P2 Lodge discovered during the Vatican Scandal: a “state within a state or a “shadow government”

Propaganda Due or P2 was an irregular or “black” Masonic lodge that operated in Italy from 1966-1981, headed by Licio Gelli. P2 was implicated in numerous Italian crimes and mysteries, including the nationwide bribe scandal Tangentopoli, the collapse of the Vatican-affiliated Banco Ambrosiano, and the murders of journalist Mino Pecorelli and banker Roberto Calvi. P2 came to light through the investigations into the collapse of Michele Sindona’s financial empire.

P2 was sometimes referred to as a “state within a state or a “shadow government”. The lodge had among its members prominent journalists, parliamentarians, industrialists, and military leaders — including the then-future Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi; the Savoy pretender to the Italian throne Victor Emmanuel; and the heads of all three Italian intelligence services.

When searching Licio Gelli’s villa, the police found a document called the “Plan for Democratic Rebirth”, which called for a consolidation of the media, suppression of trade unions, and the rewriting of the Italian Constitution.

One of the secret rites taking place in the P-2 Lodge, as printed in the Italian press

“Propaganda” was originally a lodge established in Turin, in the 19th century, and included prominent members from the Piedmont nobility. This lodge has, however, little to do with the one Gelli established in 1966, two years after becoming a freemason himself. He took a list of “sleeping members”-members who were not invited to take part in masonic rituals anymore, as Italian freemasonry was under close scrutiny by the reigning Christian Democrats. From these initials connections, Gelli was able to extend his network throughout the echelons of the Italian establishment.

“God’s Banker” Roberto Calvi’s connections with the Worshipful Master Licio Gelli became a particular focus of press and police attention, and caused the lodge (then secret) to be discovered. A list of adherents was found by the police in Gelli’s house in Arezzo in March 1981, containing over 900 names, among which were very important state officers, some important politicians (four ministers or former ministers, and 44 deputies), and a number of military officers, many of them enrolled in the Italian secret services. Notably, the then future Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was on the list, although he had not yet entered elective politics at the time. Another famous member was Victor Emmanuel, Prince of Naples, the current head of the House of Savoy. A document was also found in the possession of Licio Gelli titled “Piano di Rinascita Democratica” (Democratic Rebirth Plan) which amounted to a declaration of the lodge’s intent; essentially, Gelli’s goal was to form a new political and economic elite to lead Italy towards a more authoritarian form of democracy, in an anti-communist perspective. “The objective of the division of the trade-union must be a priority,” the Plan stated, “in order to allow the reunification with the autonomous unions of those confederal components sensitive to the Plan’s actuation”.