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FTR #98 Update on Vatican Power Politics, the P‑2 Lodge and Licio Gelli

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This pro­gram updates a long-run­ning inves­ti­ga­tion into events in and around the shad­owy P‑2 Lodge, a Mason­ic lodge which served as a cryp­to-fas­cist gov­ern­ment that secret­ly ran Italy for much of the post- World War II peri­od.

The P‑2 was found­ed by Grand Mas­ter Licio Gel­li, a for­mer Waf­fen SS offi­cer and ardent sup­port­er of Ital­ian Fas­cist dic­ta­tor Mus­soli­ni. Con­vict­ed and/or deeply impli­cat­ed in numer­ous heinous crimes, Gel­li embar­rassed Ital­ian author­i­ties by escap­ing from Italy in May of 1998. The pro­gram cov­ers his escape and recent activ­i­ties.

In addi­tion, the broad­cast dis­cuss­es the mur­der of Alois Ester­mann, the head of the Swiss Guards, who’ve served for cen­turies as the Pope’s body­guards. A mem­ber of an arch-reac­tionary Vat­i­can order known as Opus Dei, Ester­mann shield­ed the John Paul II from fur­ther bul­lets dur­ing the attempt on his life in May of 1981.

The con­clu­sion of the pro­gram details an ongo­ing cov­er-up by var­i­ous intel­li­gence agen­cies of the truth con­cern­ing the attempt on the Pope’s life. In addi­tion to dis­cussing indi­ca­tions that var­i­ous West­ern intel­li­gence agen­cies gen­er­at­ed the now dis­cred­it­ed Bul­gar­i­an the­sis, the pro­gram sets forth infor­ma­tion con­cern­ing con­tin­ued threats to the Pope’s life from the Grey Wolves (a Turk­ish fas­cist orga­ni­za­tion, to which con­vict­ed would-be papal assas­sin Mehmet Ali Agca belonged.) Please note that the afore­men­tioned P‑2 Lodge is con­nect­ed to the attempt on the Pope’s life.


One comment for “FTR #98 Update on Vatican Power Politics, the P‑2 Lodge and Licio Gelli”

  1. Licio Gel­li, who declare in a 2008 tele­vi­sion inter­view, “I was born under fas­cism, I stud­ied with fas­cism, I fought for fas­cism, I am a fas­cist and I will die a fas­cist,” just died:

    The New York Times
    Licio Gel­li, Ital­ian Financier and Cabal Leader, Dies at 96

    DEC. 18, 2015

    Licio Gel­li, a buc­ca­neer­ing Ital­ian financier and self-pro­fessed fas­cist who was impli­cat­ed in ter­ror­ist crimes, scan­dals and a secret soci­ety that, with him as its grand­mas­ter, was accused of plot­ting a right-wing coup, died on Tues­day at his vil­la in Arez­zo, Italy. He was 96.
    From Our Adver­tis­ers

    His death was report­ed by the nation’s news media, and his funer­al on Thurs­day, attend­ed most­ly by fam­i­ly and friends, was cov­ered by Ital­ian tele­vi­sion.

    Mr. Gel­li nev­er wavered in his con­vic­tions. In a 2008 tele­vi­sion inter­view, he declared, “I was born under fas­cism, I stud­ied with fas­cism, I fought for fas­cism, I am a fas­cist and I will die a fas­cist.”

    His near-myth­ic ignominy evoked pop­u­lar fic­tion­al con­spir­a­cy tales, like Dan Brown’s nov­el “The Da Vin­ci Code” and the movie “The God­fa­ther Part III,” and he per­son­i­fied what Ital­ians encap­su­late as “dietrolo­gia” — the reflex­ive, wide­ly held sus­pi­cion that behind any offi­cial gov­ern­ment nar­ra­tive lurks a more sin­is­ter expla­na­tion.

    But if Mr. Gel­li was a scoundrel to many Ital­ians, to oth­ers he held out the promise of sta­bil­i­ty in tur­bu­lent times, when the Com­mu­nist Par­ty was advanc­ing at the polls and the econ­o­my was declin­ing.

    He exert­ed much of his influ­ence as leader of a cabal­is­tic break­away Mason­ic lodge, known as Pro­pa­gan­da Due, or P2, which the Freema­sons had offi­cial­ly dis­solved. The author­i­ties said hun­dreds of gov­ern­ment, busi­ness and mil­i­tary lead­ers had joined the lodge, defy­ing Italy’s ban on secret soci­eties.

    Inves­ti­ga­tors linked the group to plots to desta­bi­lize the Ital­ian state, to blame left­ists for unrest, and to foment a right-wing coup dur­ing the “years of lead,” when Italy was besieged by ter­ror­ist attacks.

    The group was sus­pect­ed of try­ing to dis­cred­it Com­mu­nists by thwart­ing the res­cue of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Aldo Moro, who was kid­napped and mur­dered in 1978 by left­ist Red Brigades guer­ril­las. P2 was believed to have had a hand in the hor­rif­ic bomb­ing of a Bologna train sta­tion in 1980 that left 85 dead and that was gen­er­al­ly attrib­uted to anoth­er neo-fas­cist group.

    And it was inves­ti­gat­ed in 1982 in the death of Rober­to Calvi, a lodge mem­ber who was called “God’s banker” because of his finan­cial ties to the Vatican’s bank. Mr. Calvi’s body was found hang­ing from Black­fri­ars Bridge in Lon­don — a sui­cide, the author­i­ties ruled.

