The Murder of Pope John Paul I
JUSTICE WILL BE HEARD
Mgr Giulio Nicolini, a prelate in the Roman Curia and the author of the first biography of the “smiling Pope” has made a declaration intended to have the widest publicity. According to this declaration, the British writer, David Yallop's hypothesis is – at least for this well-educated, well-informed individual – “absurd and baseless”. Such is also the general opinion, the convenient and reassuring view, of even that left-wing-scandal-exposing paper of the right, Minute (29 June). For Jean Bourdier, «one would search in vain in this enquiry for the shadow of a proof, even per absurdum». It would seem then that he has not read it. Or else, acting in the service of the mafia, he has committed the magisterial gaffe of one who has overreached himself.
What is so interesting in this rather too harmonious consensus of opinion is what it regards as its decisive argument, this proof per absurdum, usually all that is needed for those who read the newspapers and watch television, viz. that it would be too awful, therefore it cannot be true. Read Bourdier, for example:
«The argument set forth in the book is a little too classic: John Paul I, an honest pope keen on progress and openness, falls victim to the conservative and corrupt old sharks of the Vatican headed by Cardinal Villot who, let it be said in passing, is no longer around to contradict any of this. In which case, what are we to think of the present Pope, John Paul II, other than that he himself is the accomplice and even supporter of the aforesaid sharks?» It would be too awful, and therefore it is false.
And Mgr Nicolini, a Vatican functionary writes: «When Mr Yallop states that the cardinals silenced the true causes of death, he is in effect accusing the entire Sacred College, including the Pope, of being accomplices in murder. It is crazy.»
Obviously! It is crazy. Such is the only form of refutation offered by opinion formers, both secular and ecclesiastic: it is crazy! Similarly, when I accused Paul VI of heresy, schism and scandal, after having been barred access to him by a triple cordon of plain-clothes policemen lest he would have to hear my complaint or examine my reasons, Paul VI raised his hands in the air in the presence of Cardinal Marty, who has related the story many times, exclaiming: «How can he say the Pope is a heretic!» It was crazy. No need at all to formally deny it. Thus heresy, schism and scandal, a hundred times proved and publicly denounced, received new strength and life as they passed from Paul VI to John Paul II, ever more tolerated by the patient, the Roman Catholic Church, who is dying of a poisoned soul.
It is the same story here. John Paul I assassinated? Absurd. No need to disprove it. Besides, Yallop does not provide the slightest proof (for such is masonic impudence). Nor the slightest evidence (for masonic crime does not leave any)! So, everything was normal at the Vatican before the death of John Paul I? Of course! And on the day of his death, everything was in order? Absolutely! And since then...? Oh! since then, everything has been going from strength to strength in the kingdom of Augeas. So say the court flatterers, and we can take it from them! John Paul II is reigning over an honest Church in a flourishing capitalist world.
Certainly Pierre Boutang, the brilliant disciple of Charles Maurras, will tell you so: «Standing alone against tyranny, acting as the last rampart of “free thinkers” against plutocratic tyranny and defending the rights of pure spirit, is the Roman Pontiff», John Paul II (p.3o5)
Boutang has the wrong idea, the wrong year and the wrong pontiff. It was John Paul I, unlike his successor, who dared to stand alone against plutocratic and masonic tyranny. And it cost him his life. “Though dead, he still speaks”, as it is written of Abel the Just (Heb 11.4). Let us go back to the moment when the poison began to take hold, the moment perhaps when Sister Vincenza led him from his bathroom to his bed. He grasped in an already tense hand the paper that would witness to his supreme wishes and would clearly spell out the reason for his death: the list of forced resignations, liberating dismissals and honest appointments, decided upon but yet to be confirmed.
It was an appeal, even in death, from the martyr pope to him who was to be his successor and the executor of his Will, the next pope. Considering abnormal what had been happening in the Vatican since the appointment of the financier Bernardino Nogara, the darling of Pius XI, passing through the Pacelli nepotes, alas, whom Rome called the Pacelli rapaces, to end in the sharks Sindona and Calvi and the gorilla Marcinkus... Considering abnormal the conspiracy he felt surrounding him, encircling him ever more tightly each day till it suffocated him – I have witnesses to this –, this conspiracy which he knew to be masonic, in the very Vatican... Considering all these things, John Paul I appealed in his death to Him who would come after him in these conditions, the Vicar of Christ on earth, beseeching him to carry out his first and last Will, his supreme desire, for a profound reform of the Roman Church, rotten in her head and sick in her body. He appealed to his successor to chase out of God’s House, with Christ’s rod of iron, the Sicilian mafia, the Milanese bank and international freemasonry.
It was not the Imitation of Jesus Christ nor some discourse for an occasion that John Paul I was holding in his tense hand. It was his imperative programme for the immediate cleansing of the Vatican. It had to be cleansed of the god of Money which was adored there and of the cult paid to that god in terms of the law of maximum profit. Such is our sign, such is our proof.
Now, this is what still needs to be done in order to be faithful to “God’s candidate”, to the Saint given to the Church by God, but killed by men.
THIS IMPRESSIVE ROMAN CONTINUITY
This continuity presents itself, for an admiring public opinion, as one of wisdom and of virtue, scarcely even momentarily interrupted by the death of a poor exhausted pope. But for David Yallop and for us too, the impressive Roman continuity in this instance is the continuity of the cult of Money with all its accompanying vices ending in spiritual blindness and hardness of heart.
Let us take up this “inferior whodunnit” again from our previous article. «To identify correctly who was responsible for the murder of Albino Luciani one should consider what occurred at the Second Conclave and what has happened subsequently.» For Yallop, it is quite clear: «By benefit of murder – business as usual.» Here lies the continuity, following the hiccup in the affairs of Vatican village and of Vatican Incorporated SA caused by John Paul I. And it is this that denounces the crime and pinpoints the main criminal, his collaborators of the time and his subsequent accomplices. I leave the enthusiasts of Paul VI – are there still any? – and of John Paul II – there is still a crowd – the freedom to entitle their account of these events, stretching from the death of John Paul I till today: «Proofs of the Pope’s natural death and of the Church’s innocence – With John Paul II, everything continues as before.»
Everything continues at the Vatican as before. What does that mean? It means the following.
A SUCCESSFUL CONCLAVE
Operation survival of the sinister mafia who had gravitated around Paul VI required that John Paul I be assassinated, that this be travestied as a natural death via the extreme hypothesis of the suicide of a poor incompetent pope, and that afterwards an acceptable successor be elected. Preferably a friend, a Roman of the Curia sufficiently involved in affairs, or else a newcomer from somewhere else, someone from very far away who would not “dig” into the accounts, at least not before sufficient time had elapsed to restore a little order to things.
In the Via Archimede it was vital for them to get down to work. To mobilize their people and mount their intrigues, they had to plan their strategy as they had done before for the successful 1963 Conclave. Yallop reconstitutes the balloting with a degree of plausibility. At any rate, Siri the integrist would not do. But he would be useful to divide votes and so stop Benelli. Benelli would be dangerous, so he would have to be presented to the conclavists as an unbearable authoritarian. «If Benelli had been elected there is no doubt whatsoever that many of the courses of action Luciani had determined upon would have been carried out.»
None of the Curial cardinals appeared to charm the electors. Yallop does not say how the name of Karol Wojtyla emerged and succeeded in winning by a narrow majority after three scrutinies. He simply writes: «Benelli fell nine votes short and the eventual winner, a compromise candidate, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, bears little resemblance to Albino Luciani. Wojtyla has given countless demonstrations that all he has in common with his predecessor is the papal name John Paul.» In what follows, the English journalist shows himself to be extremely harsh, even coldly disdainful towards the new Pope.
It is possible, however, to conceive of the conclave taking place in such a way as to exempt the cardinals and their elected candidate from all conscious, deliberate and actual complicity with the mafia supposedly directing their votes. Under the unquestionable authority of Cardinal Villot, they soon ceased discussing the circumstances surrounding John Paul I’s strange demise. Once the conclave had begun, there was no more talk of it. We can be sure that no one demanded the opening of an enquiry. Assemblies are cowardly and, without a bold leader, they are soft. It was decided to begin a new stage without looking back. For this, they would elect a foreigner – someone alien to the dirty business of the Curia. The mafia accepted and pushed the candidate Wojtyla, who had benefited sufficiently from Vatican Incorporated not to dig into the papers, files and accounts. Besides, he was well known as a sportsman, a traveller, a philosopher, an orator – all very reassuring for the robbers and financiers, mafiosi and masons alike.
So Karol Wojtyla was elected. Yallop supposes that he was immediately put in the picture... I would prefer to think not. Busy with all sorts of other things, he could very well have felt no surprise at the circumstances surrounding John Paul I’s death and therefore be totally unaware of the real state of Vatican village and Vatican Incorporated. He could thus in all innocence have brought about this return to normality (to the already inveterate abnormal) willed by the authors and accomplices of the assassination.
The fact is that it was business as usual and all the racketeers kept their jobs. This is what Yallop writes:
«Pope John Paul II was in the unique position to bring all Luciani’s plans to fruition. Not one of Luciani’s proposed changes became a reality. Whoever had murdered the Pope had not murdered in vain.
«Villot was again appointed Secretary of State. Cody remained in control of Chicago. Marcinckus, aided by Mennini, de Strobel and Monsignor de Bonis, continued to control the Vatican Bank and continued to ensure that its criminal activities with Banco Ambrosiano flourished. Calvi and his P2 bosses, Gelli and Ortolani, were free to continue their massive thefts and frauds under the protection of the Vatican Bank. Sindona was able, at least in the short term, to maintain his freedom in New York. Baggio did not go to Venice. The corrupt Poletti remained Cardinal Vicar of Rome.»
