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"Never be afraid to stand up for what is right, whether your adversary be your parent, your teacher, your peer, your politician, your preacher, your constitution, or even your God!" Albino Luciani
He honors Susan B. Anthony and Lincoln for their courage to have set aside the tenth commandment which held women as mere property of men and protected the right of one man to enslave another
"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor his property, his house, his wife, his slaves, his ox, his ass"
Thirty-three days into his papacy, the youngest pope to die in four hundred years and the only pope in the two-thousand year history of the Church whose death was unwitnessed was found dead in his bed.
At seven-thirty the morning of September 29, 1978 the Vatican issued the following, "Pope John Paul died just before midnight last evening of myocardial infarction to the heart. He was discovered by his secretary Magee at six-thirty this morning who went to look for the Pope when he failed to show up for his morning chapel service ... He was found sitting up in bed in his daytime clothes with the lamp on and his glasses on reading the 'Imitation of Christ' which book remained upright in his hands. Father Magee summoned Cardinal Jean Villot who performed the last rites ... Villot tapped the Pope on the forehead three times. With no response, he removed the Fisherman's Ring from John Paul's finger and smashed it and one of the shortest pontifical reigns in history came to an end ..."
Contradictions and rumors
The medical community did not delay a day. The Italian Medical Society issued the statement, "... It is irresponsible for any doctor to infer myocardial infarction without autopsy in the case of one whose death was unwitnessed and had no history of heart disease."
There were a few contradictions in the release itself.
Villot had administered the last rites contradicted the Pope having died before midnight as it is canon law the soul leaves the body when rigor mortis sets in. No priest, much less a cardinal, would administer the last rites to a cold corpse. Also, it was widely known John Paul had refused to order the Fisherman's Ring cast as a part of his intent to demolish the symbolic regency of the papacy.
The embalmers told reporters, in his hands were notes written on the stationary of Vittorio Veneto. They also said they were picked up by a Vatican car shortly after five-thirty, an hour before the release said the body was found.In addition, they were told by Swiss Guards a nun had discovered the Pope. It was their opinion the Pope had not been dead for much more than an hour or two as it was a chilly morning and the windows were open and the body was still warm.
The press interviewed the nun who had found the body.
The clock that should have rung and did not ring
Sister Vincenza said she routinely delivered coffee at four-thirty each morning. When she first knocked there was no answer. She waited a minute or so and knocked again, this time a bit louder. It was obvious the Pope was still in the bathroom.
She opened the door and entered the room intending to leave the tray on his nightstand. She knew he was up and about, as it was his rule to set his alarm clock for a few minutes before she delivered coffee in the event he overslept. If he was still sleeping, the alarm would be ringing loud enough to wake the dead. At least, that is what she thought. This meant, he had risen at his usual time of four and had completed his first task of each day—turned off the alarm.
The light was on. He was sitting up in bed in his daytime clothes reading papers held upright in his hands. She greeted him, "Good morning." He resembled a mime deeply involved in his reading.
It was not unusual for him, once dressed for the day, to be sitting in bed reading when she delivered coffee. Vincenza, who had served him for twelve years, had come to know this man as a jovial one, always smiling, often laughing and, at times, joking.
At first she thought it was a joke. Actually, she knew it was a joke. He was wearing his glasses. Though nearsighted and he required them to walk across the room, he did not require them to read. That is, he did not require them to read in private.
Yet, someone not close to him would think he required them to read because he usually wore them when reading from the pulpit to allow him to view his audience.
She approached the bed, "Please don't joke with me, Albino." As she placed the tray on the stand she realized something was wrong.
Her testimony confirmed that of the embalmers—he was holding papers and not a book. More importantly, he had been discovered dead shortly after four-thirty and not at six-thirty.
That the alarm clock should have rung and did not ring raised eyebrows of the Agatha Christie mystery buff. The Pope had turned it off or someone else who knew his practice had turned it off. Being electric, it would have been ringing when the nun was at the door.
Yet, when one investigates murder, one must consider not only the evidence that is there, but also the evidence which should be there, and is not there.
In the case of Hercule Poirot's Hickory Dickory Dock we have the footprints which should have been there and were not there. In the case of Sherlock Holmes' Silver Blaze we have the dog which should have barked and did not bark. In the case of the Swiss Guard Murders we have the commander's weapon which should have been there and was not there. In the case of the 33-day Pope, we have the alarm clock which should have rung and did not ring.
The listings of cardinals to be replaced
These contradictions of the nun and the embalmers gave birth to a rumor the notes held in the Pope's hands were listings of cardinals to be replaced; he was planning a shakeup of the Church's hierarchy—something that had been expected ever since he had been elected.
It was no secret Benelli would replace Villot as Secretary of State something both these cardinals looked forward to. Benelli had been the architect of Luciani's election and was more than qualified to head up the Church's administration. Villot was looking forward to living in Rome and teaching in the Gregorian University.
But who were the others? Why was there such concern?
Other than this, there was concern about only one job. Except for the incumbent who would lose his job, the others didn't mean much.
