Check out the eighth episode of The Critical Catholic on Where Peter Is Media, with Mike Lewis and D.W. Lafferty. We stream live every Sunday on YouTube at 8 p.m. EST.

Join us for the second part of our look at the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Pope John Paul I.

Albino Luciani, when he became pope, found himself in close proximity to a web of corruption in Italian society involving three main characters:

  • Michele Sindona, a mafia-connected wizard of financial fraud who helped trigger the collapse of the Franklin National Bank in the United States. A friend of Pope Paul VI, he became a trusted financial advisor to the Vatican. Arrested in 1979 and accused of the murder of lawyer Giorgio Ambrosoli, he was poisoned in his prison cell in 1986.
  • Roberto Calvi, the chairman of the Vatican-friendly Banco Ambrosiano, also known as “God’s banker.” Calvi, both on his own and with Sindona, was involved in elaborate financial fraud schemes and worked closely with the Vatican. In 1982 he left Italy for London and was found hanged under Blackfriars Bridge, his pants and pockets filled with bricks, just as Banco Ambrosiano collapsed and left a legacy of financial ruin.
  • Licio Gelli, Venerable Master of the far-right pseudo-Masonic lodge Propaganda Due, who allegedly held the keys to power in 1970s and 80s Italian society and was connected to Sindona and Calvi.

Was Bishop Paul Marcinkus, president of the Institute for the Works of Religion (the “Vatican Bank”) in league with Sindona, Calvi, and Gelli? Was Marcinkus himself a Freemason, as the notorious “Pecorelli list” of 1978 seemed to indicate, or was he just a naive American who became friendly with the wrong people?

It’s all fascinating, and some of it is true. But whether or not this tangle of intrigue has anything to do with the death of Albino Luciani is up for debate…

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D.W. Lafferty, PhD, is a Catholic husband, dad, and independent scholar from Ontario, Canada. He works in higher education and has published articles on the literature of Wyndham Lewis, the conspiracy theory of Douglas Reed, and the life and legacy of Engelbert Dollfuss. Online, he tweets as @rightscholar.

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