For more ample information on the key people involved, read the relevant pages in Yallop's “inferior whodunnit”! He continues in the form of a council for the prosecution:
«Many millions of words have been written since the election of Karol Wojtyla in attempts to analyse and understand what manner of man he is. He is the kind of man who could allow men like Villot, Cody, Marcinkus, Mennini, de Strobel, de Bonis and Poletti to remain in office. Marcinkus is directly answerable to the Pope and for the Pope to be unaware of the degree of guilt that clings to Marcinkus defies belief...»
At any rate, in every sphere, «Wojtyla did nothing... it is the Papacy of double standards: one set for the Pope and another for the rest of mankind. The Papacy of John Paul II has become a triumph for the wheeler dealers, for the corrupt, for the international thieves like Calvi, Gelli and Sindona, while His Holiness has maintained a very highly publicized image not unlike some perpetual rock and roll tour. The men behind the tarmac-kissing star are ensuring that it is business as usual and takings at the box office over the past five years have boomed..
«With the election of Wojtyla it was straight back to the values of Paul VI, with interest. With regard to the infiltration of the Vatican by Freemasons, for example, the Vatican through the current Pope, has now not only taken on board a variety of Masons from a variety of Lodges but it has also acquired its own in-house version. Its name is Opus Dei — God’s Work.»
Let us leave Opus Dei aside. The fact remains that, after a six year reign, there is still this inertia, this insensitivity to disorder, to mounting and overflowing anarchy, this total absence of command, this fear of all confrontation, this tolerance of the wicked and this thirst for popularity. There are also these chains of gold that Karol Wojtyla was unable to break immediately: «He gives his blessing for large quantities of dollars to be available secretly and illegally to Solidarity in Poland.» Still, the warning shot from Moscow delivered on 13 May 1981 may have been a lesson, and the Pope’s last visit to Poland put paid to the alliance with Solidarnosc. But given the support of his financial backers, how could he set himself up as their judge? Corruptible, if one may be so bold as to use the word, for a good cause, accepting Cardinal Cody’s little bags of gold, protected, as was Paul VI on his visit to the Philippines, by the inevitable Marcinkus from the put-up attempt on his life at Fatima in 1982, how could he at the same time examine their conduct and punish their crimes?
Is it possible to describe as an accomplice a Pope who is constantly looking the other way and appears to be totally unaware of what is going on in his own House? Yes, most certainly, replies Yallop. He was chosen, he was elected for this reason. He lives and continues to live for this reason and he will escape every attempt on his life as long as he assumes full responsibility for it.
It? What is it? It is this.
MONSTROUS FRAUDS, CONSECUTIVE MURDERS
Liquidating Pope John Paul I provided a breathing space. Business could continue. But affairs were going badly. Since the Crack Sindona of 1974, things took a very giddy turn and were getting ever more dangerous. Pursued by the police, by the law courts, by the creditors and inspectors of the central banks, they had to kill in order to keep the wheels turning. «The litany of murder and mayhem perpetrated to mask plundering on an unimaginable scale makes grim reading.»
Roberto Calvi, who had returned to Italy following the election of John Paul II, was warned by Licio Gelli that inspectors Padolino and Sarcinelli of the Bank of Italy were closing in on him, so much so that Judge Alessandrini of Milan was about to issue a warrant for his arrest at any moment. Driving along the Via Muratori, the judge stopped at the red traffic lights, and there the courageous man met his end, riddled with bullets. «With Alessandrini dead, Calvi was a new man.»
In the meanwhile, a former member of the P2, a blackmailer, imagined that he could defy Licio Gelli. It was Pecorelli, who had arranged for the list of curial freemasons to reach the “smiling Pope”. This time, it would be his turn to suffer! In a car park, he received two bullets in the mouth, sasso in bocca, to seal his lips for ever.
Cardinal Villot died at about the same time. «He died still holding the vast array of official titles that had been his during Luciani’s brief reign». He died amidst indifference if not general contempt, doubtless poisoned by his own blood, which had been masonic since birth.
However, Chief Inspector Sarcinelli and the Governor of the Bank of Italy, Paolo Baffi, continued to demand the Shark’s arrest. Displaying the extent of their power, P2 succeeded in having them arrested and imprisoned, on 25 March 1979! When they were released, ill and debilitated, they had the good sense to retire...
For his part, Sindona saw his troubles grow. «The New York Justice Department indicted Sindona and charged him with 99 counts of fraud, perjury and misappropriation of bank funds» which had led directly to the collapse of the Franklin Bank. He issued a contract for the assassination of the District Attorney, John Kenney! But New York is not Italy; he wasted his time and lost his money. He recompensed himself for this failure by having the liquidator of his Banca Privata Finanzaria killed, one Giorgio Ambrosoli appointed by the Milan court. «That damned liquidator of my Bank is harming me and therefore I want to have him killed. I will make him disappear in such a way that he leaves no trace.» A boast? Half a boast.
The assassination took place on the second day of the trial, on 11 July 1979: four bullets from a P38. And as Ambrosoli had had an important telephone communication with the head of the security service in Rome, Lt Colonel Antonio Varisco, he too was killed together along with his chauffeur – four shots from a sawn off shot gun – on 13 July 1979. Ambrosoli had also spoken to the head of the criminal section in Palermo, Boris Giuliano. So he too met the same fate as he was coming out of the Lux Bar in Palermo. The deed was signed: «Boris Giuliano’s position was taken by Giuseppe Impallomeni, a member of P2»!
And so on and so forth... Enough to weaken the courage of any successors, be they policemen, bankers, judges or... pope! Thus the financial speculation continued, its progress marked by assassinations, but under increasing surveillance and detailed examination. «Giorgio Ambrosoli did not die in vain.» Through his files everything was uncovered. Among a thousand other things, «that Sindona had paid a brokerage fee of 6.5 million dollars to a Milanese banker and an American bishop for the fraudulent purchase of the Banca Cattolica del Veneto», the priests’ bank of Venice, so dear to Archbishop Luciani. The banker was Roberto Calvi and the bishop was Paul Marcinkus, John Paul II’s right-hand man and bodyguard.
TRIALS AND LOST REPUTATIONS
Despite all these criminal delays, «Sindona’s trial on the massive array of charges arising from the collapse of the Franklin Bank began in early February l980». That is six years after the “crack” and the discovery of the swindles that brought it about.
From the start of this trial «the Vatican gave clear indication that the Roman Catholic Church at least was going to stand by its former financial adviser.» Cardinals Caprio and Guerri and Bishop Marcinkus were to make «sworn depositions». The idea of their being sworn on oath was a considerable surprise to the judges and very reassuring for Sindona. On oath! But at the last minute, Cardinal Casaroli let it be known, «there would be no depositions». This time the amazement was on the other side. He was autocratically opposed to the idea, aware of the danger if Vatican Incorporated were thus to get entangled in American justice. «Casaroli had shrewdly saved the Vatican at the eleventh hour. What the American Lawyers did not know was that in doing so he had actually overridden a decision taken by the Pope. John Paul II had happily agreed to the request that Marcinkus and the others should tell the world how highly they regarded Michele Sindona.»
Here the adverb happily is not an example of British humour. It is the exact word and shows the innocence of the Pope rather than his criminal complicity. Karol Wojtyla has always had plenty of money and has always spent it without worrying where it came from or how much it cost. He does not smell its odour. On becoming master of the Vatican fortune, he began to spend the revenues placed at his disposition by Mgr Marcinkus, with the same lavishness and heedlessness as Paul VI, contenting himself with honouring the financiers who procured the money for him with a kind of camaraderie sui generis. Sindona was one of them. He had difficulties? We must help him out... For my part, I think that he was still so engrossed with other matters at that time that he was totally unaware, and was happy to remain so, of the financial realities. He would later become aware of these realities, by which time it would already be too late to extricate himself, to react and to resume the work begun by his holy martyred predecessor. Too late, or else too soon.
Sindona was condemned on 27 March 1980 and jailed. He attempted to commit suicide by «consuming a quantity of digitalis». «Acting on Grand Master Gelli’s advice, Sindona had carried with him everywhere, for many years, a lethal dose of digitalis. Gelli had advised not only Sindona, but other top P2 members always to carry the drug.» «Strange advice», indeed! All the more sinister in that this same lethal dose could equally well be used to cause the death of an enemy, a compromising or embarrassing witness, a policeman, a judge... or a pope, allowing, moreover, the murder to pass for a suicide or a timely natural death.
Sindona was saved by the prison infirmary and was then sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment. His right hand man, Bordoni, was sentenced to seven years.
Calvi in his turn was threatened with similar trouble in July. Gelli intervened in his hidden and all powerful manner, and the danger was averted. But «Massimo Spada, late of the Vatican Bank and currently Chairman of Banca Cattolica del Veneto, was arrested and charged with involvement of a criminal nature in Il Crack Sindona. Next to feel the handcuffs was Luigi Mennini, still active in the Vatican Bank, on similar charges.» Thereafter «Calvi began to fear that, despite the massive amounts of money he had channelled into the hands of Bishop Paul Marcinkus, the time might be fast approaching when the man across the Tiber might withdraw his active support and leave Calvi alone and highly vulnerable.»
That was to happen later, and for him it would be the final catastrophe, swinging at the end of a length of rope under a London bridge. In the meanwhile, the man continued with his staggering frauds, masterly exploiting the flaws in the capitalist system. Yallop sums it up and leaves his reader to draw the necessary conclusion: the condemnation without appeal of the present world capitalist system (here every word used to define the evil counts). For us, the important thing is that in all these legal proceedings, slowed down by a series of assassinations, the name of Marcinkus and the names of his uomini di fiducia keep recurring, implicated as they all were in every one of these frauds, thefts and... murders. And for that, the Vatican Bank, the “Institute for the Works of Religion”! and Roberto Calvi’s Banco Ambrosiano had to be one and the same thing, something unclean.
