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Vatican Denies Report of Complicity in Pope’s Shooting

<i> Reuters</i>

The Vatican dismissed as ridiculous an allegation by an Italian newspaper Sunday that some of the Holy See’s senior figures ordered the 1981 shooting that almost killed Pope John Paul II.

The daily La Voce, quoting testimony from Oral Celik, a Turk suspected at one time of helping gunman Mehmet Ali Agca, said that Vatican officials ordered Agca to shoot but not kill the pontiff and that other senior Italians were also involved in the plot.

Prosecutors made no comment on the report, but chief Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro dismissed it. “This daydream is too ridiculous and at the same time not clever enough to be considered,” he said.

Celik’s lawyer denied the claims attributed to his client. “This is absolutely untrue. I categorically deny that he made statements of this type,” lawyer Michele Gentiloni told Italian state television.

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The report said Celik had given details and named names to support his theory and was being held at a secret location under 24-hour guard.

Turkish gunman Agca shot and seriously wounded the Pope on May 13, 1981, as the pontiff toured a crowded St. Peter’s Square in an open-top jeep after his weekly Wednesday audience.

Agca is serving a life sentence for the attack.


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