Power and the Glory: The Inside Story of Pope John Paul II: A Political Biography


From the first moment of his papacy Karol Wojtyla sought political influence and a role on the world stage. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, he was a leader to millions of Catholics at a time of tremendous change. Promising a renewed church, he was the first media Pope and travelled around the world to preach his message. It is said that he was central in the fall of Soviet Eastern Europe, in particular his own homeland of Poland. Now, one year after his death, there are already calls for his sainthood. ...

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From the first moment of his papacy Karol Wojtyla sought political influence and a role on the world stage. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, he was a leader to millions of Catholics at a time of tremendous change. Promising a renewed church, he was the first media Pope and travelled around the world to preach his message. It is said that he was central in the fall of Soviet Eastern Europe, in particular his own homeland of Poland. Now, one year after his death, there are already calls for his sainthood. But is this the whole truth? David Yallop explores the myths and half truths of John Paul II's long reign and asks some difficult questions ranging from the role of the Vatican in the momentous events in 1989, and the continued mismanagement of Vatican finance which allowed Calvi and others to continue to use the Vatican banks for money laundering to the failure to address the child sexual abuse crisis and the rise of the Opus Dei. Including explosive revelations from the CIA, the KGB, and the Vatican itself, it is a bold and unflinching look at a man who soon stands to become a saint.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Pope John Paul II was one of the most visible and influential figures of the late 20th century. He is credited with helping bring down communism, for popularizing the Solidarity movement in Poland and for advancing the devotion of the Virgin Mary, who he claimed interceded to save him from an assassination attempt in the early 1980s. According to investigative journalist Yallop, this is hardly the whole story about the late pontiff. Yallop paints a portrait of a pope who centralized authority as much as possible, quashed any sign of disobedience or rebellion within the Catholic Church and, while lambasting Catholics for getting involved in politics, was just as much a political figure as a religious one. The author seems to enjoy shooting holes in John Paul II's character, tarnishing many of the embellished stories that the pope's fans hold dear. Yallop has done exhaustive research for this project, but his journalistic objectivity is sometimes placed aside—clearly no fan of John Paul II, he posits quasiconspiracy theories about Vatican coverups and behind-the-scenes backstabbing. Still, the book also offers useful information that brings out the complex realities of the Catholic hierarchy and the papacy's role in world affairs. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
A tedious tale of fascist cabals, freemasonic conspiracies, perverts lurking under every cassock and a pope glad to invent a heroic past and preserve a hidebound one. If you are disposed to think Catholicism evil, then Yallop's book will doubtless please. The opening chapters rework his hypothesis, from In God's Name (1984), that John Paul I was poisoned because he knew too much about the financial crimes within the Vatican and wanted to make appropriate reforms; John Paul II not only tossed aside those reforms, Yallop asserts, but also freed the gnomes to do as they wished, so that "while the Holy Father roundly condemned apartheid, the Vatican Bank was secretly loaning $172 million to official agencies of the South African apartheid regime." The Vatican Bank, of course, was not the only lender to rightist regimes, and Yallop charges John Paul II with hypocrisy for ignoring the crimes of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes outside Eastern Europe. Strange behavior, that, considering that Yallop also asserts that the pope was no real enemy of communism and that the Polish communist regime was "instrumental in setting him on the path to St. Peter's throne." Much of the book is a lurid catalog of incidents of sexual abuse and pedophilia proven and alleged, with Yallop charging that the pope and his minions did nothing to stop the priests. Much of the rest is given over to charges that John Paul II invented and padded his resume; thus, "the claims made over many years about Wojtyla's wartime actions on behalf of Jews are a fantasy without any foundation." But this book has little grounding, either; lacking substantial documentation and reliant on supposed anonymous sources inside theVatican subject to supposed curial inquisitions, it is an extended and rhetorically predictable rumor. And a grinding, aggrieved one at that. Will it prevent John Paul's beatification? Not likely.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786719563
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 3/28/2007
  • Pages: 530
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

David Yallop is a highly regarded investigative journalist and "seeker of justice." He has overturned opinion with every book he has written, continuously uncovering injustice and truth in his research into the Derek Bentley case, Carlos the Jackal, and the murder of John Paul I.