When the Shark was eventually arrested and jailed in Lodi prison, the alternative was as follows: either the Vatican would let things take their course in which case Marcinkus and his employer, the Pope, would risk being compromised in the huge scandal, or else it would come to Calvi’s aid with further illegalities in order to save him from imminent collapse.
Marcinkus felt himself cornered. He tried to explain things to Calvi’s son when Calvi had his back to the wall, «If we do (come to the aid of the Ambrosiano by implicating Vatican Incorporated), it’s not only the IOR and the Vatican’s image (sic) which will suffer. You’ll lose as well, for our problems are your problems too.» Very much master of himself and of the Vatican, «Marcinkus reasoned that if everyone kept calm the game could continue.» For that, Calvi would have to be left to shift for himself and take the rap alone. «He tried to commit suicide... He swallowed a quantity of barbiturates and slashed his wrists.» Like Sindona, but not with digitalis... as he intended to keep his life. This little episode did not move the judges, who condemned him all the same. As Marcinkus had foreseen, Calvi appealed and was freed without bail. Business could continue as usual, the business of a banker condemned for countless frauds and supported by the directors of the Vatican. O tempora, o mores!
«At this stage, in August 1981, Calvi and Marcinkus perpetrated their biggest fraud.» Later, the newspapers would allow some of this to filter through. Yallop relates events and brings them into the sharp light of day. By means of «letters of comfort» Marcinkus’ uomini di fiducia, Mennini and de Strobel, testified to the South American creditors of Calvi’s banks that «the Holy Roman Catholic Church was the guarantor» of their debt (more than a billion dollars) in full knowledge of the facts... It was all highly reassuring. But another letter from Calvi, which for obvious reasons remained hidden, «assured the Vatican that this admission “would entail no liabilities for the IOR”. Hence the Vatican Bank was secretly absolved from debts to which it was about to admit.»!
The second letter, the letter of precaution, was not to be seen by the creditors until later, too late for them and for Calvi, but not too late for Marcinkus, who was actually benefiting from it to clear his person and his bank. In the interval, the creditors who had been reassured by the “letter of comfort” found themselves completely ruined and Calvi met his fatal end.
«The two letters and the agreement between Calvi and Marcinkus constitute a clear case of criminal fraud by both men. That all of this should have transpired on the third anniversary of the election of Albino Luciani to the Papacy adds to the obscenity. Luciani, a man committed and dedicated to the elimination of corruption within the Vatican, had been succeeded by Pope John Paul II, a man who wholeheartedly approved of Bishop Paul Marcinkus.
«This appalling effrontery grew when on September 28th, 1981, the third anniversary of Luciani’s death, Marcinkus was promoted by the Pope. It was announced that he had been appointed Pro-President of the Pontifical Commission for the Sate of Vatican City. This virtually made him Governor of Vatican City. He still retained his position as head of the Vatican Bank and the new post gave him automatic elevation to Archbishop.
«Through his Lithuanian origins, his continual espousal, in fiscal terms, of Poland’s needs and his close proximity to the Pope because of his role as personal bodyguard and overseer of all security on foreign trips, Marcinkus had discovered in the person of Karol Wojtyla the most powerful protector a Vatican employee could have. Sindona, Calvi and others like them are, according to the Vatican, wicked men who have deceived naive, trusting priests. Either Marcinkus has misled, lied to and suppressed the truth from Pope John Paul II since October 1978, or the present Pope also stands indicted.
«While Karol Wojtyla displays remarkable charisma and tells the world that a man who looks at his wife with desire could well be committing adultery of the heart, Marcinkus has continued to seduce many of the world’s bankers. While the Pope from Krakow demonstrates his preoccupation with maintaining the Roman Catholic status quo by his declarations that divorced Roman Catholics who had remarried could only be given Holy Communion if they totally abstained from sexual relationships with their married partners, the Pope’s bankers have shown themselves to be less fastidious about whom they sleep with.»
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
«At noon on March 2nd 1981 the Vatican Press Office released a document that puzzled many.» It renewed and reactivated the excommunication of freemasons. The integrists put out the flags and credited John Paul II with this reactionary measure. Once again, they were taking their desires for reality and embellishing the margins of harsh historical reality with their comforting legends.
Fifteen days later the enormous scandal of P2 — the illegal because secret lodge — hit the headlines. A list of 962 members had been discovered during a police raid of Licio Gelli’s villa in Arezzo. So the Vatican had acted just in time to stave off the disaster! The decree, made so conspicuous, would give those cardinals, bishops and monsignori whose names were on the list a solid argument for their defence and for the respect of their immunity.
Another premonitory manoeuvre: «During the time of Calvi’s trial the Vatican announced that Pope John Paul II had appointed a commission of fifteen Cardinals to study the finances of the Roman Catholic Church... Bishop Paul Marcinkus was not included as a member of the commission.» The same integrists hailed the event as the Gorilla’s downfall and again put out the flags. Wrong again. If he was not a member of the Commission, it was so that the latter could exonerate him all the more easily. Vatican Incorporated, through this decision of its General Managing Director, Pope John Paul II, was anticipating events and fending off danger. In the midst of the worst unrest, the Institute for the Works of Religion(!) retained the confidence of 800 million faithful contributing their “Peter’s Pence”, of German Catholics paying their annual ecclesiastical tax, and of the “500”, the five hundred Roman or Italian fortunes reckoned to be Vatican Incorporated’s biggest clients for laundering dirty money and transferring it abroad.
Thus, on the one hand John Paul II covered his freemasons, and on the other he covered his financiers, crooks, assassins or the accomplices of assassins.
Could it be that he was unaware of all this? At the beginning of 1982 he could not not know. On 12 January of that same year, a letter written in Polish was addressed to him and was successful in reaching him. It revealed to him in some detail the full extent of the ignominy of the financial mafia, whose responsible director he in fact was. «It set out the links between Marcinkus, Calvi, Gelli and Ortolani», and through the latter the Vatican’s links with «the international underworld» of drug trafficking, racketeering and assassination.
«The letter was ignored.» The authors of the letter, shareholders of the former Banco Ambrosiano from the time when it was still an honest bank, were not even graced with a formal acknowledgement. «Perhaps, Yallop cruelly adds, His Holiness was too busy writing a homily on charity, the greatest of virtues.»
However, «Calvi was aware that the letter had been sent and was equally aware that it had the approval of his general manager and deputy chairman Roberto Rosone. He discussed with his close friend and fellow P2 member, Flavio Carboni, the threat that Rosone’s attempts to clean up the bank were posing.»
No, they did not envisage shortening the days of the second John Paul. They were doubtless perfectly calm concerning that quarter now.
But let us continue with our instructive reading to learn what happens to people who write secret letters to the Pope about the activities of Marcinkus and Co:
«The range of Carboni’s friends and contacts was wide. It included such men as the two rulers of Rome’s underworld, Danilo Abbruciati and Ernesto Diotavelli.»
«On the morning of April 27th, 1982, Rosone left his apartment at a few minutes before 8.00 am. Fortunately for Rosone, he happened to live directly above a branch of Ambrosiano which, like all Italian banks, is protected on a 24-hour basis by armed guards. As Rosone emerged into the street a man approached and began firing. Wounded in the legs, Rosone collapsed to the ground. The armed bank guards retaliated. Moments later the assailant was also laid out on the pavement. Dead. His name was Danilo Abbruciati.
«The day after the attempted murder of Rosone, April 28th, Flavio Carboni paid the surviving leader of the Rome underworld 530,000 dollars. The job had been botched but Calvi was a man who honoured his debts – with other people’s money.» He himself hastened to his vice-president’s bedside with the customary bunch of flowers: «Madonna! What a world of madmen. They want to frighten us Roberto, so that they can get their hands on a Group worth 20,000 billion lire.»
But from that time, whether banker’s blood or villain’s blood, John Paul II has this blood on his hands.
The slipknot of justice, of Italian state justice, was pulling tighter and tighter every day and would end in making the murder of John Paul I quite pointless. In order to follow the fits and starts of the Milano-Vatican mafia let us unravel this muddle.
Vatican Incorporated had done some extraordinary and very good business. In 1982, Calvi could estimate «the patrimony of the IOR alone at 10 billion dollars.» No doubt everyone had greedily siphoned off and drawn from this gold mine. John Paul II in particular for Solidarnosc, despite the recriminations of the pro-Soviet Secretary of State, Casaroli. Marcinkus too, to feed his personal account in the Bahamas, a financial paradise or a paradise full stop.
Calvi too had made fabulous profits from the bank robbery industry taken to the extreme. But there too the terrible siphons were at work. Especially one of them, the P2 siphon acting on the orders of Licio Gelli or of his number two, Umberto Ortolani. From a certain period, the drain on his banks was such that it reached astronomical sums of money. Concrete, newly deposited money, the money of clients. «Calvi personally estimated that Gelli and Ortolani eventually were worth over 500 million dollars each.» At that rate, it meant the collapse of the Ambrosiano in the short term, and the disappearance of Calvi in one form or another. Licio Gelli was unconcerned: the Vatican would have to pay up. The Grand Master of P2 recommended that Calvi use all-out blackmail against his friend Marcinkus to make him cough up, in one billion dollar instalments, the holdings of the Institute for Religious Works and so reinflate the Ambrosiano. What blackmail? The same...
The same blackmail he used with Calvi over the telephone. «Gelli would never give his name when the Calvi family would ask who was calling. It was always the special codename, “Luciani”.» At the other end of the phone, Calvi would begin to tremble and pay up by releasing the sum demanded. «Gelli had a frightening hold over Roberto Calvi. What was the ultimate secret that Gelli knew which sent Calvi into fits of perspiring terror at the mere mention of Gelli’s name?»