The Prefect of the Doctrine of the Congregation of the Faith—the chief theologian of the Church—dictates the morals of the Catholic world. It was rumored the archbishop of Utrecht Willebrands—an advocate of contraception, married priests, ordained women and tolerance of homosexuality—would get the job.
This expectation was sound as the Curia post Willebrands held—President of the Secretariat for Christian Unity—interfaced directly with the Prefect position and was viewed as a stepping stone to it. Yet, there was more than just that.
On September 28, 1978 John Paul scheduled a synod of opposing left and right wing bishops to examine these same issues. He named Willebrands to chair the synod—the kind of assembly normally led by the Prefect of the Doctrine of the Congregation of the Faith.
That the embalmers were roused from their sleep so early in the morning fired rumors of poisoning. It was the practice of the Mafia to embalm immediately after death to erase signs of arsenic when it was the instrument of murder. For this reason, it was illegal in Italy to embalm until twenty-four hours after death.
Of course, Italian law did not apply in the Vatican. Yet, it had been its practice to adhere to the law ever since it came into effect in 1946—embalming of popes had been delayed for twenty-four hours. This included Pius XII, John XXIII and—a month earlier—Paul VI.
In the case of John Paul, ANSA News—Italy's most reliable wire service—reported embalmers were roused at five in the morning, over an hour before the Vatican said the body had been found.
There is the possibility one wanted to avoid a repetition of what had happened in the cases of Pius and Paul where skin discoloration and odor presented problems in the viewings. Yet, if this was true, why not summon the embalmers at a more reasonable time like eight o'clock which would have allowed more than ample time for the embalming before the first viewing in the St. Clementine Chapel at noon and would have avoided raising unnecessary suspicions.
The bell cord
Most questionable of all, was something killed him so suddenly he was unable to reach for the bell cord which hung a whisker from his right shoulder, as this would have summoned in an instant the guard at the entrance to the corridor leading to the Pope's chambers. Also, he was not afforded the time to press one of the service buttons on the intercom just to his left which would have brought to his side any of five people who resided elsewhere in the palace that night.
John Paul also had the option of pressing an emergency button on the bedside console which would have activated a flashing light in the corridor just outside his quarters and buzzed the guard.
The Vatican newspaper reported an interesting coincidence. On the previous morning, maintenance workers happened to have tested the bell cord, something that had not been done for years as Pope Paul always used the intercom. The bell rang so loud those in the palace thought it to be a fire alarm and headed for the stairs.
The time of death
The time of death is critical to the supposition the Pope died of natural causes. It is also critical to the supposition he was murdered.
As we will demonstrate clearly in what is to come, if he died before midnight—as the Vatican claimed—he could have died of natural causes. Yet, if he died in the early morning hours—as the embalmers claimed—the case for murder is almost certain.
If he died before midnight his light would have been on all night. Both the nun and the Vatican release were explicit the light was on. This is consistent with he would not be reading in the dark.
At the upper right hand corner of the palace, the papal bedroom overlooks St. Peter's Square. It is a focal point of tourists who roam the square into the wee hours of the morning. Those that hang their hat on the supposition the pope died before midnight depend on the chance not a tourist nor the police assigned to the square that night noticed the light was on all night. That the light was not on all night was widely reported in the press in the following days.
Also, if the Pope had died just before midnight the previous day, why would he be dressed in his daytime clothes? If one decides to read oneself to sleep one first dons one's bedtime clothes.
On October 10, 1978 the Vatican issued a corrected release,
"While the death of John Paul came as a surprise, there was the fact the pope suffered from a serious low blood pressure condition and was in poor health and frail throughout his brief papacy. Most recently, he had complained of swollen feet ...
John Paul did not have in mind to make revolutionary changes in the Vatican hierarchy ...
We wish to correct our statement it was the Pope's secretary Magee who discovered the body. The Pope was first discovered by the nun who delivered his coffee at the usual time. When she sensed something wrong she summoned Magee ...
We wish to correct our statement the Pope was reading the 'Imitation of Christ.' This was a communications error. He was reviewing some notes. That he retained them upright in his hands in the midst of a massive heart attack is by the grace of God ...
It is immaterial who found His Holiness. It is immaterial when he was found dead. It is immaterial when he died. All that is material is that he was found dead ... The Vatican"
Effortil, low blood pressure and swollen feet
Reacting to the release, a Venice area newspaper published a photo of his physical exam of five months before his death which raised considerable question concerning the alleged heart attack.
It showed him to be in extraordinary physical health. Pertaining to his arterial condition, his cholesterol count was at normal levels and his blood pressure was 106 over 65—considered low at the time when a 'normal' reading was considered to be 100 plus one's age—yet, today, an optimal reading for anyone particularly a man of 65.
It was this blood pressure reading which led to the rumor he had been taking Effortil—a low blood pressure medication. The rumor claimed digitalis had been added to the medicine. Some authors embellished the rumor claiming Cardinal Villot pocketed the bottle of Effortil from the nightstand to build a case against him.
