Jump to content

Pope John Paul I conspiracy theories

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pope John Paul I
Grave of John Paul I in the Vatican Grottoes, with its plaque updated after his beatification on 4 September 2022

Pope John Paul I died suddenly in September 1978, 33 days after his election. Following his death, several conspiracy theories have sprung up.



Discrepancies in the Vatican's account of the events surrounding Pope John Paul I's death—its inaccurate statements about who found the body;[1] what he had been reading; when, where, and whether an autopsy could be carried out[1][2]—produced a number of conspiracy theories, many associated with the Vatican Bank, which owned a large share in Banco Ambrosiano.

Some conspiracy theorists connect the pope's death with the image of the "bishop dressed in white" said to have been seen by Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto during the visitations of Our Lady of Fátima in 1917.[3][4] In a letter to a colleague, John Paul had said he was deeply moved by having met Lucia and vowed to perform the Consecration of Russia in accordance with her vision.[5]

Conspiracy theories


David Yallop


David Yallop's 1984 book In God's Name proposed the theory that the pope had been in "potential danger" because of corruption in the Vatican Bank (known officially as the Institute for Works of Religion or Istituto per le Opere di Religione), the Vatican's most powerful financial institution[6] which owned many shares in Banco Ambrosiano. The Vatican Bank lost several hundred million dollars.[7]

This corruption was real[8] and is known to have involved the bank's head, Bishop Paul Marcinkus, along with Roberto Calvi of the Banco Ambrosiano. Marcinkus, at the time head of the Vatican Bank, was indicted in Italy in 1982 as an accessory in the $3.5 billion collapse of Banco Ambrosiano.[9] Calvi was a member of P2, an illegal Italian Masonic lodge.[10] He was found dead in London in 1982, after disappearing just before the corruption became public. His death was initially ruled suicide and a second inquest – ordered by his family – then returned an open verdict.[11] In October 2002 forensic experts appointed by Italian judges concluded that the banker had been murdered.[12]

In his 2012 book The Power and The Glory: Inside the Dark Heart of John Paul II's Vatican, Yallop writes that Luciani had been given a list of 121 Masons and on September 28 (the day of his death) had advised Jean-Marie Villot, at that time Cardinal Secretary of State, with personnel transfers.[13] Yallop specifically summarized his conspiracy theory in his 1984 book: Three archbishops—Marcinkus, Villot and Cody—conspired with three Mafia types—Calvi, Sindona and Gelli—in the murder of John Paul I. "It was clear that these six men—Marcinkus, Villot, Cody, Calvi, Sindona and Gelli—had a great deal to fear if the papacy of John Paul I should continue... all of them stood to gain in a variety of ways if John Paul I should suddenly die."[14]

In his book A Thief in the Night, British historian and journalist John Cornwell examines and challenges Yallop's points of suspicion. Yallop's murder theory requires that the pope's body be found at 4:30 or 4:45 a.m., one hour earlier than official reports estimated.[15] He bases this, inter alia, on an early story by Vatican Radio and the Italian news service ANSA that garbled the time and misrepresented the layout of the papal apartments. Yallop says he had testimony from Sister Vincenza Taffarel (the nun who found the pope's body) to this effect but refused to show Cornwell his transcripts.[16]

Abbé Georges de Nantes


Theologian Abbé Georges de Nantes spent much of his life building a case for murder against the Vatican, collecting statements from people who knew the pope before and after his election. His writings go into detail about the banks and about John Paul I's supposed discovery of a number of Freemason priests in the Vatican, along with a number of his proposed reforms and devotion to Our Lady of Fátima.[17]

Catholic Traditionalist Movement


According to the Catholic Traditionalist Movement organization, their founder Fr. Gommar DePauw was to have gone to Rome to help John Paul I reestablish the Tridentine Mass:[18]

[Fr. DePauw] stated on the 15th anniversary of the pope's death: "Well, I tell you one thing, if he had remained Pope, you wouldn't have me here at the Chapel because with that beautiful official letter signed by the Secretary of State, also came an unofficial message that I better start packing my suitcase, that there was a job waiting for me in Rome, in the Vatican, to help Pope John Paul I bring the Truth back to the Church. Well, it wasn't to be and the Lord, Who knows what He does, obviously wanted me to be in this Chapel. [...] What was I going to do in Rome? Well let's just forget it."

