P2: Propaganda Due
A secret society within the Grand Orient Lodge of Egyptian Freemasonry. Organized by Licio Gelli as part of the CIA's Gladio operation. They were convicted of engineering the Vatican Banking Scandal of the 1970s (alluded to in The Godfather part 3), several terrorist bombings, and the highjacking of a Bavarian train in 1980. This conspiracy used the Banco Ambrosiano and Vatican Bank in order to launder money and commit various acts of fraud in order to pull off a fascist coup in Italy (which suited the CIA just fine, as they considered anything better than Communists, even fascists. Especially fascists--why? one man: General Reinhard Gehlen--Hitler's chief of Soviet Intelligence and post-war organizer of the CIA). The P2 had ties to the Mafia, the Knights of Malta, and some allege Colombian drug lords and Reagan's "freedom fighters." (Judge that last one on your own.)
There are some who believe that the P2 plotted the death of Pope John Paul I, who it is believed was about to order an investigation of the Vatican Bank.
Here's what the Freemasons have to say about the P2:
When the Grand Orient was revived after the Second World War it was decided to number the Lodges by drawing lots; Lodge Propaganda drew number two, thus it became P2. It rarely held meetings and was almost inactive.
In 1967, Brother Lucio Gelli, who had been initiated into a Lodge in Rome in 1965, was placed in virtual control of P2 by the Grand Master of the day. He was considered to be a shrewd and successful businessman with a great gift for recruiting. In 1970 he was made secretary of P2 and subsequently a substantial number of well-placed men were initiated. In most recognized Grand Lodge jurisdictions, these practices would not be countenanced. An argument could be made that by Italian standards, nothing was amiss.
Gelli's growing influence became a concern of the then Grand Master who, in late 1974, proposed that P2 be erased. At the Grand Orient Communication in December 1974, of the 406 Lodges represented, 400 voted for its erasure. In March 1975 Gelli accused the Grand Master of gross financial irregularities, withdrawing the accusations only after the Grand Master issued a warrant for a new P2 Lodge--despite the fact that the Grand Orient had erased it only four months earlier. P2 was considered regular; its membership was no longer secret and Gelli was its Master. In 1976, Gelli requested that P2 be suspended but not erased. This nuance of jurisprudence meant that he could continue to preserve some semblance of regularity for his private club without being answerable to the Grand Orient.
By 1978, suspect financial arrangements involving the Grand Master prompted many other Grand Lodges to threaten to withdraw recognition, and the Grand Master resigned before his term expired. Gelli promptly financed the election campaign of the Immediate Past Grand Master, but the Grand Orient elected another candidate as their new leader.
In 1980, Gelli told a press interview that Freemasonry was a puppet show in which he pulled the strings. Italian Masonry was outraged by this, struck a Masonic tribunal which in 1981 expelled him and decided that P2 had been erased as a Lodge in 1974 and therefore any contrary action by a Grand Master had been illegal.
The same year the police investigated Gelli for a range of fraudulent activities and, in searching his house, found a P2 register of 950 names - mostly prominent people. Several government ministers resigned and the Italian Government fell. Gelli managed to get out of the country. A Special Parliamentary Commission found Gelli to have an obscure and opportunistic past and to count among his friends many such as the fraudulent banker Calvi who was later found dead under London's Black Friars Bridge, and the banker Sindona who was later jailed in the USA for fraud and suspected murder. The nature and aims of Gelli's alleged political intrigues have never been explained. From his South American hideaway, he has sent out obscure messages and has offered to give himself up to Italian police if certain conditions were met. The authorities have issued no public statement.
The President of the Parliamentary Commission of Investigation, while openly hostile to Freemasonry at the outset, eventually declared that Freemasonry itself had been Gelli's first and principal victim. While three successive Grand Masters (two now deceased and one expelled from Freemasonry) had manipulated secret funds, secret members, secret decisions and secret Lodges, the body of Italian Freemasonry was neither guilty nor culpable in the P2 Affair.
At the Grand Orient Meeting of March 1982, no incumbent Grand Officer was re-elected.