More damaging to the claim of an arterial problem, his blood viscosity was normal and ultrasound tests of his legs, stomach area and carotid arteries showed no blockage at all. His doctor had made this a routine part of his twice-a-year physicals since the mid-sixties when the tests had reached some level of reliability.
The premier books on John Paul's mysterious death are David Yallop's In God's Name and John Cornwell's A Thief in the Night.
These accomplished journalists interviewed dozens of the same witnesses and came up with different conclusions. Yallop proved his case for murder and Cornwell proved his case for natural death.
One thing that has always puzzled me is that neither of these men interviewed Dr. Da Ros, the only material witness I talked to.
I find it especially strange Cornwell—a renowned journalist sent by a sitting Pontiff John Paul II—claims he repeatedly tried to talk to Da Ros, a devout Catholic, but was unable to get an interview.
Even stranger, he was unable to bring a third party witness to the table who could shed some light on what Dr. Da Ros had to say. When asked, his leading witness, the Pope's niece Lina Petri, tells Cornwell, "Da Ros refuses to talk to me. He is extremely abrupt."
I was practically a 'nobody' at the time and had no problem enjoying a fine lunch and an afternoon with the doctor on the Lido. One is talking of the possibility of murder vs. natural causes here.
Dr. Da Ros was the most qualified man in the world to write a book about the nature of John Paul's death and come up with a logical answer. He had not only been Luciani's doctor for twenty years, he had been his closest friend in Venice. How could one go onto second base and so forth without first touching first base?
Nevertheless, when I visited the doctor in the fall of 1978, I was searching for Luciani's will and had no interest in his death. Yet, I did ask him if he agreed heart attack had been involved?
He laughed, "I agree with the whole of the medical community. Without autopsy, it is impossible to know what killed him. Yet, from what I knew of him, heart attack would bottom the list."
He dispelled the rumor digitalis had been added to his Effortil.
Though Luciani's blood pressure ran a bit on the low side, it had never been a concern and Da Ros told me he had never prescribed Effortil or any other low blood pressure medication. Not news to me, as he had told the press this when queried about the rumor.
Investigative reporters since—including Yallop and Cornwell—clearly established no prescription was issued John Paul by the Vatican pharmacy and no Vatican doctor had treated him for any condition during his papacy—eradicating the claim of swollen feet.
Nevertheless, because it is the strongest of rumors we must put digitalis to 'sleep.' A large dose will induce violent vomiting and kill in a few minutes. A teaspoonful will take an hour or so to do the job. Blurred vision and hallucinations are followed by abdominal pain and violent vomiting and often head pain ending in congestive heart failure. In any case, one is certain to empty one's stomach.
If digitalis was used to kill the Pope, it tells one something about the perpetrator. Only an imbecile would have employed digitalis as the degree of vomiting it precipitates would ring a bell in the least suspicious doctor. Not a very wise choice when there are hundreds of lethal toxins which would have done the job with far less visible evidence. Also, vomiting is inconsistent with the position the body was found and none of those brought to the room mentioned it.
Adding digitalis to Effortil was first used by Agatha Christie in her mysteries Appointment with Death and The Secret of Chimneys and some of her other works. The Christie' market exploded in the 1970s on the heels of the box office buster motion pictures 'Murder on the Orient Express' (1974) and 'Death on the Nile' (1978). Though no one knows who started the rumor, one knows its origin.
Dr. Da Ros was more concerned with the 'swollen feet' in the 2nd Vatican release. Luciani had never suffered of swollen extremities. What's more Da Ros had visited John Paul a week before his death.
The medical community had demolished the idea of 'myocardial infarction' in the 1st Vatican release. It made sense to Da Ros it had included 'swollen feet' in its 2nd release to set the stage for what it would subsequently claim the pope died of 'pulmonary embolism.'
Excerpted from MURDER IN THE VATICAN by Lucien Gregoire Copyright © 2010 by George Lucien Gregoire. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted January 14, 2011
Unlike Yallop who cites not a single press reference (In God's Name), 'Gregoire backs up what he has to say with hundreds of press references and scores of photos that followed this revolutionist through his twenty years as a bishop. What's more, he provides photos of American headlines which billed the newly elected John Paul 1st as a 'moderate liberal who would change doctrine in those cases it imposed unfair restraints of the lives of innocent people' and Italian headlines-where he was better known-which went so far as to tab him a 'reckless progressive.' By 'innocent people' is meant women, the remarried, homosexuals and the poor. 'Murder in the Vatican' references Internet film clips which recorded this good man's papacy including the cover quote which struck at the basic canon upon which the United States is founded, "It is the inalienable right of no man to accumulate wealth beyond the necessary while other men starve to death because they have nothing." This man did many incredible things which would be considered outlandish for a bishop today much less in his day-unbelievable to say the least. If you are the type who has to see it to believe it, this is the book for you. A hundred plus photos back up what the author has to say.
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Posted May 30, 2012
After reading this book, the death of John Paul I causes me even greater heartache. This was a man who would have healed the Church and brought back a vibrancy lacking for 2000 years. Instead, the Church is dying more and more each day, completely out of touch with what the world truly needs.
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Posted April 27, 2013
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