The truth about Calvi was told by Mario Sarcinelli in the form of a funeral oration: «He began as a servant, then became a master, only to become the servant of other masters later on.» The day came when he could no longer satisfy the fantastic demands of the mysterious “Luciani”, whilst at the other end of the chain Marcinkus turned a deaf ear to his cries of distress. So it must have been he who was the weakest link in the affair of Luciani’s murder.
As we know, on 17th June 1982 «the body of Roberto Calvi was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in the City of London». His accounts showed «a 1.3 billion dollar hole», the equivalent of the first instalment of aid he had asked Marcinkus for, but which was not forthcoming. «Hours before Calvi died, his secretary in Milan, Graziella Corrocher, was “suicided” from a fourth floor window at the Banco Ambrosiano headquarters.»
Calvi’s widow laid the blame at the door of Bishop Marcinkus, which for her no doubt was a way of avoiding the anger and the lethal thunderbolts of Gelli, and perhaps also a way of continuing to serve him. «The Vatican had my husband killed to hide the bankruptcy of the Vatican Bank», she declared. If it is not true, it is certainly within the limits of possibility. But to choose between the “suicide’s” two long-standing accomplices, the other solution still remains the more plausible; so the widow’s accusation was meant to divert attention – to provide the masonic alibi.
At this point I pause for reflection. This masonic crime, which the English police immediately classified as a suicide with the same composure with which the Vatican doctors diagnosed the death of John Paul I as acute myocardial infarction, was also a sardonic crime. Thus, the day when some detective gets this far in following the traces of the Pope’s assassin, he will have something to laugh about. To the assassinated gentle Jesus of the Vatican corresponds the repulsive face of the man hanging beneath Blackfriars Bridge with the two symbolic bricks in his pockets. And the detective will easily identify him: Here, he will say, is the Judas of Pope John Paul I. He would also doubtless heed the discreet advice telling him: Go no further. Roberto Calvi is the end of your investigation. Stop here.
WHERE IS THE ONE RESPONSIBLE?
Cardinal Jean Villot died a natural death as the new Pope’s Secretary of State, and was succeeded by Cardinal Casaroli, in accordance with his choice. He had been supreme head for Pope Paul VI’s APSA, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. In this position, it was he who had held and managed the immense portfolio of Vatican investments. He had been the boss. He had never disavowed or resigned his responsibility, and Casaroli continues his secret finance and politics. It was Villot moreover who supported Marcinkus and the others.
But above all, «among those who strongly favoured a relaxation of the Canon rule that declared that any Roman Catholic who became a Freemason was automatically excommunicated, was Cardinal Jean Villot». «Villot, Masonic name Jeanni, Lodge number 041/3, enrolled in a Zurich Lodge on August 6th, 1966.» At least, that is what David Yallop asserts, but these things are very difficult to prove. Here too, Villot succeeded. «The new Canon Law that took effect on November 27th, 1983, has dropped the ruling that Freemasons are subjected to automatic excommunication. The survivors on the list of Vatican Masons that Albino Luciani considered are now safe. The purge that he had planned will not be reactivated by his successor.»
Under the pontificate of John Paul II, Villot triumphed, he who «feared that the changes that were about to be implemented by John Paul I were “a betrayal of Paul’s will, a triumph for the restoration.” He feared that they would take the Church back to pre-Vatican Council II.»
Bishop Paul Marcinkus is still alive, and still at liberty. In no way was he affected or even disturbed by the death of his friend Roberto Calvi. On the contrary, he was relieved. Thus, at the least expense and scarcely having to reimburse any of the immense thefts perpetrated in common, he was able to cut the calamitous links uniting the Vatican Bank with the Milan Ambrosiano, which was falling into discredit. Very skilfully and without scruples, either religious or moral, Marcinkus got himself, and the Vatican too, out of that scrape, even though both are now discredited.
«Karol Wojtyla was still going ahead with plans to give the man from Cicero a red hat. Again, only the insistence of Casaroli saved the day.» The man had been mired by the recent trials. «By September 1982, Marcinkus, the man who had never left the Pope’s side during his visit to Britain in May and June, had become a virtual prisoner within the Vatican.» The Pope appointed him “Governor of Vatican City” to explain this voluntary state of imprisonment, the sedentary state of the prelate who formerly organized all the papal tours and accompanied His Holiness everywhere.
«He still survives. He still hides in the Vatican, fearful of emerging in case of being immediately arrested by the Italian authorities.» His men of confidence have done the same as he, turning the Papal State into a refuge centre for international crooks. They are the ones who have recently been sentenced to long term imprisonment, only one of which is for crimes where the Vatican Bank is implicated. Le Monde informed its readers of this with remarkable discretion on 14 July. But although left with their temporary freedom, they are on the run and will continue to be on the run for a long while yet.
Thus, «Vatican Incorporated is still functioning. In all markets.» If the investors who are owed money are determined to get it back, «then there is only one logical course of action: sue the Vatican. More specifically sue the Vatican Bank and Pope John Paul II, for 85 per cent of the profits go directly to the Pope. »
Licio Gelli is still alive and still Grand Master of P2. After Calvi’s death he succeeded in netting the millions of dollars paid to him by the unhappy suicide of Blackfriars Bridge. One day he was betrayed by the Union des Banques Suisses when he called in at the Geneva branch of the UBS to withdraw the last 53 of the 100 million dollars paid into his personal account. He was arrested, but what did it matter! he continued to direct the operations of P2 from the comfort of his prison at Champ Dollon in Switzerland. And on 10 August 1983 he escaped, and without difficulty made his way to Uruguay.
«He is wanted in many countries, accused of many crimes, but the mass of information he has so diligently acquired over the years ensures that he continues to be protected.» «Extortion, blackmail, drug smuggling, arms smuggling, conspiracy to overthrow the legal Government, political espionage, military espionage, illegal possession of State secrets, involvement with a series of bomb outrages including the Bologna Station attack in which 84 people died», such are the various masonic activities of the one to be found «at the heart of the plot» which led to the murder of Pope John Paul I, and which later, under the codename of “Luciani”, was the starting point of the process that ended in the murder of Roberto Calvi.
«Gelli was also the collector of curious knowledge and information, including photographs of Pope John Paul II completely nude next to his swimming pool. When Gelli showed these snapshots to senior Socialist Party politician Vanni Nistico he remarked, “Look at the problems the secret services have. If it’s possible to take these pictures of the Pope, imagine how easy it is to shoot him.” Indeed. Or poison his predecessor.»
That is also true. But imagine instead how easy it would be with these photos to make a pope tremble. Even a pope! So, Baggio, Poletti and Bertoli, cardinals of the holy Roman Church, can go about their business quietly beneath the now perfectly reassuring dome of St Peter’s, the public image of Vatican Incorporated. Cardinal Cody died as Archbishop of Chicago, without remorse, and his... good lady, Helen Wilson, came into the income from the capital paid into his account by the diocese. See the defiant look on her face in photo 11 of Yallop’s book, where she can be seen with her cardinal in the company of Paul VI. His successor, Archbishop Joseph Bernardin of Cincinnati, the ringleader of the American pacifists and recently created Cardinal by John Paul II, «promised an immediate Church investigation into L’Affaire Cody... In December 1982, Bernardin issued a two-page pastoral letter to Chicago’s Catholics. The letter was not supported with any documentary evidence. Bernardin concluded that a probe of Cody’s finances showed no wrongdoing, that he may have unfairly awarded a pension to Helen Wilson, that he “did not always follow preferred accounting procedures”. More significantly... some of the financial records of the archdiocese could not be located.» Nothing serious, therefore, for the dynamic cardinal, a close friend of John Paul II, and now a leading figure of the American episcopate.
In the meanwhile the Pope talks and talks and goes on still more tours. And he does nothing. He accustoms the Church to being no more than a movement, an animation, a democracy.... So I ask myself whether it is he who is still in charge or whether he has ever governed the Church these last six years. That he holds titular responsibility for this spread of corruption and crime is incontestable. But is he the Organizer? No. The active accomplice? Certainly not. Passive? It depends in what sense. Passive and consenting? I do not think so. But passive through constraint, let us say the word, through blackmail, yes, certainly. The question, therefore arises: can a Pope honestly remain on the throne of Saint Peter when he is “held” by some mafia of Sicilians, of Milanese, of crooks from the Roman underworld on account of photos locked away for safe keeping in the Villa Archimede in Rome itself? The question of blackmail had arisen before in the bad days of Paul VI, and it comes up again in these bad days of John Paul II.
The ultimate explanation, which served as Mario Sarcinelli’s funeral speech for the suicide of Blackfriars Bridge, Roberto Calvi, can also serve, I think, as a premonitory funeral oration and definitive explanation for Karol Wojtyla: «He began as a servant, then became a master, only to become the servant of other masters later on.»
It must be painful to have been a servant in God’s House, then happily to have become a master there, the Master, only to find oneself, a few months or years later, the “Servant of the servants”... of Licio Gelli, a hidden and terrifying Grand Master... and poisoner. For ever since five o’clock on the morning of 29 September 1978, power had been criminally snatched from the tense hand of the Roman Pontiff, confiscated by the Grand Master of the Lodge, and John Paul II has been unable to take it back.
Recently the Church has publicly recognized this loss of power, after having withdrawn her anathemas against the freemasons, by agreeing no longer to exist politically. She did this when she abrogated, in concert with the masonic Italian State, the previous concordat made with Mussolini, in favour of another corresponding to “the Church’s new situation in the world”, in which the State is everything and the Church nothing. «The new Concordat recently signed between the Vatican and the Italian Government makes a fitting epitaph for the current Pope’s reign. Italy, for nearly two thousand years regarded by Catholics as the home of their faith, no longer has Roman Catholicism as “the religion of the State”. The Church’s privileged position in Italy (and therefore everywhere else in the world) is ending.» (end of David Yallop’s book).
Is it the end of the Roman Catholic Church or the end of Vatican Incorporated and the disappearance of the general managing director popes of investment banks, financial speculation banks, laundering and the recycling of dirty money?