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Read an Excerpt

The Power and the Glory

Inside the Dark Heart of John Paul II's Vatican
By David Yallop

Carroll & Graf Publishers

Copyright © 2007 Poetic Product Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-78671-956-3

Chapter One

God's Will?

'When one pope dies, we make another one.' So runs a popular saying in Rome. They were particularly busy in 1978. It was the year of three popes. The death of Pope Paul VI on 6 August 1978 surprised very few Vatican observers. Indeed, as his reign entered its sixteenth year, some reporters already began to write in the past tense. The reign of his successor, Albino Luciani, who took the name Pope John Paul I, was different.

One month after his election, Albino Luciani received an extensive and very detailed interim report that had been carried out at his request by Cardinal Egidio Vagnozzi of an investigation into Vatican finances. Vagnozzi had been President of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See, Chancellor of the Exchequer or Auditor General since late 1967. Pope John Paul I considered the report alongside additional information he had obtained from Cardinals Benelli, Felici and deputy Secretary of State, Archbishop Giuseppe Caprio. He reached a number of decisions which were certain to have a dramatic effect on the Church and the Pope advised his Secretary of State, Cardinal Villot, of these reforms on the late afternoon of 28 September.Within hours Albino Luciani was dead and the lies and the cover-up surrounding the death of the thirty-three-day Pope had begun.

His death stunned the cardinals. As they gathered in Rome in October to elect a new pope, many were clearly frightened. Albino Luciani - Pope John Paul I - had been murdered. No Cardinal uttered that conclusion in public, of course; the party line as decreed by Secretary of State Cardinal Jean Villot held more or less steady during the three months period of sede vacante - the empty throne. Nonetheless, questions were raised behind General Congregation doors; the Pope's death was both sinister and politically momentous: under the Vatican constitution all of Luciani's reforms would die with him unless his successor chose to implement them. At stake were profound issues such as discipline within the Church, evangelisation, ecumenism, collegiality, world peace and a subject that now pre-occupied most of the Cardinals - Church finances. The man they had elected had indeed immediately instigated just such an investigation; now he was dead.

Cardinal Bernardin Gantin voiced the fears and confusions of many when he observed, 'We are groping in the dark.' Cardinal Giovanni Benelli, a man who had been particularly close to the 'Smiling Pope', made no attempt to hide his thoughts: 'We are left frightened.' Many cardinals were shocked not only by the sudden death of a perfectly fit man in his mid-sixties but by the orchestrated lies peddled by Villot and those under him. They knew that a Vatican cover-up was under way.

In Rome in off-the-record briefings to reporters, the Vatican machine quickly spun three stories about the late Pope. The first - alleging weak health - is fully examined within In God's Name as is the second exercise which attempted to demolish Luciani's remarkable talents and reduce him to a grinning simpleton. 'Really it's a blessing in disguise that he died so soon; he would have been such an embarrassment to the Church.' This attack on the late Pope was mounted particularly by members of the Roman Curia. As with lies about his health, many of the media fell for it and stories directly inspired by this disinformation appeared throughout the world's press.

The third story was a traditional platitude. Luciani's work was done: the Lord had taken him away. Thus Cardinal Siri:

'... this death is not a complete mystery, nor is the event totally opaque. In thirty-three days this pontiff completed his mission ... With his style so close to the Gospel, it can be said that Pope John Paul I opened an era. He opened it and then quietly went away.' He was echoed by Cardinal Timothy Manning, '... he made his statement and then dropped off the stage.'

Other princes of the Church took another view:

'Why the lies about his health? All this nonsense about operations? Why are they lying about who found the Pope's body? Why the lies about what he was reading? What are the facts about these changes that were to have occurred the following morning? Changes within the Vatican Bank?'

Villot stonewalled on these and a host of other questions. His blanket response, that it 'was God's will', convinced very few. Cardinal Benelli's icy response was, "I thought it was God's will that Cardinal Luciani was elected." The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh?"

Inside the Vatican village the customary intrigue, vindictiveness, rumour, counter-rumour and character assassination got under way for the election of the new pope. The Curia went ruthlessly about its task of ensuring as far as possible that all rivals to their own man, the reactionary Archbishop of Genoa, Cardinal Ski, were dispatched into oblivion. But as they cut a swathe through the opposition, the Curia was also busy organising defence strategies just in case their man was not elected.