Other prominent Traditionalist Catholic websites, not related to CTM, have suggested John Paul I may have been assassinated to prevent restoration of the Tridentine Mass.[19]

Charles Murr


In his 2017 book The Godmother: Madre Pascalina,[20] Fr. Charles Murr writes about the coincidence that Pope John Paul I had attempted to discipline[21] Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio, who appointed many "liberal" bishops including, later, the defrocked ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and that Cdl. Baggio was the last person to have seen Pope John Paul I alive.[22]

Anthony Raimondi


In his book When the Bullet Hits the Bone, which was published in 2019, Anthony Raimondi (who claims to be a nephew of Lucky Luciano) says he helped his cousin Archbishop Paul Marcinkus kill the pope by putting valium in his tea to knock him out, then poisoning him with cyanide. The reason given was that John Paul had allegedly threatened to expose "a massive stock fraud run by Vatican insiders". Raimondi says that plans were made to also assassinate John Paul II had the latter decided to expose the fraud. Raimondi says that "If they take [the pope's body] and do any type of testing, they will still find traces of the poison in his system."[23]


Malachi Martin's 1986 book Vatican: A Novel is a novel based on recent papal history.[24]

In December 1986, a play by Mark E. Smith of British post-punk band The Fall, Hey! Luciani: The Life and Codex of John Paul I, was staged for two weeks in London, starring performance artist Leigh Bowery. It drew on conspiracy theories about the pope's death. The Fall's single "Hey! Luciani" reached number 59 on the UK singles chart in December[25] of that year.[26][27]

The Last Confession is a play written in 2007 by Roger Crane. It is a thriller that tracks the dramatic tensions, crises of faith, and political manoeuvrings inside the Vatican surrounding the death of Pope John Paul I.[28]

The plot of the film The Godfather Part III features a version of the Vatican Bank conspiracy theory.

See also



  1. ^ a b "Bishop Tells Story of Pope John Paul I's Death He Debunks Conspiracy Theory, Buts Says Vatican Altered Some Details". St. Louis Dispatch. October 11, 1998. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
  2. ^ "Evidence of foul play in Pope death claimed". Chicago Tribune. Oct 7, 1978. Archived from the original on 19 December 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
  3. ^ John Paul I at Catholic Counter-Reformation Archived 2013-09-02 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Chapter 4 of Whole Truth about Fátima Archived 2010-05-05 at the Wayback Machine, sections 7, 8 and 9, webpage found 2010-04-29.
  5. ^ Quoted in Camillo Bassotto's book My Heart Is Still in Venice, a biography of John Paul I (Krinon, 1990).
  6. ^ Ben Walsh, The Pope’s Overlooked Legacy: Reforming The Vatican Bank. Huffington Post, 2015-09-24.
  7. ^ Lewis, Paul (28 July 1982). "Italy's Mysterious, Deepening Bank Scandal". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Paul Vallely, Can Pope Francis clean up God's bank? The Guardian, 2015-08-13
  9. ^ Margalit Fox, Archbishop Marcinkus, 84, Banker at the Vatican, Dies. New York Times, 2006-02-22.
  10. ^ Calvi murder: The mystery of God's banker, The Independent, June 7, 2007
  11. ^ Summers, Chris (4 December 2002). "Call for third 'God's banker' inquest". BBC News.
  12. ^ Summers, Chris (2002-12-04). "Call for third 'God's banker' inquest". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2005-12-12.
  13. ^ Yallop, David (2012-08-23). The Power and The Glory: Inside the Dark Heart of John Paul II's Vatican. Little, Brown Book Group. p. 34. ISBN 9781472105165.
  14. ^ In God's Name June 1984, David Yallop. p. 6
  15. ^ Miesel, Sandra (2009-04-01). "A Quiet Death in Rome: Was Pope John Paul I Murdered?". Crisis magazine. Retrieved 2019-07-02.
  16. ^ Slotnik, Daniel (2018-09-14). "David Yallop, Writer Who Saw a Deadly Vatican Conspiracy, Dies at 81". New York Times. Retrieved 2019-07-02.
  17. ^ de Nantes, Georges (1984-10-01). "Murder at the Vatican". The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 20th Century. League for Catholic Counter-Reformation. Retrieved 2022-09-06.
  18. ^ Cuneo, Richard (8 September 2013). "September 2013 News From CTM". latinmass-ctm.org. Catholic Traditionalist Movement. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  19. ^ Potemra, Michael (28 September 2013). "Papa Luciani, 35 Years Later". nationalreview.com. National Review. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  20. ^ Murr, Charles (2017). The Godmother: Madre Pascalina. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 9781546392828. Archived from the original on 2018-08-23. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  21. ^ "Was John Paul I the last Italian pope?". Catholic Herald. 2022-09-05. Retrieved 2022-10-23.
  22. ^ Kengor, Paul (5 September 2018). "Sowers of the Current Chaos". crisismagazine.com. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  23. ^ Hamilton, Brad (2019-10-19). "Meet the mobster who claims he helped whack Pope John Paul I over stock fraud". New York Post. Retrieved 2019-10-20.
  24. ^ Martin, Malachi, Vatican: A Novel, Harper & Row, New York, 1986 ISBN 0-06-015478-0
  25. ^ "hey luciani | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2022-09-05.
  26. ^ The Story of The Fall, "Hey! Luciani", www.dailyreckless.com. Retrieved 5 February 2018
  27. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 271. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
  28. ^ McNulty, Charles (2014-06-15). "'Last Confession' takes earnest look at reform, power struggle". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. Retrieved 2017-07-23.

Further reading