ONE DAY POVERTY WILL SAVE THE CHURCH
Let us return to our starting point. We can no longer conceive that nothing was abnormal in the Church on 29 September 1978, both before and after. We think it is a grace given us by God, no doubt merited by the death of the most holy, pure and poor Albino Luciani, to understand that the life of the Church, her financial power and activity – unbridled speculation on the one hand and foolish expenditure on the other – were abnormal. And that this idolatry of Money and its law of maximum Profit, which has become the essential blot on our modern world, has succeeded in corrupting everything now that it holds sway in the House of God.
We think that this monstrosity of a “House of God” literally turned into a “den of thieves”, growing like a cancer at a uniformly accelerated rate, must of necessity end in the scandal of one enormous collapse, in a deluge of court cases, defence tactics and mad deeds, such as perjury, false oaths, suicides and assassinations.
We think, and no one would dream of denying it, that already as Archbishop of Venice and subsequently, as soon as he acceded to the sovereign pontificate, Albino Luciani had seen and understood all this. He had taken stock of this plague of international capitalism, this immense “anonymous and vagabond fortune” so ruinous for families, Christian institutions and States, and he had understood that this was the deepest evil afflicting our modern society. And thereafter, in all that concerned him, it was this evil that he attacked.
Once elected Pope, this fad of his – if one can call it such – would be the charter of his pontificate. He would reform the Church to bring back the poverty of the Gospel, “in reality as well as in the heart”, to use the words of St Ignatius in the Exercises. Beginning with Rome, and in Rome with the Vatican, and in the Vatican with its bank. It is because he vigorously undertook this difficult and dangerous cleansing operation that he died. But even if he died – as a thousand mouths in astonishing unison would have the world believe – solely and simply from fatigue and excessive pressure... Even if he died a natural, human death, and not an inhuman death by assassination, or the superhuman death, that of the martyr, an exemplary and saving sacrifice... Whichever way it was, he was stopped in his project by death. And an extraordinary silence has fallen on this pontificate, as though it had never existed, like a second death, a second assassination.
We think that since then everything has continued as before but made worse by a series of murders in which the Vatican has shared either through complicity or partnership, without Pope John Paul II, the idol of the crowds, having uttered a word of repudiation or sanction against it. It has to be admitted, that from the purely human, mundane, financial point of view, the rogues who reign in the Vatican have succeeded very well in dodging accusations, eluding prison and holding on to their pile, as one scandal after the next is made public. It must be said that their game has been remarkably facilitated by the ecclesiastical immunity and extra-territorial status enjoyed by the Vatican, and not least by the unfailing protection and friendship given by John Paul II to their immediate boss, Paul Marcinkus.
«Vatican Incorporated is still functioning. In all markets. In such a manner does Pope John Paul II preside over the Roman Catholic Church in April 1984.» They are the last words of David Yallop’s book. It means that, according to Albino Luciani’s sound and holy intuitions, the Pope is presiding over the decomposition of the Roman Church’s faith, discipline and morality because of Money and its law of maximum Profit and reckless expense. And through the decomposition of the Roman Church, he is presiding over the collapse of the world.
In order to see and understand this, grace is doubtless necessary – the grace merited by the pure and poor life of Albino Luciani and by his holy death. Grace is necessary to feel it and to be penetrated by this truth to the point of being converted oneself and to begin praying that the Church be cured of it and that through the Church poverty may again flourish in this corrupt and ruined world. Yes, poverty “real as well as in the heart” – a primordial Gospel virtue. Let each one begin by reforming himself. I confess in all simplicity that it was a gentle light, a white light, that came to me, and for myself in the first place, through a careful and repeated reading of the English journalist’s book.
I shall no longer say with Dostoyevsky: Beauty will save the world. Nor will I say with Maurras: Monarchy will save the world. Nor shall I even say, as I have myself so often thought and repeated: Faith will save the world. Now I see in the sweet light of the first martyr pope of the modern capitalist era: it is through Poverty that a purified Roman Church will save the world.
That is the true last Will and Testament of John Paul I. Paul VI’s testament was a literary exercise of subtle and distinguished humanism that any pagan anxious to leave behind him a reputation for aestheticism could have written. One day, Albino Luciani’s brother «spoke with great enthusiasm about Paul VI’s Will. “My Will is of another tone and less weighty”, said Papa Luciani. Then indicating a small gap between his index finger and thumb, he said, “Mine is like this”.» Cardinal Villot made this testament vanish also. But we know the tenor of the wills he had made at other stages of his life: A poor man, who stayed poor, he left all his poor belongings to the Church.
His spiritual testament is the image of his material Will. But martyrdom elevates and enhances this lesson to such an extent that we must now apply ourselves to extricating it from all doubtful information and contradictory allegations, because another pope, perhaps soon, will have to put this spiritual testament of the holy pope into effect, namely to undertake and through Christ’s grace to carry through to the end the true reform of the Church for the salvation of the world.
BEYOND THE LEFT AND THE RIGHT OF THIS WORLD
Who was he then? What did he want? What did he see in the light of holiness, this man whom God called to the supreme witness of a violent death, suffered for love of the poor, of the little and of the humble, these Christifideles, these ordinary faithful Catholics whose pastor and father he loved to be, the Holy Father?
We need to distinguish the true moral portrait of Pope Luciani, whom I believe David Yallop has deeply understood, from the prejudices and obsessions of the same Yallop which, in his book, distort the portrait. He superimposes his prejudices and makes them part of his portrait of the Pope to the point where we, the people of the right at least, find him unrecognisable and repellent. Yallop probably did this in order to make his saint pleasing to the people of the Left...
But enough is enough. I know that many readers have been put off by Yallop’s prejudices, and, in the light of his flagrant incompetence in theological and ecclesiastical matters, have been led to doubt his proven seriousness as a criminal investigator. We need, therefore, to clean his portrait of John Paul I from all its superfluities, garish colouring and leftist gloss. The dualism involved in the “grill of marxist analysis” is of such simplicity that its system is easily distinguishable from the living material it exploits. The same is true of Yallop.
For him, the “Right” has always been dominant in the Vatican, up to and including Paul VI and John Paul II, popes of the right! Intolerant in doctrine, narrow-minded in morality, alarmingly rigorous in sexual matters and reactionary in politics, the Right is essentially bourgeois and capitalist. The popes, who for the most part are of the Right, will therefore always and unconditionally support international plutocracy, colonialist and neocolonialist empires and military dictatorships. Just as they have always been their accomplices, proved by their concordats with Hitler and Mussolini!
The “Left” on the other hand, is anti-capitalist, anti-colonialist, anti-fascist, the enemy of all segregation, of all prohibition, of all intolerance and of all fanaticism. It is democratic. It is for the contraceptive pill. For Yallop, that is essential. This so sympathetic Left has never come to supreme power in the Church except for very brief periods only to be trampled on, rejected and anathematized by the Right. It emerged from a long tunnel with John XXIII and the Council. But it was condemned to a further crushing under Paul VI, the Pope of Humanae Vitae! It shone with marvellous brilliance with John Paul I who showed the world what a saint of the Left was like. But it only lasted for 33 days. The Right assassinated him and with John Paul II the Church has returned to her vomit. John Paul II is the enthusiastic heir of Paul VI and his Humanae Vitae. «On a disaster scale for the Roman Catholic Church it measures higher than the treatment of Galileo in the seventeenth century or the declaration of Papal Infallibility in the nineteenth.»
Such insanities are enough to deter one from continuing with the book. And yet, if we set aside the leftist clichés, we see in this book the authentic and perhaps hitherto unknown portrait of an «unclassifiable» pope. «Some considered that he revealed a nostalgia for the past rather than a desire for change. Some labelled him to the right, others to the left.» Might it not be that John Paul I has something to teach all of us, people of the left as well as those of the right, something we have to take to heart in the wake of his shattering death, as though coming from Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself? Let us try to understand so that one day we can put into practice these “crumbs” of evangelical wisdom from this other Saint Pius X.
JOHN PAUL I, A MAN OF THE TROUBLED RIGHT
Albino Luciani was born poor, as was Saint Pius X, in this same Venetia, where the future John XXIII, also of a poor family, would be born. David Yallop is right to begin by emphasising the great poverty of the poor in «the first fourteen years of this century, considered by many Europeans to have been a golden age.» It prepared the way for two sensibilities, two different conceptions of existence: those who were blind to the wretchedness of the poor, and those who were marked by it for life. Albino Luciani was the son of the devout Bortola and of the courageous worker Giovanni Luciani, a seasonal emigrant, a socialist and an anticlerical. Yet it was he who «gave his permission and accepted the added burden» of his son Albino’s entry into the minor seminary at the age of eleven, with the words, «Well, we must make this sacrifice.»
David Yallop’s account, when decoded from its marxist analysis, is correct and highly revealing even in its most detestable early pages. He tells how the spirit of Pius IX’s Syllabus still reigned in the seminaries of the period when Luciani was doing his studies, between 1923-1935. «An internal war was raging within the Roman Catholic Church.» «After Pius IX came Leo XIII, considered by many historians to have been an enlightened and humane man. He was followed by Pius X, thought by many of the same historians to have been a total disaster. He reigned until 1914 and the damage he did was still very evident when Albino Luciani entered the Feltre seminary.»
Decoded, it means that the future John Paul I’s earliest formation and consequently his deepest and practically ineradicable convictions were and remained what the holy popes Pius IX and Pius X taught best and imposed on the universal Church by their infallible magisterium, by the firmness of their authority or rather by the simple attraction of their undoubted holiness and the charm of a supernatural goodness. Yallop rages against it:
«Albino Luciani’s generation of priests had to cope with the full force of the Syllabus of Errors and anti-modernism mentality. Luciani himself might easily have become, under such dominant influences, yet another priest with a closed mind. A variety of factors saved him from that fate. Not the least was a simple but great gift, a thirst for knowledge.» In vain does Yallop mislead us. «He was always amiable, quiet, serene, relates one of his contemporaries at the major seminary of Belluno, unless you stated something that was inaccurate, then he was like a spring. I learned that in front of him one had to speak carefully. Any muddled thinking and you were in danger with him.» It was obviously a question of defending the faith against the obscure and guarded language of the modernists.