Before departing on the 7.30 a.m. flight to Rome from Warsaw on 3 October Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Cracow, Poland, interrupted his schedule to have an ECT examination on his heart and take the print-out with him. It may have seemed extraordinarily prudent for a cardinal who had attracted less than a handful of votes in the August Conclave. But he was aware that the Vatican was peddling lies about the late Pope's medical history. It would be even easier to pump out rumours about a candidate's health, especially one such as himself, whose medical history revealed a pattern of illnesses. Certainly, some of Wojtyla's colleagues viewed his actions as signs that he knew that he would not be returning to Cracow.

During the previous five days, Wojtyla had spent much of his time with his invaluable friend and ally, Bishop Deskur in Rome. This friendship went back to their years together in the secret wartime seminary in Poland. Since the war, Deskur had guided Wojtyla through the labyrinth of Vatican politics. Never would his help be more needed. Karol Wojtyla listened very carefully as Deskur listed the strengths of this rival candidate, the weaknesses of another. Then he had lunch with other countrymen including Bishop Rubin. These meetings left Karol Wojtyla in no doubt that this time he was a genuine candidate. Those who were pushing his candidacy realised that if the Italians could not unify around one of their own contenders, then the cardinals they had been lobbying would be aware of a stunning alternative. Karol Wojtyla was now obliged to draw on the acting skills he had honed as a young man. Externally a picture of detached calm, the inner self was agog at the prospect that came more clearly focused before him. So much of his early life had been a preamble to this moment. He believed deeply in divine providence and again and again would offer divine intervention as the explanation for his good fortune. Providence, in the shape of a good contact, a patron or a protector, called with remarkable frequency on Wojtyla.

In May 1938 the Archbishop of Cracow, Adam Sapieha, came to Wadowice to give the sacrament of confirmation to those who were about to graduate. The student assigned to the task of welcoming Sapieha in the name of the college was Karol Wojtyla, speaking in Latin. When the young man had finished, there was a thoughtful expression on the face of the Archbishop. 'Will he enter the seminary?' he asked religious teacher Father Edward Zacher.

Karol responded for himself. 'I'm going to study Polish literature and philology (language).'

The Archbishop was disappointed: 'What a pity.'

Sapieha was destined to become one of Wojtyla's early protectors. There had been others before, especially his father. By the time that Karol senior died in February 1941, providence had already ensured that while many of the twenty-year-old's peer group would perish before the end of the Second World War, he would survive; his French tutor, Jadwiga Lewaj, had a quiet word with her good friend Henryk Kulakowski, the president of the Polish section of Solvay, a chemical firm with a large plant in the Cracow suburb of Borek Falecki. At the time all able-bodied Polish males were candidates for forced labour in Germany or working on border fortifications on the Eastern Front. Either route led to a brutal and usually short life. Working at Solvay carried a large range of benefits. It was in some respects a self-contained village with residential homes, containing a surgery with a resident doctor, staff canteen, a shop and a gymnasium. Apart from his wages and the perk of vodka coupons that could be traded on the black market, Karol Woltyla also carried at all times his guarantee that he would have a good war: an Ausweis, or identity card, that indicated that the bearer was employed in a kriegswichtig industry, work that was essential to the Third Reich's war effort. The caustic soda the company created had a variety of uses, not least in the production of bombs.

It was during his wartime years at Solvay that a vocation for the priesthood first stirred within Karol Wojtyla. At this time Archbishop Sapieha had created a secret seminary and in August 1944 Karol moved with a number of other young men into the safety of his residence. Wojtyla was ordained as a priest on 1 November 1946. Two weeks later, Sapieha, newly promoted to cardinal, sent Karol Wojtyla to Rome to study for his first doctorate. The archbishop had already marked out Wojtyla for fast-track treatment. The special consideration shown to Wojtyla extended to making funds available so that during the vacations he could tour around Europe along with a fellow priest.

Wojtyla returned to Cracow in June 1948 after obtaining his doctorate with maximum marks in virtually every section. There Cardinal Sapieha continued to carefully nurture his young protégé: seven months as a village curate were followed by a post as student chaplain in the St Florian's diocese of Cracow where he rapidly developed a devoted following among the undergraduates. The position also gave him the opportunity to mix with the movers and shakers of Cracow society. Wojtyla displayed a remarkable ability at networking and during these years friendships and contacts that would last a lifetime were forged.

