Hollywood likes to make conspiratorial movies about the Catholic church, viz. Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, End of Days, The Order, Stigmata, &c. These are not movies that make any effort to be factual or plausible.
What’s ironic about this exercise is that while Hollywood directors and screenwriters concoct fictitious conspiracy thrillers about the Catholic church, it could just as easily make conspiratorial movies about the Catholic church that have a factual basis. There’s plenty of raw material to construct a fast-paced thriller based on genuine ecclesiastical intrigue. If you think this ended with the Medieval papacy or the Borgia popes, think again:
“The surprising death of the relatively young 33-day Pope [John Paul I]–he was found dead in bed one morning–isn’t investigated either by an autopsy or by the police…David A. Yallop, the author of the 1984 bestseller In God’s Name…is right in his broad account of the way in which the Vatican is entangled in the world of finance and even the Mafia. That is certainly true of its excellent relations with Giulio Andreotti, several times minister and seven times Prime Minister, whose influence is as great as the cloud of scandal surrounding him. Moreover Andreotti is author of a book ‘My Seven Popes.’ He is also thought to be privy to the murder of the investigative journalist Mino Peccorelli in Rome on 20 March 1979 or even to have instigated it…” H Küng, Disputed Truth: Memoirs II (Continuum 2008), 395.
“The Vatican, which likes to preach law and justice all over the world, hasn’t contributed anything to the explanation of manifest crimes, even though after the unexpected death of John Paul I, further amazing deaths occur which have still not be explained even today. There is the suicide (or poisoning?) in a Roman prison of Paul VI's former big banker and financial expert Michele Sindona, possibly recommended to the Pope by his patron Andreotti; the Sicilian, previously sentenced for fraud in America, had evidently also been a Mafia banker,” ibid. 395.
“Then there is the grim death of ‘God’s banker,’ Robert Calvi, head of the Banco Ambrosiano, Italy’s biggest private bank, which went bankrupt with the disappearance of $13 billion…this bank enjoyed the special trust of the church, both the hierarchy and believers. In June 1982 Calvi, like Sindona a member of the dark secret Lodge P2, which has revolutionary aims, was found hanged under Blackfriars Bridge in London, his pockets filled with stones–suicide or, as more than Calvi’s family in Milan are convinced, a Mafia murder? And what did the Vatican contribute towards enlightenment here?” ibid. 395-96.
“The Vatican Bank Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) is the active partner in Calvi’s venturesome financial operations. Moreover in 1982, without conceding any debt, it spends the sum of $240 million to buy off the Vatican from legal action as the chief shareholder in the Banco Ambrosiano, which has held and wasted the money of countless Catholic creditors. The moral damage to the Vatican is enormous,” ibid. 396.
“Calvi’s direct Vatican business partner was a large American clergyman, Archbishop Marcinkus from Chicago, of Lithuanian origin, more than 1.9 meters tall, and initially in the Secretariat of State. As a multilingual travel marshal and bodyguard (‘gorilla’) he had protected Pope Paul VI from being stabbed in Manila. In 1968 he was nominated titular bishop and finally, without any banking experience, appointed secretary and in 1971 head of the Vatican Bank. He rose to become the most powerful American in the Curia,” ibid. 396.
From what his friends say I gather that this Marcinkus, an enthusiastic golfer and tennis player, must face the music for Paul VI, who had unwisely invested large sums of money in the bank of his former archdiocese of Milan…So the Milan state advocate issues a warrant for Marcinkus’ arrest. He lives in a clergy house in Rome, but evades arrest by fleeing to the Vatican, where he lives a completely secluded life. The Vatican refuses to hand him over. After a long tug-of-war with the Italian judiciary the immunity of the Vatican official–even for a crime committed on Italian territory!–is finally established by a highly controversial decision from the Italian court of appeal with reference to the Lateran treaties. Who in Italy can withstand the power of the church? Not even the courts. At the beginning of the 1990s Marcinkus can return to America unnoticed. When I was giving a lecture in Phoenix, Arizona, in November 2005 I was told that he lived there in the retirement complex of Sun City, next to the golf course. After years of investigations the Roman public prosecutor’s office produced a report in 2003 and the Calvi murder trial was to begin at the latest in 2005. However, on the evening of 20 February 2006 Marcinkus, a possible witness but now 84 years old, was found dead in his house,” ibid. 396-97.
“Although prosecutors in various countries had called for it, Marcinkus was never put on trial for money laundering, setting up shell companies, the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano or the death of Calvi…Marcinkus openly confessed to Cornwell that he had plundered the Vatican pension fund to buy off involvement in the Banco Ambrosiano,” ibid. 397.
“It’s a never-ending story. On 5 July the influential big financier Gianmario Roverado, who is regarded as the ‘broker of Opus Dei,’ is kidnapped on his way to an Opus meeting in Milan and two weeks later is found murdered in Parma. At the same time, the Calvi murder trial continues before a Roman court; at it, among other things, the honorary chairman of the L’Espresso media group says that Calvi sensed a conspiracy against him and even had the windows of his Roman apartment fitted with armored glass against a possible helicopter attack. The person thought responsible is Flavio Carboni, the former Calvi bag carrier, and with him his ex-girlfriend Manuela Kleinszig from Carinthia, Mafia banker Pippo Calò and further mafiosi,” ibid. 397.
“Will the mysterious darkness which surrounds the relationships between the Vatican, Opus Dei and the Mafia ever be illuminated?…the death of Calvi and so many other incidents (for example the equally unexplained murder of the commandant of the Swiss Guard and his wife by a member of the guard who immediately commits suicide) also makes me wonder whether there was something suspect about the death of John Paul I. At any rate, immediately after his death a pious lie goes the rounds that the Pope died with Thomas à Kempis’s medieval book of devotions The Imitation of Christ on his bedspread. I hear directly from those around the present Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Giovanni Colombo, Luciani’s best friend in the College of Cardinals, that the evening before his death John Paul I had telephoned him and said to him: ‘Mi prendono in giro–they’re leading me by the nose’,” ibid. 397-98.
“As Pope [John-Paul II], by every possible means he will promote this ‘Work of God’ [=Opus Dei], this Fascist-type Catholic secret organization with the features of a sect which grew up in Franco’s Spain and had the majority of ministers in Franco’s last cabinet as members…Wojtyla withdraws this tightly-organized Opus, which aspires to power in the church and in time has several thousand friends, supporters and sympathizers everywhere, from the control of the bishops and makes it a prelatura nullius, so to speak an independent world diocese, in the face of much resistance also in the Curia…Wojtyla beatifies and even canonizes its ambitious founder Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer…He nominates the sacked Vatican banker Marcinkus a titular bishop–Marcinkus is also said to have diverted millions to the Polish Solidarity movement,” ibid. 400.
“Joseph Ratzinger, who originally had his reservations about Opus Dei, allows himself to be given an honorary doctorate by the Spanish Opus Dei University and makes use of its services in power politics,” ibid. 401.