by our Rome correspondent THE Vatican Bank made a secret payment of £12 million to the Polish trade union Solidarity in the early 1980s in the name of a Polish priest.
This is one of the details to emerge after a Milan court found 33 leading Italian businessmen guilty of complicity in the fraudulent 1982 bankruptcy of a privately-owned Italian hank, dubbed "God's Bank" because of its ties with the Vatican.
Days alter the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano, with estimated debts of £900 million, its chairman, Roberto Calvi, was found hanging dead under Blackfriars Bridge in London.
According to another post-trial revelation. Calvi had gone to London to seek funds to cover the hole in his bank hooks after the Vatican Bank, Institute for Religious Works, refused to advance the money.
Calvi had also written to Pope John Paul 11 asking for help in return for the financial assistance the Ambrosiano had provided secretly to Solidarity at the time of the trades union's creation in the early 1980s.
The Vatican bank, directed at the time by retired Chicago-born Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, now back in the United States, has always denied involvement in the Ambrosiano scandal.
Announcing that he would appeal aagainst the 15 year sentence he received for complicity in the fraud, Carboni went on to say that Calvi had close personal business dealings with the Vatican bank. Calvi and Archbishop Marcinkus, for example, were the secret joint owners of land in South America and in the state of Mississippi in the United States, he said. Calvi, said Carboni. had gone to London to prepare the ground for his membership of a British masonic lodge. • The banker proposed to join a London lodge in order to widen his business network in Britain.
The London coroner's court first ruled that he had committed suicide by hanging under the Thames bridge but on appeal by Calvi's wife, it returned a second, open verdict.