On 23 July 1951 Woltyla's protector, the Prince-Cardinal Sapieha, died at the age of eighty-five. The Cardinal had seen something special about Karol Wojtyla at their first brief meeting in May 1938. Archbishop Baziak, already established in Cracow as Sapieha's successor, had discussed Wojtyla's future at great length with the Prince-Cardinal. Seemingly, the baton had been passed. A few months later Baziak ordered Wojtyla to take a two-year leave of absence to study for another doctorate. This would qualify him to teach at a University. Wojtyla was opposed to this course of action. He wanted to stay at St Florian's where his involvement with the students was going from strength to strength, but Baziak was adamant, commanding that Wojtyla also move home from the priest's house at St Florian's and that any pastoral work he wished to undertake during the two-year sabbatical had to first be approved by Archbishop Baziak. The doctorate came first and led to a thesis, a degree and a job as a university professor.

Baziak's aim was simple: he wished to combat the tide of communist repression that was sweeping over Eastern Europe. The communists were attempting to plant assistant pastors who were members of the secret police within a great many dioceses, aiming to inevitably control the Church's infrastructure from the inside. The continuing conflict between Church and State as to who had the right to appoint bishops grew more intense. The communists came up with a radical solution: any bishops who did not meet with their approval were forcibly removed or arrested and imprisoned. In 1952 among the victims were the Bishop of Katowice, Stanislaw Adamski, and two auxiliary bishops. In November that year Wojtyla's latest mentor and protector Archbishop Baziak and his auxiliary bishop Stanislaw Rospond were arrested, an action that shook the Catholic community of Cracow to its core. Karol Wojtyla said nothing, publicly or privately, and two days after the arrests went on a skiing holiday to the Marty Mountains. Two weeks later the Primate of Poland, Archbishop Wyszynski, was advised that the Pope had named him cardinal. It was a promotion richly deserved; when the news reached Wyszynski he had just denounced the arrests of Baziak and his fellow bishop from a Warsaw pulpit. The regime's response was a refusal to grant Wyszynski an exit visa, a petty gesture that denied the Cardinal the honour of kneeling before the Pope while the red biretta was placed upon his head.

The regime's approach to the Church was that of a paranoid schizophrenic, ranging from the conciliatory to the cruel; arrests would be followed by permission to hold a great procession or pilgrimage where Wyszynski was free to make a speech on human rights. In January 1953 the situation in Poland deteriorated to a new level of barbarity when four priests and three lay workers within the Cracow archdiocese went on trial in a military court charged with collaborating with the CIA and illegally trading in foreign currency. After a five-day trial, including scathing denunciations of the late Cardinal Sapieha, Father Jozef Lelito and two of the lay workers were found guilty and sentenced to death. The sentences were subsequently commuted and all seven men were given long terms of imprisonment.

Throughout all this turmoil Karol Wojtyla continued with his pastoral duties at St Florian's. During the academic year he would give lectures to the students on ethics, he organised retreats, said Mass, heard confessions and studied diligently in preparation for his thesis. Nonetheless, he continued to remain totally uninvolved in the life-and-death struggle of his Church to secure the most basic freedoms. No amount of arrests and imprisonments could stir him into protesting.

In some ways this was a replay of his response to the Second World War when he took no part in armed resistance and urged his friends to do the same, declaring that the Polish Army had been defeated and that it was useless to fight on. During the last three months of 1939 the German invaders turned their attentions to the mentally ill and vulnerable of Poland. They began by emptying the psychiatric clinics in the north of the country. Over 1,000 Poles were transported from a number of the clinics to a wood beside the village of Piasnica Wielki and shot. A year later nearly 300 elderly people were told they were going to the town of Padernice. No such town has ever existed. The lorry conveying them stopped in a wooded area on the outskirts of Kalisz. They were gassed by the lorries' exhaust fumes and buried in the woods of Winiary. As early as October 1939, less than a month after the German occupation of Poland had begun, ghettos for the Jews were being created. Sometimes they were crammed into a section of a city that had historically been occupied by Jews, as in Warsaw where the Jews were forced to build a wall around the designated area and to pay for the wall.

