Welcome to the tenth installment in my epic examination of the notorious Propaganda Due (P2) Masonic lodge. For those of you just joining me or trying to catch up, here is a brief run down of what has been previously covered: With the first installment I briefly outlined the legacy of P2 as well as the background of its Venerable Grand Master, former Blackshirt and SS man Licio Gelli. Part two addressed P2's potential ties to a series of terror bombings that rocked Italy during a period known as the "Years of Lead" as well as its links to the Lisbon-based, European wide terror network known as Aginter Press.
The third installment I moved along to P2's role in what is often referred to as the "Great Vatican Banking Scandal" or the "Banco Ambrosiano affair" by addressing the backgrounds of three of its key players, Bishop Paul Marcinkus (a suspected P2 initiate) and financiers Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi (both of which were known P2 initiates). Part four addressed the possibility that at the core of the scandal was illegal arms trafficking that contributed enormously to what is known as the Iran-Contra affair. The fifth installment addressed the Rothschild bank dynasty's role in this scandal as well as a series of armed robberies that unfolded in Europe possibly linked to the scandal and the bizarre, ritualistic death of Calvi.
|Paul Marcinkus (top), MIchele Sindona (middle) and Roberto Calvi (bottom), the key figures in the Great Vatican Banking Scandal|
With part nine, the most recent installment, I began to address the backers of P2, beginning with its ties to what is commonly referred to as Operation Gladio (Gladio was only the name of the Italian component, however), a "stay-behind" network spanning the whole of Western Europe that the CIA and British intelligence established at the onset of the Cold War. In theory this network's sole purpose was to wage a guerrilla war against the Soviet Union should it invade Europe but its extensive linkage to arms and drug trafficking, numerous acts of terrorism, and its ties to numerous Nazi and fascist war criminals has led many researchers to doubt Gladio's official purpose.
|a patch used by the "legionaries" of Gladio|
Opus Dei is a difficult subject to broach due to the use of the order in Dan Brown's infamous novel. In said work the organization has largely been reduced to the status of super villains, but the influence of the real life institute has been both vast and subtle. To this day the role Opus Dei played in the Great Vatican banking scandal and its ties to P2 had largely been ignored. Before addressing these ties, however, a bit should be said about the organization to separate the reality from Brown's fever dreams.
"Opus Dei is a Roman Catholic organization of international dimensions. Though its actual membership is relatively small (estimates vary between 60,000 and 80,000), its influence is vast. It is a secret society, something which is strictly forbidden by the Church. Opus Dei denies that it is a secret organization but refuses to make the membership list available. It was founded by a Spanish priest, Monsignor Josemaria Escriva, in 1928. It is to the extreme right wing of the Catholic Church, a political fact that has ensured that the organization has attracted enemies as well as members. Its members are composed of a small percentage of priests, about 5 per cent, and lay persons of either sex. Though people from many walks of life can be found among its members, it seeks to attract those from the upper reaches of the professional classes, including students and graduates who are aspiring to executive status. Dr. John Roche, an Oxford University lecturer and former member opus Dai, described it as 'sinister, secretive and Orwellian.' It may be that its members' preoccupation with self mortification is the cause for much of the news media hostility that has been directed towards the sect. Certainly the idea of flogging yourself on your bare back and wearing strips of metal with inward-pointing prongs around the thigh for the greater glory of God might prove difficult for the majority of people in the latter part of the twentieth century to accept. No one, however, should doubt the total sincerity of the Opus Dei membership. The are are equally devoted to a task of wider significance: the takeover of the Roman Catholic Church. That should be cause for the greatest concern not only to Roman Catholics but everybody...
