John Paul I was found dead sitting up in his bed shortly before dawn on 29 September 1978, just 33 days into his papacy. The Vatican reported that the near-66-year-old Pope most likely died the previous night of a heart attack.
However, a degree of uncertainty accompanies this diagnosis since an autopsy was not performed. This uncertainty, coupled with inconsistent statements made following the Pope's death, has led to a number of conspiracy theories concerning his death. These statements concern who found the Pope's body, at what time he was found, and what papers the Pope had in his hand.
Immediately following the Pope's death, rumours began. One rumour claimed that a visiting prelate, Nikodim, had recently died from drinking "poisoned tea" prepared for the pope. The visiting prelate actually had died some days earlier and there was no evidence of any poison, but again, no autopsy was performed because Nikodim was embalmed almost immediately.
Another unsubstantiated rumour described the Pope's plans to dismiss senior Vatican officials over allegations of corruption. The suddenness of his embalming raised suspicions that it had been done to prevent an autopsy. The Vatican insisted that a papal autopsy was prohibited under Vatican law. However, one source (the diary of Agostino Chigi) reports that an autopsy was carried out on the remains of Pope Pius VIII in 1830.
Nevertheless, suspicions persist to this day, particularly given the sweeping changes to Vatican personnel this Pope had already penned, along with the Mafia-riddled Italy of the time, and the number of subsequent murders of officials investigating the Vatican Bank along with its associates.
Pope John Paul I died only 33 days into his Pontificate (August 26, 1978 - September 28, 1978). It was one of the shortest reigns in the annals of the papacy. The official cause of death was myocardial infarction (a heart attack). But there was a great deal of confusion in the details of his sudden death, and many were crying - murder!
The "Smiling Pope," as he was affectionately called was born Albino Luciani on October 17, 1912 near Belluno, Italy. He was ordained in 1935, made Bishop in 1958 and became patriarch of Venice in 1969. He received his cardinal's hat in 1973. He was a staunch believer in ecumenism and the reduction of Church wealth. He was warm, humble and had no aspirations for the papacy. After Pope Paul VI died, Luciani was elected on the second day of the Conclave in 1978. He refused to wear the papal tiara or to be carried in the gestatorial chair. He was praised as a liberal reformer who read Mark Twain. He was on a mission to reverse the Church's position on contraception, cleaning up the Vatican bank and dismissing many Masonic cardinals.
A word here about the Masonic cardinals:
The P-2 Lodge, as it was called, was founded in 1877 to provide for provincial Freemasons - known as Propaganda Due (P-2). It became a secret lodge in 1970 to recruit men of right-wing persuasion to prevent a Communist takeover. It was involved in a financial scandal and its offices were raided and membership lists were found. Many heads of the Italian State services, government officials, police chiefs, businessmen, journalists etc. were listed. This organization was disbanded but still operated secretly. In fact, they are still operating within Vatican circles to this very day.
Many Roman clerics were hostile towards Luciani. It was rumored he was deliberately elected by cardinals keeping secrets that he was too weak to bother them and his health would cause him to die prematurely in office. However, to the surprise and consternation of those very same cardinals, Pope John Paul I immediately investigated the Vatican Bank and wanted to clean house of any prominent prelates who were Freemasons.
He was about to make a series of dismissals and new appointments and remove those accused of financial and other misdeeds. All this has been construed as a motive for his murder.
The Vatican Bank Scandal:
The Vatican Bank (or The Institute for Works of Religion - IOR), was personally owned and operated by the Pope and made loans to religious projects all over the world. It was discovered that the bank exploited its high status and engaged in risky speculation and illegal schemes, including money laundering. Money was invested with Robert Calvi, head of the bank in Milan. He was eventually convicted for currency fraud in 1981 - (over $1.3 billion dollars was missing from bank funds). Calvi fled to England where he was found dead, hanging from a bridge in London.
Another participant in the scandal was Michele Sindona, an advisor to Pope Paul VI. Sindona was poisoned in 1986 in his prison cell. This sordid financial fraud also was linked with the Masons, the Mafia, arms dealers, political kickbacks and monies funneled through the CIA to support Solidarity in Poland.
Pope John Paul I died in September 1978, only a month after his election to the papacy. The timing of his death and the Vatican’s alleged difficulties with ceremonial and legal death procedures have fostered several conspiracy theories. British author David Yallop in 1984 wrote the book In God’s Name suggested that John Paul I died because he was about to uncover financial scandals allegedly involving the Vatican. John Cornwell responded to Yallop’s charges in 1987 with A Thief In The Night, in which he analyzed the various allegations and denied the conspiracy. According to Eugene Kennedy, writing for the New York Times, Cornwell’s book “helps to purge the air of paranoia and of conspiracy theories, showing how the truth, carefully excavated by an able journalist in a refreshing volume, does make us free.”