Monday, April 30, 2012

This Back To The Future Story Is One Reason Today Is More Of The Same

I can't help but wonder what would have happened had John Paul I not given way to John Paul II so soon after he was elected.  It is easy for me to believe the Holy Spirit was involved in the election of the man on the left, but all too human folks were involved with the man on the right.

This is another story I've been following that has recently popped up more in Europe than in the States.  From the Irish Independent, it deals with a thirty year old kidnapping/murder of a 13 year old daughter of a Vatican employee, the burial of a Mafia Don in a Basilica in Rome, rumors of massive bribes, and Mafia entanglement with the Vatican Bank.  I can easily imagine another Dan Brown novel written about this period of Vatican history.  Thirty years ago coincides with the Banco Ambrosiano scandal under JPII,  It is perhaps the sleazy story cited below which has motivated Pope Benedict to convene his committee of three octogenarian cardinals to deal with all the leaks springing out of all kinds of Vatican dikes.

Vatican 'accepted one billion lire' to bury crime boss in basilica next to former popes

 Michael Day - Irish Indepent - 4/30/2012
The Vatican is facing a deepening controversy over the burial 22 years ago of a notorious crime boss, with reports emerging that the church accepted a one billion lire (£407,000) payment from the mobster's widow to allow his interment in a basilica.

A source at the Holy See told the Ansa news agency that "despite initial reluctance" the then vicar-general of Rome, Cardinal Ugo Poletti, "in the face of such a conspicuous sum, gave his blessing" to the controversial interment of Enrico De Pedis, the former boss of Rome's notorious Magliana gang. The money was reportedly used on missions and to restore the Basilica of St Apollinare, where the mobster was laid to rest next to popes and cardinals after his death in 1990. (Isn't this a nice Roman way to describe the proper way for a Roman Catholic Cardinal to take a bribe?)

The claims, which the Vatican has not commented on, may explain how such a reviled criminal was buried in such a hallowed site. Last week, to deflect growing criticism and to help resolve a 30-year-old murder mystery, it emerged that Vatican officials had decided to move the remains of De Pedis from his special crypt.

Pressure mounted earlier this month when a prosecuting magistrate, Giancarlo Capaldo, claimed senior officials at the Vatican knew much more than they were letting on about the Magliana gang's links to the Holy See, and the gang's suspected kidnap and murder of Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican official, in 1983. "There are people still alive, and still inside the Vatican, who know the truth," he said. Some believe Emanuela's father had evidence linking the Vatican Bank, Istituto per le Opere di Religione, to organised crime, and that she was snatched to keep him silent. The theory is that De Pedis, who was shot dead in 1990, organised the kidnapping. (Perhaps one of these who are still alive and know the truth have been appointed to Benedicts' truth commission.)

For the past two decades, there has been speculation that Emanuela's remains were put in the tomb alongside De Pedis. The girl's brother, Pietro Orlandi, has joined those calling for the tomb to be opened.
The Vatican – under heavy scrutiny after a set of scandals – denies the claims and has hinted that investigators will be able to witness the re-opening of the crypt, in a bid to quash the rumours. "It seems that nothing has been concealed and there are no Vatican secrets to reveal," said a spokesman for Vatican, Father Federico Lombardi. (If you believe this, Fr Lombardi has another crypt in another basilica to sell you.)

It is likely that the body of De Pedis will be moved to a less high-profile place of rest. The location may be decided at an upcoming meeting. Even if the girl's remains are not found in the crypt, the mystery surrounding her disappearance will remain.

Other theories surrounding her fate are not in short supply. One, more palatable for the Vatican, suggests that Magliana gang members snatched her at the behest of Turkish extremists, who wanted to use her as a bargaining tool to win the release of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981. (Seriously, Dan Brown has a story here.)

But others have implicated Paul Marcinkus, the disgraced and deceased former head of the Vatican bank, which was involved in the bankruptcy of Italy's largest private bank, the Banco Ambrosiano, in 1982.
Soon after the news of the scandal became public, the president of Banco Ambrosiano, Roberto Calvi, was found hanging beneath Blackfriars Bridge in London. (Or maybe Dan Brown could follow this angle, after all Paul Marcinkus came to the Vatican from the Chicago clergy........)


I think my mind still has a tough time dealing with all the corruption in an Institution my poor brain has been entrained to think of as Holy.  The enormous amount of cognitive dissonance I still contend with too often resolves itself by using macabre humor.  None of the above is funny.  It is sickening and it is serious.  It involves huge bribes, murder and kidnapping, and Vatican involvement in money laundering for the Mafia.

Pope Benedict's octogenarians who are set to investigate these incidents have in some cases, their own skeletons starting with Cardinal Herranz.  In an earlier life Herranz was the personal secretary to Opus Dei founder, the now sainted Jose Escriva.  For those who don't know, OD members were high ranking members of the Board of the Vatican Bank and were heavily implicated in the Banco Ambrosiano scandal.  Only in the Vatican does it make sense to have the senior clerical member of OD investigate scandals involving OD members.  We will most likely wind up with the same kind of white wash the high ranking members of the Legion got when Cardinal DePaolis decided not to investigate the senior members of the order who helped make Maciel's multiple corrupt lives possible. This reminds me of one of John Allen's more interesting observations about the Vatican. They leave people in place to deal with their own messes as a form of penance.  Unfortunately this assumes the person left in place actually believes they made a mess. I haven't seen too much of that when it comes to criminal misconduct and cover ups.  The ongoing trial in Philadelphia proves the opposite case. The messes are almost always blamed on someone else, usually up the food chain, and said cleric was only being obedient.  That is when he wasn't being tempted by someone or something out to discredit or snare him in their evil ways.