"This organization has, according to its own claims, members working in over 600 newspapers, reviews and scientific publications, scattered around the world. It has members in over 50 radio and television stations. In the 1960s three of its members were in the Spanish dictator Franco's cabinet, crating Spain's 'economic miracle.' The head of the huge Rumasa conglomerate in Spain, Jose Mateos, is a member Opus Dei; he is also currently on the run after building a network of corruption similar to that of the Calvi empire, as recently revealed. Opus Dei is massively wealthy. Until recently, when it changed hands, anyone walking into an Augustus Barnett wine store in England was putting money into Opus Dei."
(In God's Name, David Yallop, pgs. 250-251)
|Escriva, Opus Dei's founder|
"Penitential practices fall under paragraph 260 of the 1950 Constitution:
The pious custom of chastising the body and reducing it to servitude by wearing a small cilice for at least two hours a day, by taking the discipline at least once a week, and by sleeping on the ground, will be faithfully maintained, taking into account only a person's health.
"The 'instruments of mortification' are given to members in little brown sacks. One former member alleged they had been given to children only fifteen years of age. The same young man was told that the amount of mortification he undertook could be increased with the approval of his spiritual director. He was also told how Escriva's blood spattered the walls of the bathroom from the ferocity with which he beat himself.
"A report in the Liverpool Catholic newspaper, the Catholic Pictorial, for 29 November 1981 described the introduction of young girls into the organization. They were introduced gradually to 'the "mortifications" practiced by Opus Dei members. They were encouraged to kiss the floor upon rising instantly to the morning door knock.' They had 'cold showers and long periods of silence.' They wore the cilis (sic) – a spiked chain – around the thigh for a two-hour period each day (not on Sundays and Feast days) 'and applied a rope whip to their buttocks once a week.'
"Some of these practices still exist within Opus. They are an integral part of the spiritual formation of its members. The way Escriva beat himself with the discipline is obviously a matter of pride to the members. And it is also the case that, with the increasing understanding of the unhealthy psychology of these basically masochistic acts, they have quietly been dropped from the customary behavior of other religious orders."
(Opus Dei, Michael Walsh, pgs. 110-111)
"One pious practiced urged upon readers of Camino is the very impressive, if somewhat morbid and theologically doubtful, suggestion that they are to put themselves before a plain wooden cross and to imagine themselves upon it... The first requirement of the section of the 1950 Constitution devoted to 'The observance of pious customs' requires that: 'Where three or four members live together as a family there should be set up in an appropriate place a black cross without the figure of the crucified. On the feast day of the Invention and Exaltation of the Cross it should be adorned with crowns of flowers from morning to night' (paragraph 234). 'From morning to night' should more strictly be translated 'from Prime to Vespers,' the first and next to last 'hours' or divisions of the divine office. The feasts of the 'Invention' (commemorating the finding by St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, of the cross) and the 'Exaltation,' 13 May and 14 September, respectively, are major feasts in the Opus calendar."
(Opus Dei, Michael Walsh, pgs. 107-108)Dutroux Affair," a scandal that implicated the Christian Social Party (PSC, Belgium's equivalent of Italy's P2-linked Christian Democrat Party) as well as the same milieu of extreme right wing networks (some of them affiliated with Gladio) that have been noted throughout this series. The great Institute for the Study of Globalization and Covert Politics notes:
"... In Belgium this milieu has largely been represented by the Vatican and US intelligence-linked right wing of the PSC, and coincidentally, besides numerous accusations of child abuse against PSC members, some have also been accused of ritual abuse and Satanism, albeit largely through Opus Dei.
"First up are the claims of Jacques Thoma, who once was a treasurer of the PSC youth division. His boss was the notorious CEPIC member Jean-Paul Dumont, the alleged child abuser..:
Jacques Thoma was at a restaurant with Sara de Wachter (01/10/55) when he broke down in tears. He participated in 1985-86 in several satanic sessions close to Charleroi.
He is very afraid. He was a treasurer of the youth section of the PSC. He often met with Michel Dewolf, Philippe Sala and Jean-Paul Dumont. They tried to direct Thoma toward Opus Dei what they considered Nec Plus Ultra [Latin for 'nothing further beyond'].
