Addressing journalists today, Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, denied several claims made by Mehmet Ali Agca in a new autobiography that was released on January 31st. Agca is responsible for the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II on May 13th, 1981 in St. Peter’s Square.
The autobiography is entitled “They Promised Me Paradise: My Life and The Truth on the Assassination of the Pope” and was written by Agca with the help of a ghost writer.
Among the claims made by the Turkish assassin was that the assassination attempt was ordered by Grand Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran. Agca recounts alleged details of his meeting with Pope John Paul II two years after the attempt, stating that after discussing the third secret of Fatima, the Holy Father explicitly asked Agca who had ordered the assassination.
Agca also claims that Pope John Paul II had urged him to convert to Christianity.
“Should we believe Agca this time?” stated Fr. Lombardi. “I don’t think so.” The director of the Holy See Press office went on to say that he 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.
According to Fr. Lombardi, Cardinal Dziwisz confirmed that the late Holy Father and Agca discussed the secret of Fatima and the inexplicable nature of Pope John Paul’s survival of the attack. However, the former secretary of Pope John Paul II strongly denied that any such conversation regarding Ayatollah Khomeini’s involvement in the assassination or that the Holy Father urged Agca to convert to Christianity took place.
Cardinal Dziwisz also denied another claim by Agca that Pope John Paul II had sent a letter sometime after the meeting urging Agca once again to convert to Christianity. According to the Cardinal, no such letter exists.
Agca claimed that Pope Benedict XVI has also written to him, asking him for prayers as well as urging him to convert, claims that Fr. Federico Lombardi strongly denied.
“Practically everything that was my responsibility and that I have been able to verify is false,” Fr. Lombardi said regarding the book’s claims. “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.”