During these same months Wojtyla wrote to his close friend Mieczyslaw Kotlarczyk:

'First and foremost, I must tell you that I am keeping busy. Some people are currently dying of boredom, but not I, I have surrounded myself with books, dug in with Arts and Sciences. I am working. Would you believe that I am virtually running out of time! I read, I write, I study, I think, I pray, I struggle with myself. At times I feel great oppression, depression, despair, evil. At other times, as if I were seeing the dawn, the aurora, a great light.'

His letters show an extraordinary preoccupation with his own activities. Poland was enduring the most grievous ordeal in its history and yet this exceptionally gifted graduate wrote fulsome letters which harked back to the pre-war days at university.


Excerpted from The Power and the Glory by David Yallop Copyright © 2007 by Poetic Product Ltd. . Excerpted by permission.
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.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations     ix
Preface     xi
Part 1
God's Will?     3
'It Depends on Whose Liberation Theology...'     40
A Very Polish Revolution     84
Appointment in St Peter's Square     112
Part 2
Vatican Incorporated I     133
Papal Politics I: A Holy Alliance?     152
The Market Place     202
The Jewish Question     234
Beyond Belief     270
Papal Politics II: After the Cold War     355
Thou Shalt Not...     377
Vatican Incorporated II     413
The Village     442
Epilogue     479
Author's note     497
Notes     500
Bibliography     502
Index     517
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2007

    A reviewer

    In this extraordinary book, investigative journalist David Yallop examines the record of Pope John Paul II. Yallop details the many scandals of John Paul¿s rule, especially the cover-up of widespread sexual abuse by paedophile priests across the world, including 1,200 in the USA. In Britain, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O¿Connor connived at the criminal offence of abusing children by helping priests to evade justice so that they could continue to abuse. He appointed a known paedophile as Chaplain to Gatwick Airport, where he could prey on new arrivals to Britain. Cardinal Basil Hume covered up the widespread sexual abuse at Ampleforth College, a Catholic private school. Cardinal Ratzinger, John Paul¿s close colleague, now Pope Benedict, recently reminded every bishop of the penalties that his Church imposes on those who make allegations of sexual abuse to the civil authorities. The Church puts itself above the law to protect itself, not its victims. They tell us all how to lead our lives, on pain of eternal damnation, while they hide abusing priests and attack those who expose the crimes. What hypocrisy! John Paul said, ¿The Roman Catholic Church is not a democracy. Dissent from the Magisterium is incompatible with being a Catholic.¿ The Church is an autocracy and loves other autocracies. John Paul granted a `personal prelature¿ to Opus Dei, making this openly fascist body answerable to no one but himself. Yallop depicts John Paul¿s hatred of Liberation Theology and his consistent support for brutal right-wing tyrannies in Latin America. He shows John Paul¿s links with the CIA: John Paul and CIA head William Casey had both supported Franco in the 1930s war in Spain. As Pope, John Paul beatified 471 Franco supporters, but not one Republican. Ratzinger volunteered to join the Hitler Youth and served in the Wehrmacht. It is no coincidence that there is a German Pope, when Germany is trying to foist a Bismarckian Constitution on the European Union. The Roman Catholic Church operated the infamous ratlines for 30,000 Nazi, Italian and Croat war criminals after World War Two, with the connivance of the US and British governments. (No wonder Blair is so keen to join the Church.) In the 1980s, Germany and the Vatican backed the destruction of Yugoslavia, to `free¿ Catholic Croatia. Mussolini¿s deal with the Papacy is still in force: the Italian state gives half a billion pounds annually to the Church. Yallop shows how John Paul defended the corrupt Vatican Bank, the Mafia¿s bank, which launders round $50 billion a year. As a member of the Vatican Secretariat said of the absurd `visions of the Virgin Mary¿ at Medjugorje in Yugoslavia, ¿Of course it¿s a fraud but the money is genuine.¿ What did John Paul achieve? By trying to hide the Church¿s vice and corruption, he brought it lasting shame. So less than half the world¿s Catholics even attend Mass and numbers are falling rapidly. 72% of the Spanish people think that the state should stop its £100 million annual handout to the Church. Like other reactionaries, all his scheming resulted only in the failure of his cause.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2007

    Yallop sharpens his axe

    Putting the over a dozen typos aside, Mr Yallop once again sharpens his axe and swings it at the Vatican. Is he accountable? No. The Church will be sued but will never sue. This give this author the green light to cast accusations on dead Cardinals and uses the 'unnamed sources' ploy as a crutch.

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