineered the takeover of the church by opus dei and similar right-wing patriarchal “traditionalists”.
    The process of how that was done, and the negative social and cultural consequences for both the “catholic” church, and by extension the entire world, are described in great detail in the book The Pope’s War by Matthew Fox.

    • John, if you want to know how JPII “engineered the takeover of the church” read my book, “The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America.”

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