George Lucien Gregoire, a Gay man, happened to be boyhood best friends with John Champney who grew up to become a Catholic priest and was for a while the personal secretary to Albino Luciani, the man who, in 1978, became Pope John Paul I but who then died—mysteriously—just thirty-three days after his election to the Papacy. Champney “happened” to die the very next day, killed by a hit and run driver outside the walls of the Vatican (along with another some twelve people related to John Paul I who also died mysteriously in ensuing months).
Gregoire has made it one his life’s missions to bring attention to what he sees as the murder of this Pope who had promised to be a truly revolutionary figure in the history of religion. Had he remained Pope, Luciani would probably have changed the Church’s position of birth control, priestly celibacy and, notably, homosexuality.
White Crane previously reviewed Gregoire’s book Murder in the Vatican. Now that book has been rewritten and reorganized. The story is now presented as “Two Books in One Volume:” The Revolutionary Life of John Paul and The Vatican Murders of 1978.
Conspiracy theorists will love this book. It certainly makes one wonder. But more important than the questions about all the deaths that seemed to follow from Albino Luciani’s elevation to the Papacy is the presentation of this man’s modern and sensible ideas about what religion should be. The world really did suffer a tragedy and the evolution of consciousness was set back by whatever machinations cut short the term of John Paul I.
The new edition of the book is better organized than the first. And the story of John Paul I and his “revolutionary” but imminently sensible ideas, has been told in yet another volume by Lucien Gregoire titled White Light Dark Night. Gay Catholics, especially, should be interested in these various accounts by this Gay writer who just “happened” to be close enough to see what the world wasn’t allowed to see.
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Toby Johnson is the author and editor of countless fine books like Gay Spirituality, and Charmed Lives. He is also former publisher of White Crane Journal and currently Reviews editor. He lives in San Antonio Texas. Visit him at www.tobyjohnson.com