Vatican dismisses latest claim by would-be assassin

The Vatican has dismissed a claim by Mehmet Ali Agca that his assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1983 was ordered by the late Iranian Islamic leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

In an autobiography, the would-be assassin claims he was trained by Iranian forces and given the mission to kill the Pontiff by the ayatollah himself.

“Should we believe Agca this time?” said the director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi. “I don’t think so.”

“The other hundred or so versions of the facts that Agca has given now, along with his previous claims, are a bit too much to be believable,” the Vatican spokesman said.

He added that whenever he had been able to check one of Agca’s assertions, he had found it to be false.

Father Lombardi did confirm Agca’s report that when John Paul II visited him in a Roman prison, the two spoke about the message of Our Lady of Fatima and the Virgin Mary’s involvement in saving the Pope’s life.

However, the papal spokesman denied that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI wrote personal letters to Agca urging him to convert to Christianity.

He said he had discussed Agca’s claims with Cardinal Stanslaw Dzwisz, who served as Pope John Paul II’s secretary at the time and was the only person present at the meeting between the Holy Father and the assassin.

Father Lombardi gave his view that the book was clearly a publicity stunt and that “practically everything I was able to verify is false”.

Agca shot and wounded John Paul II on May 13, 1981, in St Peter’s Square, Rome. He was released from prison in 2010.

Previously Agca had suggested that Bulgaria and the Soviet Union’s KGB were behind the attack, but then backed away from that assertion.


Vatican Insider


Image: The Telegraph

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