Yallop is less and less pleased with his saint. For the latter unreservedly adopted the classical doctrine, as it was still in 1930, of the Syllabus in the matter of religious liberty, which he summarizes very badly, whereby «the toleration of a non-Catholic opinion was inconceivable (toleration? he is wrong there)... Error had no rights (indeed, no rights). The exception apparently was if it was the teacher who was in error, then its rights were absolute.» The grating humour of our English liberal – even though it reveals his ignorance of the problem, in particular of the distinction between a social right being refused to error and tolerance being accorded to those misled by error in order to preserve peace and the common good – serves all the better to testify to what extent Luciani was still in 1930 a fierce conservative and integral Catholic.
«Luciani’s vision, far from being expanded by his teachers, began, in certain respects to shrink.» Ah! «In 1937 Luciani was appointed Vice-Rector at his old Seminary in Belluno. The content of his teaching at this time differed little from that of his own tutors.» But his manner of presenting it was better. «He lifted what was often dull and tedious theology to something fresh and memorable.» Still not a word that allows one to attribute to him the least trace of liberalism or modernism.
«In 1941, Luciani chose for his doctor of theology thesis “The origin of the human soul according to Antonio Rosmini”.» There is a whiff of the stake about Rosmini. So, what about Luciani? Alas, it is disillusioning. The present professors of the Gregorian University had little good to say about it to the journalist. «One described it to me as “a competent piece of work”. Another said, “In my opinion it is worthless. It shows extreme conservatism and also lacks scholarly method.”
«Many would say that Luciani’ s interest in and involvement with the works of Rosmini were clear indications of his liberal thinking. The Albino Luciani of the 1940s was far from being a liberal. His thesis attempts (sic!) to refute Rosmini on each point. He attacks the nineteenth-century theologian for using second-hand and incorrect quotations, for his superficiality, for “ingenious cleverness”. It is a scathing demolition job and a clear indication of a reactionary mind.»
He was a traditionalist faithful to Pius IX’s Syllabus and to St Pius X’s encyclical Pascendi, a conservative brought up on St Thomas whom he preferred a hundred times to Rosmini, a vigorous reactionary. Such was the future John Paul I still in 1958. And with it «he was one of the best teachers the Church has had in this century. He had the simplicity of thought that comes only to the highly intelligent, and added to this was a genuine, deep humility.» This admirable portrait calls to mind Giuseppe Sarto, and the career of the one, as we know, follows closely that of the other. There is every reason to think that John Paul I would have been another St Pius X in the storm of a new modernism, had not the Second Vatican Council gravely disturbed him and “side-tracked” his mind which hitherto had been straight and firm.
Yallop relates the same fact that I myself have often related, because it is of the utmost importance. It is the same because it is unique of its kind. The incident is the only time the young bishop of Vittorio Veneto – he was fifty years old at the opening of the Council – yielded to the new spirit that captivated the majority of the Council under the impetus of Paul VI. Yallop presents it thus: «Luciani also experienced during the Council his own road to Damascus. It was the Council’s declaration “On Religious Freedom”.»
«Others were less impressed with this new way of looking at an old problem. Men like Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, who controlled the Holy Office, were determined to wreck not only the concept of tolerance that was implicit in “On Religious Freedom” (that is absolutely false, but this falsification of the traditional doctrine is necessary in order to introduce the heresy from the left), they were fighting a bitter rearguard action against anything that smacked of what Pius X at the beginning of the century had termed “modernism” (that is absolutely true, so why present it here as though it were some shameful plot?).
«This was the generation which had taught Luciani in the Belluno seminary that religious “freedom” was confined to Roman Catholics (that is correct, and perfectly true). “Error has no rights” (that is plain, and what is more, it is the infallible teaching of the Church!). Luciani in turn had taught his own pupils this same appalling doctrine (appalling for the Jesuit theologians of the Gregorian whom Yallop imprudently consulted). Now at the Second Vatican Council he listened with growing wonder as bishop after bishop challenged the concept.
(We are witnessing here a gripping drama of conscience, that of a bishop amid the collapse of the Catholic faith, amid the general collapse of an entire episcopal body, of a Council affected by this itch for novelty, modernity and worldliness. Others rose up against it. Conscious of his own littleness, he gave way to self doubt...)
«When Luciani considered the arguments for and against he was over fifty years of age. His response was typical of this prudent man of the mountains. He discussed the problem with others, he withdrew into thought, he concluded that the “error” had been in the concept he had been taught.»
It could not be better put: the error did not reside in what he had been taught as the infallible teaching of the Church of all time, but in the way of expressing it. He wanted to think, and he succeeded somehow or other in thinking, that it was only a question of words. Thus he thought it possible to reconcile obedience to the Pope and to the Council of the day with fidelity to the faith of all time. He was led by humility to prefer the judgement of others to his own. After the Acts of the Council had been regularly promulgated by Paul VI, he applied himself to understanding them and assimilating them fervently and uncritically. He began to «totally absorb Vatican Council II. He had the Council in his blood. He knew the documents by heart. Further, he implemented the documents.» These are the emphatic words of Monsignor Ghizzo, who worked with him.
Yallop relates an episode which I did not know and which I place in the same line as the above. «When Luciani was made Cardinal he was aware that Ottaviani and other Curial reactionaries, far from demonstrating total obedience, were in fact involved in a long, acrimonious argument with the Pope (we would love to know what the argument was about and when it took place). They were quite simply (!) trying to destroy any good that had flowed from the historic Vatican Council II series of meetings (how vague!). Called upon to make a speech in front of not only the other new cardinals and the Pope but also Ottaviani and his clique, Albino Luciani observed, “Vatican Council I has many followers and so has Vatican Council III. Vatican Council II, however, has far too few”.»
He wanted to obey and to follow the Pope and the Council, without allowing himself or anyone else to reject it or overstep it. «Neither to the left nor the right, he refused to become involved with the warring factions in Rome.» But during some subversive agitation when a referendum was being held on divorce and the FUCI were advocating a free vote on the grounds that such was the conciliar doctrine on the right to freedom, he strongly expressed his disapproval. «To use the Council in such a way was to Luciani a perversion of Church teaching.... Error might well have rights in the modern Church but in Venice 1974 for Luciani there was still a limitation to those rights»! He would not accept that the Council’s teaching could be used as «a plea that the Church take a liberal view on divorce for the sake of expediency.» He therefore disbanded the FUCI group by «simply removing the priest who was advising the student group.» This authoritarian response passed for «yet another example of the bigotry of the Catholic hierarchy».
«Obviously his beloved Vatican Council II teachings, like the Bible, could be taken to prove and justify any position.» He himself remained firstly and absolutely Catholic; he was only additionally conciliar and to the extent that his conscience allowed. I think I have sufficiently proved this in the conference I gave on 2 November 1978 (English CRC 107), From Paul VI to John Paul II, Homage to John Paul I (p. 10-19).
As for his sympathy with Hans Kung, that is an invention of Yallop’s, or else Kung is boasting. He read Kung in the original German with his pen in hand, personally refuting him with the utmost severity. This is what Boisdeffre caught him doing, as he relates in Le Monde for 2 September 1978. «I read him to sharpen my wits, he said, but I shan’t bother to refute him.» At that time he was only the modest Archbishop of Venice. Defending the Catholic faith against an heresiarch of international dimension is something that belongs to the Holy See alone. But no doubt Kung lost nothing in the waiting.
In conclusion, Pope John Paul I was as solid as a rock on doctrine. The only difficulty he had had under Paul VI was in reconciling his faith with his obedience to the Pope: «Luciani’s own dilemma was that he was committed to an unswerving obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff.» It was this very servitude that he was led to exaggerate through modesty, but it would come to an end with his elevation to Supreme Authority. Then we would begin to hope for everything from Him, when at last he had come back to himself.
« WITH THE POOR (NOT ON THE LEFT) »
Because he was from a poor family and the son of a militant socialist, the media never ceased presenting him as a man of the left from the day of his election. And that is how Yallop still sees him. In what does the leftist perspective of this doctrinarian of the right consist? In what sense can an ecclesiastic so firm in the faith be a progressivist fellow-traveller in action and pass for a revolutionary, when his entire thinking moves in the eternal? Let us consult Yallop.
The first surprise. Young Albino Luciani, as a seminarian, was a man of the left as was Pius IX! Yes, Pius IX who wished to make a cardinal of one who was generally presented as a Lamennais, the first Italian revolutionary priest, Rosmini. This is the first setback for an over-simplified dualism between a right-wing that preserves the established order and a left-wing consumed with love of social justice and freedom. Let us read carefully:
In 1923, therefore, «internal war was raging within the Roman Catholic Church... Books such as Antonio Rosmini’s The Five Wounds of the Church were banned. Rosmini, an Italian theologian and priest, had written in 1848 that the Church faced a crisis of five evils: social remoteness of the clergy from the people; the low standard of education of the priests; disunity and acrimony among the bishops; the dependence of lay appointments (surely he means clerical?) on secular authorities; and Church ownership of property and enslavement to wealth. Rosmini had hoped for liberalising reform. What he got, largely as a result of Jesuit intrigue, was the condemnation of his book and the withdrawal of the Cardinal’s hat which Pius IX had offered him.»
So Rosmini wanted to see the Church poorer, her senior clergy less absorbed in the administration of financial wealth and less greedy for riches, the total independence of ecclesiastical nominations from temporal power, and, thus liberated, the episcopate restoring the sacerdotal state and awakening the apostolic zeal of priests towards their poor people, instead of confining themselves to a ministry directed towards the traditional circles of the aristocracy and the middle classes.
