In God's Name
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Yallop proposes the theory that the pope was in "potential danger" because of corruption in the Istituto per le Opere Religiose (IOR, Institute of Religious Works, the Vatican's most powerful financial institution, commonly known as the Vatican Bank), which owned many shares in Banco Ambrosiano. The Vatican Bank lost about a quarter of a billion dollars.
This corruption was real and is known to have involved the bank's head, Paul Marcinkus, along with Roberto Calvi of the Banco Ambrosiano. Calvi was a member of P2, an illegal Italian Masonic lodge. Calvi was found dead in London, after disappearing just before the corruption became public. His death was initially ruled suicide, and a second trial — ordered by his family — then returned an "open verdict".
The day before Calvi's corpse was discovered, his secretary also "committed suicide" by falling from a fourth floor office window at the bank's headquarters. A note was found which attacked Calvi for bringing the bank into disrepute.
Yallop also offers as suspects Archbishop John Patrick Cody of Chicago, whom he believes Luciani was about to force into retirement, and Cardinal Jean-Marie Villot, because of his supposed theological differences with the new pope.
Yallop catalogues a number of remarks made by the Pope, indicating that he believed the church's position on contraception was immoral and outdated. In conversation with several people, the Pope had indicated that a rethink of the encyclical Humanae Vitae was needed, allowing the use of the contraceptive pill among the faithful. The late Pope supported these comments by reference to malnutrition in the Third World, with the words "God does not always provide".
Third World Cardinals
Luciani had been elected pontiff largely through the support of Cardinals from the Third World, with whom he had shared a desire for a "Third World" Pope when he arrived at the Conclave that ultimately elected him John Paul I. The proposed candidate was Brazilian Cardinal Aloísio Lorscheider, but when his nomination failed to attract significant support, other Third World representatives switched their votes to Luciani, reasoning that he at least shared their sympathies. It has been suggested - not least in 'The Making of the Popes' - that the actual 'kingmaker' was the Archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Benelli, whom some observers had expected to make a play for the Papacy himself.
Yallop's book examined many of the inaccurate statements issued by the Vatican in the days after John Paul's death and received international attention, including demands from some senior churchmen for an inquiry into the death itself.
Competing book from John Cornwell
Yallop's theories were undermined in the eyes of some[who?] by John Cornwell's subsequent book (see below), which proposes a 'benign' conspiracy to account for the discrepancies in the official version of the Pope's death. After decades of ongoing controversy, it has recently been reported that the investigation about the death of John Paul I would be reopened.
Their Kingdom Come
Following Yallop's book, Robert Hutchinson's Their Kingdom Come: Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei appeared in 1997. Hutchison believes that several individuals within the church who were opposed to Opus Dei and who ostensibly died from heart attacks may in fact have been poisoned. Drawing on Yallop's thesis, Hutchinson suggests that this fate may also have befallen John Paul I.
- In God's Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I, David Yallop. New York: Bantam Books, 1984, ISBN 0-553-05073-7