Under the pretext of initiation tests for Opus Dei he was brought to a Black Mass with sexual acts. He mentions the presence of girls from a country in the East (13-14 years)... He was drugged before being taken into a room with masked people who had dressed in black robes. The participants drank blood. He was placed in the presence of a naked little girl laying down on an altar - she had died.
He encountered the grand master, Francois-Joseph, who told him that he was a police informant and that he had to be careful... Francois-Joseph is a notary implicated in the trafficking of girls for prostitution from the East.
He wanted to leave but was drugged again. He woke up the following day in his car. He left the party [PSC] and made a declaration to the BSR [Special Investigations Unit of the gendarmerie] in Charleroi.
"X4, who also claimed to have been taken to Satanist black masses, fingered Paul Vanden Boeynants, Dumont's boss, as a violent abuser and added that Opus Dei members (like these) had belonged to her most sadistic clique.."
|Paul Vanden Boeynants|
" 'Berlingske Tidende can reveal that Absalon is the Danish branch of the international Gladio network. This has been confirmed by a member of Absalon to Berlingske Tidende who wishes at present to remain unnamed,' a Danish daily newspaper sensationally headlined its discoveries in 1990. The source, named Q by the newspaper, confirmed what Colby had revealed in his book. 'Colby's story is absolutely correct. Absalon was created in the early 1950s,' the source Q related. The network, according to Q, was composed of right-wing men in order to guarantee staunch anti-Communism. 'Colby was member of the world spanning laymen catholic organization Opus Dei, which , using a modern term, could be called right-wing. Opus Dei played a central role in the setting up of Gladio in the whole of Europe and also in Denmark,' Q claimed. 'The leader of Gladio was Harder who was probably not a Catholic. But there are not many Catholics in Denmark and the basic elements making up the Danish Gladio were former [World War II] resistance people – former prisoners of Tysk, Vestre Faengsel, Froslevlejren, Neuengamme and also of the Danish Brigade.' "
(NATO's Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, pgs. 169-170)
"The sense of all this was that Opus Dei's methodology consisted of using, if necessary, unclean hands to achieve certain of its secular aims and that Calvi, Gelli, Ortolani and the Propaganda network, having similar political aims, where appropriate assets to be exploited and then abandon. As far as pouring resources into the battle against Marxist subversion in Latin America was concerned, Opus Dei allegedly decided that a secondary Spanish bank would make a good partner for Calvi's Banco Ambrosiano.
"In the mid-1970s, Calvi started to show an interest in Banco Occidental of Madrid. Its shares were listed on the Madrid stock exchange. A block of 100,000 shares, representing 10 per cent of its capital, was held privately by Swiss company, Zenith Finance S.A. Dr Arthur Wiederkehr was not one Zenith board at the time but would become a director in 1980. Calvi acquired the shares for 80 million Swiss francs, ten times more than the going market price which was an unusual thing for an astute banker to do. He placed them in a company owned by United Trading.
"Banco Occidental belonged to Gregorio de Diego, an enterprising freebooters originally from Salamanca. Diego represented everything that Opus Dei admired in the free enterprise ethic. He was clever, aggressively inquisitive and obviously someone gifted for attracting capital...
"Diego died of a heart attack in the arms of his mistress. Though not a point in his favor, it could hardly be held against the son, also called Gregorio de Diego, who inherited the family empire. Although he had no banking experience Diego II became Occidental's managing director, appointing as chairman of the Conde Tomas de Marsal, a Spanish grandee who, like Ortolani, was a secret knight of the papal household.
"Under Conde de Marsal, Banco Occidental moved into the investment banking field, taking positions in industrial concerns, such as cement works which fitted well with Diego's property development activities. In the early 1970s, the bank opened a representative office in Rome, primarily for Tomas de Marsal's convenience as frequently he visited the Vatican.