If that is what it means to be a man of the left, then Pius VIII, Gregory XVI and Pius IX were also men of the left, for they all protected Rosmini. Especially Pius IX who cancelled the ban of the Index prohibiting his two reforming works, The Constitution according to Social Justice and The Five Wounds of the Church by a sentence of Dimittantur, that is to say, of acquittal (DTC, Rosmini, col. 2929). No doubt, he was not liked by the Secretary of State, Antonelli. Antonelli was to Pius IX more or less what Villot was to John Paul I. The Church did not condemn Rosmini the pastor, the founder of a religious order and the reformer; it was the bad philosopher in him, the rationalist and the pantheist that the Church condemned, and it is precisely this side of Rosmini which the young Doctor of Theology, Albino Luciani, was to criticize fifty years later in line with the Catholic magisterium.
It is quite clear, therefore, although disconcerting for the conservative and liberal right as well as for the revolutionary left. Since 1789, and even more so since 1830, there has been a reforming current in the Church, where saints have met, some from the political right and others from the liberal even utopian left. They have called on the Pope and the bishops to disassociate and entirely separate themselves from desacralized temporal powers which had become essentially plutocratic, exploiting the people, corrupt and corrupting, anticlerical, protestant or atheist, and freemason to boot. Pius VIII, Gregory XVI and Pius IX were among their number. And so was Pius X! Albino Luciani who «quietly acquired his own copy of the Five Wounds of the Church», a book that remained on the Index of Forbidden Books, was only doing his duty as a student. This book «was to have a deep and lasting influence upon his life.» Yes indeed, and we know that he even died because of it. And yet, there is still nothing revolutionary here.
However, this critical thinking in regard to the established order – the thinking of the left? – had nothing revolutionary about it in the minds of Pius IX and of Pius X. Nor was it revolutionary in the soul of the young Luciani who accepted all of Pius IX and the Syllabus in particular wherein «the Papacy denounced unrestricted liberty of speech and the freedom of press comment. The concept of equal status for all religions was totally rejected. He also made it clear that he disliked intensely the concept of democratic government and that his preference was for absolute monarchies. He further denounced “the proponents of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion” as well as “all of those who assert that the Church may not use force”.»
Thus Yallop is brought by his hero to remind his liberal, capitalist, right-wing reader of the existence of another Right, a better Right, one that is wholly Catholic, zealous in religion, ardently demophile and boldly social, which might appear to him to be leftist when in fact it is not. And he also reminds his revolutionary leftist reader that the work of social justice he calls for has made much greater progress through this sensible, Catholic Right, disinterested and courageous to the point of heroism, than through all the demagogic and subversive politics of the Left.
Pius IX misunderstood... Saint Pius X loathed... and John Paul I poisoned – they are of the party of true Church reform, treated as leftist by the old capitalist and masonic right and as reactionary and integrist by the revolutionary socialo-communist left. Those who have understood this are very rare indeed, even amongst ourselves. Yet this is what Maurras so fully and clearly elucidated in the good times of Pius X.
In 1947, having become Vicar General of Belluno, «the increase in responsibility coincided with a broadening outlook, Yallop informs us. While still unable to come to terms with Rosmini’s “Origins of the Soul” (I should hope not!), Luciani had begun (?) to appreciate and agree with Rosmini’s view of what ailed the Church. The fact that the same problems still obtained a hundred years later made the factors of social remoteness , an uneducated priesthood, disunion among bishops, the unhealthy interlocking of power between Church and State and most of all the Church’s preoccupation with material wealth, even more pertinent.»
Yallop attempts to situate Luciani’s attraction for the evangelical counsels and his unease at seeing the imperfections of the men of the Church within an imaginary evolution of his Saint, as though he were converting from the reactionary positions of the integrist right to the leftist positions he insists on attributing to him to the end. But there was no such evolution.
At every stage of his career, Albino Luciani was – like Saint Pius X and in accordance with his example – very pious, very good, very devout, very humble, very gentle, finally very poor and absolutely inimical to money. When, therefore, Yallop says of Luciani, «he practised a form of democracy that was at that time extremely rare within the Church», he is abusing language in a way already condemned by Leo XIII in 1901. What Luciani did at Vittorio Veneto in 1962 to honour the 2 billion lire debt contracted by two priests of his diocese through mad speculation at the expense of small savers, is what any upright honest bishop would have done.
His distrust of gifts of large sums of money is something we find in all the saints. So is his detestation of excessive expenditure and a rich life style, which he did not criticize in others but which he humbly refused for himself. As is also his detestation for all harshness, even when legal, in business matters and all exploitation or contempt of the poor. Equally admirable characteristics are to be found in the life of Saint Pius X. His proclaimed “leftism” shows even more when he announces his intention of busying himself more with the industrial areas of Mestre and Marghera, the suburbs of Venice, rather than with the old aristocratic and touristic city. There is nothing revolutionary in that, or else it is the pure “Gospel revolution” which is neither political nor social but apostolic and charitable.
«This is the other Venice, Luciani observed, with few monuments but so many factories, houses, spiritual problems, souls...» That is the word: he was concerned for souls, for every soul regardless of safety deposit box or bank account. And here too, he was also concerned to preserve the simple people and the clergy, the traditional clients of the Banca Cattolica del Veneto, from extortion. It was in defence of the little property of these poor people that he became involved in the big business – swindling would be a better word – of the Vatican Bank.
From one thing to another, it was a whole conception of life, very traditional among the saints, but very new for politicians both ecclesiastical and secular. He was quite clear about it in his own mind and it showed in his deeds and his teaching. He had twinned Vittorio Veneto with the diocese of Kiremba in Burundi. There, «he was brought face to face with the Third World. Nearly 70 per cent of the country's three-and-a-quarter million people were Roman Catholics. The faith was flourishing, but so were poverty, disease, a high infant mortality rate and civil war. Churches were full, bellies were empty.» Yallop ascribes this appeal of the countries of the Third World to the Council, which supposedly «blinded the old Curial Palace Guard in Rome» while «Luciani and others like him were being illuminated by it.»
So he insists! But the «option for the poor» advocated by the leading lights of the Council was all demagoguy and illusion. Luciani was not a dreamer, and that is why his realistic proposition of a «one per cent» from the more fortunate churches to those of poor countries, considered as a due and not as a charitable gift, was not heeded by the Synod held in 1971. The reasons he gave for his proposition will appear to the complacent people of the right to be marked with revolutionary leftism. But for sincere people his reasoning gives food for thought:
«This one per cent should be called the “brothers’ share” and should not be given as charity, but as something that is owed, to compensate for the injustices being committed by our consumer world against the developing world, and to make up in some way for social sin, of which we should all be aware.»
Who would dare deny that the universal – even soviet! – mercantilism that has succeeded colonization does not constitute an immense and crying injustice on the part of the capitalo-socialist States, a «social sin»? Alas, Luciani advocated giving the sums thus collected to «Vatican aid organizations». He was soon to discover that the sin of savage capitalism was the same there, in Rome, and that before taking a stand against the sin of the world it would first be necessary to remedy the sin of the Church...
After this, you can read the pages where David Yallop presents the social ideas of Albino Luciani become Pope. It reads like a series of paradoxes. At least that is how I think people of the complacent right and the convinced left will read it. By complacent people of the right I understand the wealthy who are happy to be rich and are determined to remain so. And by convinced leftists I mean the dispossessed, those who are less or not at all well off, frustrated at not being rich and determined to become so by every means possible.
John Paul I loved poverty for itself and, what is even rarer, practised it. He also loved the poor and did not desire riches for them nor did he talk to them of the means to become rich. But he suffered for them and wanted the Church to practise evangelical charity in their regard. He wanted the Church to set an example, sometimes as spectacularly as the saints in olden times were not afraid to do – that is in the times before liberal capitalism and revolutionary socialism.
It is against this background of evangelical life that his economic and political views are to be understood. For many of the faithful of one-sided convictions those views are shocking... One example: his marked distrust, hostility even, for the dictators of Latin America scandalizes us. But who amongst us, thinking only of Pinochet saving his country from bolshevism, realizes that for every one like him there are twenty other dictators wholly subject to freemasonry and capitalism and who for two centuries have crushed the peoples and persecuted the Church’s apostolic forces in this vast continent?
In the difficult “problems” of our times, “God’s candidate”, like his holy predecessors Gregory XVI, Pius IX and Pius X, intended to trace the Church’s path along the straight line of the pure Gospel, as far removed from an enslaving and inhuman so-called right as from a so-called humanist and justice-loving left. And it gives me much to think about when I consider the choice made in our Saint’s heart for Paul VI’s successor: Cardinal Lorscheider, Archbishop of Fortaleza in Brazil.
«Lorscheider was widely regarded as a man possessed of one of the best minds in the modern Church. During his years in Venice, Luciani had come to know him well and as he confided to Senigaglia, “He is a man of faith and culture... Most important of all, his heart and mind are with the poor.”
«Apart from their meetings in Italy, Yallop relates, Luciani had spent a month with Lorscheider in Brazil in 1975. They had conversed in a variety of languages and discovered they had much in common. What was unknown to Luciani was the high regard that Lorscheider had for him. Lorscheider was later to observe of that month in Brazil, “On that occasion many people hazarded the guess that one day the Patriarch of Venice could become Pope”.»
