by Desmond O'Grady in Rome ACCUSATIONS that the secret masonic lodge P2 (Propaganda 2) arranged the murder of Pope John Paul I have received less attention in the Italian press than a simultaneous leak from a magistrate's document which allegedly accused the Bulgarian secret service of involvement in the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II.
Nonetheless the book by David Yallop In God's Name has elicited the response from the Vatican Press Office that it was shocking and deplorable that anyone could so much as think let alone publish theories of this kind. "Those who know the facts and the individuals involved would regard such theories as absurd fantasies".
Fr Romeo Panciroli, director of the Vatican Press Office added "Let's be serious, at this rate any fantasy is given credence" and pointed out that the Vatican issued a medical bulletin after the sudden death of John Paul I in 1978.
Immediately after his death, the Italian satirical magazine Male published a cartoon which showed the deputy Secretary of State, Giovanni Benelli, poisoning the Pope but in Yallop's book BeneIli's opponents (the then Secretary of State, Jean Villot and head of the Vatican Bank, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus) are the clerical villains along with P-2.
But which P-2? There was an earlier lodge called Propaganda whose venerable master was Licio Gelli, a businessman who last year escaped from a Swiss prison before he could be extradited to Italy.
A list of over 900 names was discovered in his Arezzo they included ministers, under secretaries, key figures of the security services, journalists and other prominent figures. This caused the downfall of the government and threatens also to cause the downfall of the present coalition.
With P-2 nothing has been proved. Italian politicians have a vested interest in claiming it was a sinister organisatin, otherwise many of them will look gullible fools. It provides a field-day for writers of fantasy.
The former Pope, as Patriarch of Venice, was opposed to the sale of the Catholic Bank of the Veneto which was forced through towards the end of Pope Paul VI's reign.
This could have been a motive for friction with Archbishop Marcinkus but after less than a month in office, could John Paul I alter the financial structure set up by his immediate highly-respected predecessor Paul VI? Yallop alleges that this reorganisation was the motive for the killing.
But there is a less sensational explanation. I interviewed his family shortly after his election and they told me that when he had been Bishop of Vittorio Veneto he had learned that two of his priests had been caught with their hands in the till.
As a result he had suffered such severe intestinal disorders he had to go to hospital. If he took sick because of the worries connected with a small Veneto diocese, the burdens of the Vatican were enough to kill him without any poison.
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