"In 1976, Banco Ambrosiano made a loan to Occidental which it used to purchase 1 per cent of Ambrosiano stock. At the same time, Banco Ambrosiano increased its holding in Banco Occidental to 510,000 shares, for which it paid another 40 million Swiss Francs (roughly $18 million), and Calvi went on Banco Occidental's board of directors. In addition to Conde de Marsal, who insiders described as a religious fanatic, other directors included Pio Cabanillas, the Venerable P3 Master. Like his P2 counterpart, Cabanillas kept secret files on most of Spain's important people...
"Diego surrounded himself with Opus Dei members. In this respect his bank was to all intents an Opus Dei bank. His aide-de-camp was supernumerary Eloy Ramirez, for many years the representative in Mexico for Banco Espanol de Credito (Banesto), Spain's largest commercial bank. Diego hired him for his Latin American contacts. He always accompanied Diego on foreign trips. When they arrived in the country for the first time, Ramirez would pay a visit to his brothers in the faith and they opened all the necessary doors. But the real eminenve grise was Diego's brother-in-law, Fernando Perez Minguez, an art connoisseur and antiques dealer who kept an office in the bank although he was not officially on the payroll. Like the Ramirez couple, Fernando Perez and his wife were Opus Dei supernumeraries.
"Banco Occidental concentrated on developing outlets in Latin America and Florida by acquiring participations in small commercial banks and buying hotels. A member of Occidental's legal department also suspected that Calvi used Banco Occidental as the hinge for arms transactions with Latin American dictatorships. These transactions required Calvi's frequent presence in Madrid. But to stay overnight in the Spanish capital would have attracted attention, so United Trading purchased an executive jet to carry him to and from Madrid in the same day. Instructions were given to Occidental staff never to mention the Learjet when talking on the telephone with the Ambrosiano offices in Milan, suggesting that the staff in Millan was not supposed to know of the aircraft's existence.
"In Madrid, Calvi met frequently with Cabanillas to discuss the possibility of bidding for control of El Pais, because it was feared that Madrid's largest circulation newspaper was leaning too far to the left. The project fitted in well with Opus Dei's Apostolate of Public Opinion and also the P2 and/or Vatican plans to take control of Corriere della Sera, Italy's leading newspaper. Matias Cortes Domingues, a top Madrid lawyer who acted as Banco Occidental's independent counsel, was said to be advising Cabanillas on the takeover plans. Matias' brother, Antonio, also lawyer, was an Opus Dei numerary."
(Their Kingdom Come, Robert Hutchison, pgs. 264-266)
|Venerable P3 Grand Master Pio Cabanillas|
Lucien Gregoire has compellingly argued that Opus Dei's ties to P2 were even more extensive than this. As was noted in part one, Venerable Grand Master Licio Gelli was allegedly befriended by Opus Dei founder Jose Maria Escriva when Gelli was fighting in the Spanish Civil War as a volunteer. Later on the two men became involved in the Ratlines together. Gregoire alleges that the links between the two men and their organizations went even further than this.
"How these right-wing organizations operated in harmony is best demonstrated by the interrelationships of some of the players.
"Agostio Casaroli was a longtime friend of Licio Gelli, founder of the clandestine Masonic Lodge, Propaganda Due (P2), and José Maria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei. An Opus Dei member since the world war, Agostino Casaroli was inducted into the Zürich branch of P2 Lodge No. 041-076 on September 28, 1957.
"As Foreign Minister with a focus on communism, Casaroli spent much time at the front in Poland. It was he who served as the link between the Polish Cardinal of Krakow –Karol Wojtyla– and Opus Dei which eventually made possible Wojtyla's rise to the papacy.
"He also introduced Karol Wojtyla to Licio Gelli. It was that Wojtyla and Gelli were avid skiers which molded their friendship. According to Wojtyla's secretary –Stanislaw Dzwisz – John Paul II took more than one hundred ski vacations during his papacy, most of them to ski lodges in the Abruzzo region owned by Gelli.