There is reams of information on the Internet connecting the events surrounding Roberto Calvi and Banco Ambrosiano, the Italian mob family Magliana, the Italian Masonic Lodge P2, the death of JPI, Opus Dei, JPII, and western intelligence agencies.  The common link for all these disparate groups, besides money laundering and membership in two or more of the above listed groups, was fear of the influence of the Italian Communist Party and a general need to stamp out the 'red menace' while containing Soviet expansion.  

In most respects the recent Vatican crackdown on the left wing of the Church is a continuation of the exact same strategy which played out in the 80's.  Now the Vatican sends the CDF after sisters on the social justice path, back in the 80's it was assassins trained at the School of the Americas. The institutional Roman Catholic Church is just staying true to form.  As long as an organization or agenda is well right of center the Institutional Church will support it and work with it, even if it's criminal---and get paid well for doing so.  On the left side of things, only on a cold day in hell.

For readers who want a better idea of how this mess ties into the current Vatican intrusion into US politics, there is no better source than Betty Clermont's The Neo Catholics:  Implementing Christian Nationalism In America.




  1. Thanks for the recommendation on Betty Clermont's book. I've ordered it online and look forward to reading it.

  2. Even before I got to the last line, I was going to give a shout of "Well done!" Yes, it's just more "back to the future" - murder, kidnapping, bribes and all-around sleaze from the men who claim to be the only authentic interpreters of God's will on earth and the highest moral authority in the entire human race. When I first saw the photo you attached, in my mind I saw Wojtyla leaning over and giving Luciani the Mafia "kiss of death" as I think he already knew the "Smiling Pope's" days were numbered. (Not anonymous - Betty Clermont and thanks for the plug.)

    1. The smiling Pope apparently did too. JPI's secretary, the now thoroughly discredited Irish Archbishop John McGhee, wrote in his memoirs that shortly before his sudden death, JPI picked out Cardinal Woytyla as his successor. Of course, that could just be McGhee trying to put a mystical spin on his own insider knowledge of just what happened to JPI.

  3. Perhaps if you are interested in this story you might want to read a much fuller and richer account of what really happened to John Paul 1. This book is all highly documented. The book was written by a once conservative business man from the United States, Lucien Gregoire and is entitled "Murder in the Vatican." The Title should really be MurderS the vatican. I had a little trouble getting past the cover but the book is more than fascinating. dennis

    1. I've read it Dennis. It is hard to dispute because it is so well documented and I couldn't put it down. I think because of all the cognitive dissonance.

      Betty's book is also well documented.

  4. Oh yes, Betty Clermont's book is a damning indictment with clear insight. Taken together these two works are important to those who wish to Know more truth about the whole Roman Church, and what it has become and what it once was. I think that the laity as they begin to understand the documented evidence in these books will move more and more of being independent of the authoritarian structure in the RCC. Ideas that may have once taken many years are now seen very quickly in this information age. Fewer and fewer "common" laity are contributing to the RCC or at least to the extent that they used to do. The church continues to get most of its financial support from a greedy wealthy class. This class supports a greedy wealthy clerical system. dennis

  5. The first Pope was Peter. And he denied Christ.

    Nonetheless, if true, buying a mobster in a basilica in return for a hefty bribe is pretty high-grade kind of scandal!

    1. Well, if you insist on taking things so suddenly off topic...

      ...the ordination of women would be too.

      But hey, I'm not sure this is the angle you should be taking!

    2. I don't take the angle that the systematic rape of children is on the same scandal scale as the ordination of women. The Pope and the curia do. I happen to find the systematic rape of children far more scandalous.

    3. Does the Church approve either abuse? No, it does not.

      So please, suggesting that the Church has ever promoted either is completely groundless.

  6. If the Vatican moves the mobster, aren't they bound in conscience to refund the 1 billion lire to the mob?

    1. I thought about that too Bill. I doubt this will happen because the widow who gave it is probably also dead.

  7. Glad you've posted this, Colleen. I will definitely be reading both of the mentioned books.

  8. "The claims, which the Vatican has not commented on, may explain how such a reviled criminal was buried in such a hallowed site."

    Most of the RCC hierarchs buried there are a bunch of reviled criminals, so why not another one that will pay a lot of money, a bribe, to be right there with their dead bones.

    I can imagine that even my SSPX parents, if they were still alive, would be against this bunch of criminals in the Vatican.

    And, no wonder the Vatican is not commenting. They've got to get their lies straight first before contradicting themselves in public.

    What a creepy bunch of people claiming to be successors of Peter, in persona Christi. Very sad history. And this is probably just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of the sort of thing going on in the RCC around the world, sad to have to say. It gets more embarrassing & more difficult everyday to say I'm a Catholic when these guys are running such a scandalous path.


    1. What remains in you for you to call yourself Catholic in spite of the very obvious difficulties you find in it?

  9. "I think my mind still has a tough time dealing with all the corruption in an Institution my poor brain has been entrained to think of as Holy. The enormous amount of cognitive dissonance I still contend with too often resolves itself by using macabre humor. None of the above is funny. It is sickening and it is serious."

    ## Precisely. I have nothing to add to that.