The Dentith Files – P2

Between 2008 and 2010, Matthew Dentith first joined 95bFM’s Simon Pound, then José Barbosa, on Sunday mornings to talk about conspiracy theories. Listen, as they say, again!

This week, a Satanic sign-off and some discussion of the (various) P2 Conspiracy Theories.

I actually wrote up some notes for this one, which I’m pasting below for the sake of the future historians.

The P2 Conspiracy

Questions we could deal with:

The Freemason murder theory; how viable was that?

Do organisations like the Catholic Church, really know what their subsidiaries (the Vatican Bank and Banco Ambrosiano) are up to? How culpable are they? Are involved in the Conspiracy are they?

Was P2 up to no good?

Is ‘Spaghetti Hoops’ worth watching?

The notion of a Secret Lodge (P2) within a quasi-secret society (Grand Orient Freemasonry).

Background:

Propaganda Due was one of the Masonic lodges of the Grand Orient of Italy. Founded in 1877, it became famous in the latter part of the 20th Century for its involvement in a potential Conspiracy to overthrow the Italian Government and for its role in the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, which was affiliated with the Vatican bank of the Roman Catholic Church.

Prominent members: Slivio Berlusconi (prior to his involvement in politics)

Victor Emmanual, grandson of the last Italian King.

Propaganda Due become a prominent lodge under the leadership of Licio Gelli. He took a moribund lodge and used it to create a network of Establishment figures, already Masons, who could not be actively involved in rituals due to the scrutiny of the reigning Christian Democrat party. In this respect, Propaganda Due was a secret lodge (as opposed to the public lodges of Grand Orient Freemasonry), which were illegal in Italy.

Between 1981 and 1982 the lodge become public when a series of documents were found during the investigation of the collapse of the banks of Michelle Sindona. Along with a list of members, including Slivio Berlusconi (prior to his involvement in politics) and Victor Emmanual (grandson of the last Italian King), two documents were found. They were the “Memorandum on the Italian situation” and the “Plan of Democratic Rebirth,’ which advocated the goal of transforming Italy into a permanent right-wing, anti-communist authoritarian democracy in the case that the Communists ever got into power, using bribery and corruption as the means to the end.

The most interest part of P2, at least to me, is its involvement with the Vatican.

The Banco Ambrosiano, founded in 1896, was a deliberately Catholic bank that would serve moral and pious works. In the early 1970s Roberto Calvi became its general manager and then its chairman. He brought in the Vatican Bank, the Institute for Works of Religion, as he expanded Ambrosiano’s sphere of influence.

Calvi was a member of P2 and he used the bank as a platform for getting P2 control over media interests. He also used the bank to launder monies and inflate share prices for the benefit of himself, friends the and the Mafia.

In 1978, when Pope John Paul I became Pope he ordered an investigation into wrongdoing at the Institute of Religious Works. He died 33 days later and some have argued that he was murdered because he discovered a scandal.

When the list of P2 members was revealed in 1981, Calvi was outed. Calvi had warned the current Pontiff, Pope John Paul II, that if Ambrosiano collapsed the Church would suffer the most, hinting that the Church’s involvement in money-laundering would impact its reputation. It is interesting to note that the Roman Catholic Church never accepted legal responsibility for the associated actions of Ambrosiano, it has admittedly some degree of moral responsibility.

Although initially imprisoned, Calvi was released pending an appeal and went back to work. In 1982 US$1.287 billion dollars was discovered to be unaccounted for and Calvi fled Italy, via Venice, to London. Eight days later he was found hanging beneath Blackfriars Bridge.

Calvi’s death was initially ruled a suicide but recent investigation has suggested it was murder. The bricks in his pockets had none of his finger prints upon them and there was no rust from the metalwork on the soles of his shoes. Whilst some have fingered the Mafia, to whom he owed large sums of money, others have finger the Masons of P2. It is said that P2 members referred to one another as the “frati neri,’ or ‘black friars’ so the bridge from which he was hung has a certain significance.

(The ‘Comic Strip Presents…’ troupe made a half-hour TV episode about Calvi’s death, called ‘Spaghetti Hoops,’ which is rather excellent.)


About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.

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