"Opus Dei established a substantial treasury after the war when in its alliance with Franco it was paid handsomely for arranging the escape of Nazi war criminals through Madrid to Argentina. By 1950 it had emerged as a major investment house in Europe.
"The Opus Dei-P2 coalition went back to before the world war when Jose Maria Escriva– founder of Opus Dei – and Licio Gelli – founder of P2 – were partners in the Franco regime cabinet.
"In addition to the commonality of Escriva and Gelli, the key operating officers of Opus Dei held the corresponding jobs in P2. For example, José Mateos as treasurer of both organizations pulled the purse strings of the Opus Dei-P2 coalition; both organizations dealing with the same commodities in the same markets with the same bank – Ambrosiano; the reason the Opus Dei-P2-Ambrosiano coalition emerged as the largest foreign investor in Central America.
"This clandestine union was defined by the courts that tried both the terrorist activities and the bank scandal many times.
"For example, in connection with their convictions involving the Bologna bombing and other terrorist activities, in April 1998 Licio Gelli and Jose Mateos were brought to trial in connection with the Vatican bank scandal. The prosecution proved they had conspired with the Vatican and factions in the CIA in the scandal. Sentenced to twelve years, Gelli disappeared on the eve of his imprisonment.
"Yet some officers of Opus Dei – believed to be – not proved to be – officers of P2 escaped trial; immunized from the Italian courts by John Paul II's authorization of the Prelature of Opus Dei retroactive to the day before Banco Ambrosiano went under."
(Murder in the Vatican, Lucien Gregoire, pgs. 319-320)
This researcher has found no link between Agostio Casaroli and Opus Dei, but there can be little dispute that Jose Mateos had key dealings with either organization. David Yallop noted:
"Jose Mateos, known as Spain's richest man, funneled millions into Opus Dei. A considerable amount of this money came from illegal deals with Calvi, perpetuated in both Spain and Argentina. P2 paymaster and Opus Dei paymaster: could this be what the Church means when it talks of God moving in mysterious ways?"
"In God's Name, David Yallop, pg. 251)
"On August 23, 1982, the Vatican announced John Paul II had 'authorized Opus Dei a Prelature of the Holy See' effective August 5, 1982 immunizing its officers from Italian courts. The timing of the Prelature retroactive to the precise day before the bank's collapse is compelling evidence the Pope knew officers of Opus Dei had been involved in the fraudulent deception of European investors – The Great Vatican Banking Scandal – and the murders surrounding it.
"The Pope was attempting to immunize those outside the Vatican namely Opus Dei Primate Alvaro Portillo and its Treasurer Jose Mateos and its wealthiest member Licio Gelli. He was not trying to protect those inside the Vatican including himself, Casaroli, Caprio or Marcinkus as they were already immunized by the sovereignty of the Vatican afforded under the Lateran Treaty."
(Murder in the Vatican, Lucien Gregoire, pgs. 373-374)
|Pope John Paul II|
The Anglo-American Establishment needed organizations such as P2 and Opus Dei to maintain its hegemony over Europe but the agendas of these groups had little in common other than their anti-Communism. The Anglo-American Establishment has long struggled to maintain control over these elements and the exposure of P2 seems to have been a bid to reign in the P2-Opus network.
The attempted assassination of John Paul II (who may have favored the objectives of the Anglo- American Establishment more so than that of his backers in Opus Dei) was the response of the P2-Opusian nexus and the Prelature of Opus Dei was the capitulation. P2, a lower level organization, was taken down but its power brokers in Opus Dei were kept both hidden and protected. While the P2-Opus Dei faction did not get a more robust confrontation with the Soviets in Europe, they did receive numerous conflicts in Central America (as well as Afghanistan) to profit off of.
And with that I shall wrap up for now. In the next installment I shall consider an even older secret order closely linked to P2. Stay tuned.