We therefore narrowly missed seeing that famous “third way” which everyone speaks about but of which no one has any clear idea, the way between the East and the West, between capitalism and socialism, or rather beyond them. It is the way of the Gospel, the Catholic way. It is the way that a Pope Luciani (or Lorscheider) would have been capable of showing forth in his own person, then in the internal life of the Church, and then in human society generally. Its principle is to live for God, in contempt of money. Its long term work is to create religious, political and ecological institutions capable of restoring social justice and perfecting it through Christian charity without in any way yielding to the “institutional violence” of masonic plutocracy on the one hand or to the “insurrectional violence” of socialism or communism on the other. All we saw of it was but the flash of a light quickly extinguished. And now the Church is continuing her mediocre path, confounded with all the humanitarian organizations cluttering up the planet, a capitalo-socialist path alternating from one country to another, and from one revolution to another, between the idolatry of Money, the cult of the established order and the frenzy of consumerism on one hand, and the idolatry of the State, the exaltation of the masses and the frenzy of collectivism on the other.
So who will one day give us that exceptional being capable of wresting the nations from an unjust and corrupting capitalism without at the same time throwing them into a tight-fisted and persecuting socialism? God gave us this exceptional being in the person of holy Pope John Paul I. The proof? «A few days before the Conclave (of August 1978), Giancarlo Zizola – who had interviewed Albino Luciani in depth nine years earlier – wrote a dismissive little biography entitled “With the poor (not on the left)”.» Dismissive? Maybe for David Yallop whose only interest in the poor is “on the left”. But for us it is admirably convincing by reason of its title alone: With the poor (not on the left).
That is exactly the way of Jesus Christ, it is the way of the Church, the way of mankind’s salvation. With St Vincent de Paul, not with Camillo Torres. Let us just add – as I am sure our most faithful readers and friends will allow – that it was also the way of Catholic Legitimism in the 19th century, it was the way of Charles Maurras’ Action Française, and it is still our way...
BUT THE PILL?
Ah! the pill.... Let us talk about that. Many of Yallop’s readers were totally surprised and so scandalized by the hypothesis of a John Paul I in favour of artificial methods of “birth control” that people of the right turned against him. Against Yallop, that is, for inventing such insanities. Or else, against John Paul I himself, classifying him among the liberal and immoral left.
But the quotation from Zizola leaves us with completely the opposite opinion: «The least one can say is that he is now the recognized leader of the ecclesiastical right, a kind of Venetian replica of Cardinal Ottaviani.» So?
So this question is much more complicated than it appears to the public at large. What could be more simple than to answer the problem of the morality of the contraceptive pill with a straightforward yes or no. In fact a whole series of misunderstandings, orchestrated uproar, clumsy and regrettable initiatives took place, impossible to number here, but which Yallop turns to his advantage to make them part and parcel of his criminal investigation. It is a question of major importance to Yallop, and he makes a big thing of it, dealing with it in accordance with his simplified dualism. For him, the people of the left are as generous in their moral judgements as they are in their ideas. They are democratic, benevolent, impartial and therefore broadminded and comprehensive in matters of morality. Thus John Paul I. The people of the right, on the other hand, are as intractable over morality as they are over dogma; in matters of morality they are rigorist, authoritarian and inhuman. Thus Pius XI, Pius XII, Paul VI, John Paul II... and the horrible Cardinal Villot? Carrying this theme to absurdity, he constructs a scenario with Villot as the Pope’s assassin, for reasons of divergence over this point.
In fact, however, leftist doctrinaires are generally as implacable in matters of morality as they are “generous” in their ideas. Every utopian, the disciple of Rousseau, finds himself emulating Robespierre. In order to raise the human race to the dignity they expect of it, they are ruthless towards the baseness of humanity’s morals. The great thinkers of the right, however, have no illusions about human nature nor do they dream of utopia. They, therefore, apply themselves to the organization of the earthly city and to the direction of souls towards their eternal salvation with a benevolence and an understanding in matters of morality that is astounding.
Let us come to the protagonists of the drama. In the first place, I think that Villot was completely indifferent to the problem of the pill. Yallop has harmed his own credibility by pumping up this story to offset his gripping financial and detective investigation. As for classifying Paul VI and John Paul II as though they were of the Right, that is a total error. They are of the Left because of what is closest to their heart, their utopia of a “civilization of love” to be promoted here and now, a utopia where all is limitless freedom, dignity, responsibility and self-expression “for every man and all men.” Such a utopia was bound to enjoin the highest moral demands, matching the grandeur of their idea of Man. And no sparing of the horses!
Let us enter now into the curious thinking of these two popes. Paul VI, more a demagogue than a utopian, posed himself the abstract question of whether artificial means of contraception were contrary to the natural moral law. At the end of three years, he was still none the wiser. He consulted masses of people, but all in vain. The yes and the no were so well balanced in his Hamlet-like mind that he remained totally undecided. When at last he was forced to answer, he pronounced that absolute condemnation, that terrible “no” which contradicted his years of uncertainty. The world was waiting for his oracle as people wait for the results of bets placed on Saturday afternoon. Heads or tails? It was heads, and so all the illusions cultivated about the Church, the Council and the Pope were shattered in one go. So much so that the whole of morality and religion were up for questioning. It was these that were now supposed to change! Yallop is right. It was catastrophic.
John Paul II, more of a utopian than a demagogue, enthusiastically applauded Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae. He, in fact, places love on such a high plane that he neglects its carnal demands and goes to the extreme of regarding even a man’s desire for his own wife as sinful! In a lofty representation of that kind there is no problem, even if difficulties remain for common couples: the reason for taking the pill disappears. John Paul II is grateful to Paul VI for having so well defended pure love against all unworthy counterfeits. The ban on the pill protects pure love against being degraded to a love that is brutal, instinctive and overriding. Every Wednesday for years now John Paul II has been describing the pleasures of a truly human and personalist love, inviting the whole world to share in it, demonstrating at the same time that such love fits in well with natural methods of birth control. It is able to hold back on the forbidden days.
It is against such a background that our dear John Paul I, a man of doctrine, a man of the right and therefore as far removed from utopianism as from demagogy, knowing his flock and condescending to their wretchedness, was unable, except through obedience and death in his soul, to enter into this stupid, worldly, yes-or-no bet on the pill as the panacea to all conjugal troubles, which the Pope was – o terrible suspense! – either going to authorize or forbid for hundreds of millions of couples. He could foresee the hue and outcry that would follow any but a liberating decision, together with its baneful consequences.
Was he in favour of the contraceptive pill, as Yallop bluntly affirms? I very much doubt it. But as a good moralist, he felt bound to examine the very complex problems of intention and circumstance. Only the publication of his report to Pope Paul VI on this subject of “conjugal ethics” would enable us to know his exact position. Above all, he was anxious, as we were at the time, to begin by placing this thorny question in the context of the Church’s entire religious and moral doctrine, just as he was equally anxious to see the answer to it find its place in the fullness of the sacramental and supernatural life of Christians. Outside that context, a proclamation via the media to millions of indifferent modern pagans that the pill was banned would make the entire planet bristle with hatred and contempt. And again, outside that context, such an announcement banning the pill made to lukewarm Catholics, incited by the conciliar Church to am intense, obsessive and totally unrestrained love life, could only provoke them to abandoning the sacraments, to indifference concerning the state of grace and, before long, to forgetting God altogether. The masses cannot be thrown into a state of perpetual lust without impunity. To incite their lust and then to forbid them the indispensable contraceptive or abortive complement is derisory. O foolish clergy! You cannot forbid the one without forbidding the other.
You may or may not read Yallop’s irritating though enlightening pages on this subject. I shall simply content myself with reproducing a text from John Paul I himself. It will shock the doctrinaires. To moralists, it will sound like profound wisdom. But any reader will be made to feel that its author has the soul and the heart of a priest and a father. It is Evangelical.
«1. It is easier today, given the confusion caused by the press, to find married persons who do not believe that they are sinning. If this should happen it may be opportune, under the usual conditions, not to disturb them.
«2. Towards the penitent onanist, who shows himself to be both penitent and discouraged, it is opportune to use encouraging kindness, within the limits of pastoral prudence.
«3. Let us pray that the Lord may help the Pope to resolve this question. There has never perhaps been such a difficult question for the Church: both for the intrinsic difficulties and for the numerous implications affecting other problems, and for the acute way in which it is felt by the vast mass of the people.»
Humanae Vitae was published on 25 July 1968, a few months after these wise, prudent and beneficent observations were made by the holy Bishop of Vittorio Veneto. It is obvious that the latter will adhere to Pope Paul VI’s decision. But he always recoiled from making it the object of public teaching, as though it were a law of such importance that it had to be placed on the highest level of his pastoral concern and had to be applied by each and everyone immediately without any other consideration. In a climate of relaxed morality and religious indifference, such a prohibition could not but appear shocking to all the recycled Christians, and crushing for them to put into practice without further ado. Whence certain surprising considerations: «We have made of sex the only sin when in fact it is linked to human weakness and frailty and is therefore perhaps the least of sins.» Not to be taken out of context!
He would have preferred the Magisterium to modulate the expression, the promulgation and application of this ban. So would we. For what is involved is none other than “casuistry”, that marvel of human and supernatural wisdom, thanks to which laws do not crush souls, but enlighten and strengthen them. He knew where he wanted to lead his people, and he intended to lead them there “with cords of humanity”. But do not ask utopians and demagogues to condescend to casuistry!
For the rest, the immense problem confronting humanity today, of a calamitous fall in the birth rate in one part of the world and galloping overpopulation in the other, was something that preoccupied John Paul I. To oblige millions of children to be born out of respect for a natural law strictly applied, to keep them alive by means of a scientific struggle against mortality, only to leave them to die in a famine with no hope other than an appalling life... The Americans, become the tutors and food suppliers to the Third World are seeing to this problem. Their remedy is sterilization and contraception practised on a vast scale. It is well to condemn them. Even so, we ought to help them to save peoples from famine or else find practicable moral solutions for them. John Paul I did not think it was all that simple.
Such was the wisdom of the one who, we are entitled to think would have been the greatest pope of our century, the most beneficent pope for a world in perdition, since Saint Pius X. But they killed him!