Was Pope John Paul I assassinated?

Does anyone still believe the consipiracy theories about Pope John Paul I being assassinated? It is covered briefly in the Wikipedia article.
I don’t think he was. The assasssination theories came about because of his very brief papacy. Any time an Italian dies under suspicious circumstances, everyone likes to think the Mafia was involved.

First Cassius and Brutus – then the Borgias – then the Mafia. It’s always been dangerous to be Italian.


I don’t think he was. He was of shaky health and was simply anxious and overwhelmed by a very important, high-stress job that he even he admitted he wasn’t up to. He was to a degree a prisoner of the Vatican, and didn’t get the best possible medical care under the circumstances. See Godfather III for a fictional account of his brief Papacy, suggesting that he was indeed murdered (in part to cover up financial skullduggery at a Vatican-controlled bank).


The bank scandal and the shady activities of Propaganda Due were quite real, but I’d probably knock off a half dozen accountants or auditors (low profile, more likely to stumble across the skulduggery) than target a super-visible guy who would be unlikely to have much first-hand knowledge of complex financial fraud.

I read that he simply forgot to pack his medication amid the flurry of activity surrounding his ascension.

I’ve heard it theorized that they deliberately chose a “placeholder” Pope whom they knew wouldn’t last long to give them more time to find a “real” Pope. IANACatholic, and maybe one will correct me, but I read a lot about Popes and the process during Benedict’s selection and I remembering reading this.

I’d be surprised…or at least, if they did consider him a placeholder, they didn’t expect he’d die so soon. His death and the need to call for a new conclave so soon after the last one ruined the Vatican budget, so much so, when John Paul II saw the 1979 figures, he called all the cardinals to Rome for an emergency meeting…the first time it had happened in about 400 years. Between that and the Banco Ambrosio collapse, it didn’t run a surplus again until the late 80s-early 90s (and is in financial trouble this year because of the weak dollar).

Except that they had tried that in the last conclave-but-one (1958), only to discover that even a supposed stop-gap appointment could make quite a difference.

There’ve been several stories about prominent cardinals who feigned ill health or frailty in hopes of being elected pope by peers who just saw them as placeholders, but then showed remarkable recoveries after ascending the papal throne. John Paul I, alas, wasn’t one of these.

There is at least one book on the topic of JP I’s purported assassination, In God’s Name: an Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I