    Mr. Gel­li was con­vict­ed of bank fraud and obstruc­tion of jus­tice. He mys­te­ri­ous­ly escaped from prison or house arrest twice and served the remain­der of his term in his vil­la, a 30-room redoubt near a 15th-cen­tu­ry church in the Tus­can hills.

    There he was found to have a gold thumb when near­ly $2 mil­lion in bul­lion was dis­cov­ered in 1998 in the ter­race gar­den, hid­den in ter­ra cot­ta flower pots beneath bego­nias and gera­ni­ums.

    In “God’s Banker,” his 1983 biog­ra­phy of Mr. Calvi, Rupert Corn­well wrote, “Italy, it must be record­ed with hon­esty, albeit bemuse­ment, has pro­duced few more remark­able indi­vid­u­als this cen­tu­ry than Licio Gel­li.”

    Mr. Gel­li (pro­nounced jel­ly) was born on April 21, 1919, in Pis­toia, north of Flo­rence, in Tus­cany. He mar­ried the for­mer Wan­da Van­naci. She died in 1993, and their three chil­dren, Raf­fael­lo, Maria Rosa and Mau­r­izio, sur­vive him, as does his sec­ond wife, the for­mer Gabriel­la Vasile. (Anoth­er daugh­ter died in an auto­mo­bile acci­dent.)

    Mr. Gel­li joined Ben­i­to Mussolini’s fas­cist Black­shirts in fight­ing for Gen­er­alis­si­mo Fran­cis­co Fran­co in Spain’s Civ­il War in the 1930s. He served as an Ital­ian liai­son to Nazi Ger­many dur­ing World War II, then switched sides to sup­port Com­mu­nist par­ti­sans in his native Pis­toia Province.

    After the war, he fled to Argenti­na, where he became a con­fi­dant of the dic­ta­tor Juan Perón. Return­ing to Italy, he became suc­cess­ful as a financier and self-made indus­tri­al­ist man­u­fac­tur­ing mat­tress­es.

    Mr. Gel­li emerged into the pub­lic eye in 1981 as Ital­ian inves­ti­ga­tors were focus­ing on Mr. Calvi, who had presided over the col­lapse of Ban­co Ambrosiano, Italy’s largest pri­vate bank, and on Michele Sin­dona, anoth­er banker who had been accused in the fail­ure of the Franklin Nation­al Bank in the Unit­ed States. (Mr. Sin­dona was lat­er con­vict­ed of mur­der and was him­self mur­dered, by poi­son­ing, in prison.)

    Search­ing for the names of busi­ness­men who had ille­gal­ly export­ed cash, the inves­ti­ga­tors found instead — in a leather suit­case in Mr. Gelli’s mat­tress fac­to­ry — evi­dence of what amount­ed to a right-wing shad­ow gov­ern­ment com­posed of 962 pow­er bro­kers led by Mr. Gel­li. The group, they said, sought to “exert anony­mous and sur­rep­ti­tious con­trol” of the coun­try.

    The ros­ter includ­ed Mr. Calvi and Mr. Sin­dona, whom the author­i­ties described as pup­pets of Mr. Gel­li, enlist­ed to help impose what the group called a “Plan for Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rebirth.”

    When so many gov­ern­ment min­is­ters and oth­er offi­cials were revealed to be mem­bers of the lodge, Prime Min­is­ter Arnal­do Forlani’s gov­ern­ment fell. His suc­ces­sor declared that Italy was fac­ing a “moral emer­gency.”

    Mr. Gel­li was arrest­ed in Gene­va in 1982 on charges of pass­port fraud. The author­i­ties said he had gone there to with­draw mil­lions of dol­lars from his Swiss accounts.

    A year lat­er, just as he was about to be extra­dit­ed to Italy to face charges involv­ing the Bologna bomb­ing, the bank fail­ure and financ­ing right-wing ter­ror­ism, he escaped from a Swiss prison hos­pi­tal with a guard’s help and fled to South Amer­i­ca. He returned to Switzer­land in 1987 and was extra­dit­ed to Italy under extra­or­di­nary secu­ri­ty.

    Mr. Gel­li was absolved of any asso­ci­a­tion with the Bologna bomb­ing but sen­tenced to five years in prison for obstruct­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion and 18 and a half years for his role in the Ban­co Ambrosiano fraud. (His Swiss accounts had been linked to more than $1 bil­lion that the bank was miss­ing.) He lat­er received a 17-year sen­tence on obstruc­tion charges in a polit­i­cal con­spir­a­cy case involv­ing 15 oth­er P2 mem­bers.

    Mr. Gel­li was a “man of Neron­ic wealth and ways,” as the writer Nick Tosches described him in “Pow­er on Earth,” his 1986 biog­ra­phy of Mr. Sin­dona. But Mr. Gelli’s lawyer, Raphael Gior­get­ti, sug­gest­ed on Thurs­day that his client had mere­ly been a “scape­goat” for the government’s own fail­ings.

    Most of the lodge mem­bers escaped pun­ish­ment. Arch­bish­op Paul Marcinkus, who was pres­i­dent of the Vatican’s bank, was indict­ed as an acces­so­ry in the Ban­co Ambrosiano col­lapse. Cit­ing diplo­mat­ic immu­ni­ty, the Vat­i­can refused to com­ply with an Ital­ian arrest war­rant for the arch­bish­op, but it paid more than $200 mil­lion to Ban­co Ambrosiano’s cred­i­tors.


    What on earth do you put on the tomb­stone for some­one like that? Sure, “I was born under fas­cism, I stud­ied with fas­cism, I fought for fas­cism, I am a fas­cist and I will die a fas­cist,” would be accu­rate, but also a bit of an under­state­ment.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 20, 2015, 2:30 pm

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