Thursday, May 23, 2024


                 (continuation of Tuscono  Rome adventures Volumes 82-83-84-95-97 and 98)

                                                                  The 2 AM Talk Radio Show is a combination of business commentary, industry and world updates, along with a splattering of federal, state and local politics slightly stirred together with a dash of personal perspective and the occasional rant, as well as a few novel mystery writings, all provided by the Founder and Managing Partner of Independence2, LLC, a National Architectural Door Hardware Commercial Company.

                                        VOLUME 99: THE POPE'S REQUEST

Tony Tuscono is the C.E.O. and founder of a high security company known as Golds, Sachs & Thomas which also does covert operations within a highly classified section of the U. S. Government formed during the Presidency of '41'.  GST with the main office in South Beach Miami with a branch in New Orleans having recently closed their branch in Shanghai.  Tuscono's  resume includes three degrees, fluency in four languages, action in three major conflicts, decorated Ranger and 'spook' credentials involving over a hundred covert operations.

(As a review-see Volumes: 82-83-84-95-97-99) His relationship with the Pontiff, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, had been  entirely by circumstance four decades or so ago.  Although the Pope was born in Buenos Aires, he was the son of Italian immigrants.  His father, Mario, was an accountant employed by the railways and his mother, Regina Sivor, although highly educated was a committed wife dedicated to raising their five children.  Pope Francis a highly educated man himself rose quickly after  his ordination through the ranks of South American Catholic Church hierarchy. In 1986 he spent significant time in Germany finishing his doctoral thesis and became very close personal friends with Pope John Paul II.  This simple fact came back to Tuscono for he know that the time spent in Germany was significant and not simply for the doctoral degree as well as recalling the historical circumstance that found his father leaving Italy for Buenos Aires during the fascist upraising and intrigue taking place in Italy as well as with the Vatican.

There had been rumors, at the time, through the Intelligence apparatus since the beginnings of World War II and certainly in the decades to follow that the Vatican was very instrumental in setting up alliances with various secret societies as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), a military arm as well as a funding conduit for the Vatican with close ties to Opus Dei, P2, and the Masons as well as spy agencies, CIA and the OSS, precusor of the CIA, KGB, Mossad and foremost the Mafia and that these networks have  been on going.  Nevertheless, it was estimated that along with very large amounts of gold bullion, tens of thousands of Germans and Italians were helped to freedom in Argentina as that war and the alliances of all the various participants progressed even to the untimely and unsolved mysterious death of Pope Paul I, only thirty three days as Pope, and the massive financial scandal that followed with obvious links.

In 1984 Tuscono,still at the Agency, had a conversation when the Pope was the Rector of the Colegio de San Jose in San Miquel regarding the location of one Michael Sindona, the advisor chosen by Pope Paul II to advise the Vatican Bank who then swindled tens of millions of dollars from the IOR, Istituto per io Opere di Religione as well as possible implications by certain Church officials and implication into the death of John Paul I. Tuscono's Agency unit performed a "snatch, bag and transport" of Sindona. At that time it didn't take the Unit long to discover that the information came via a phone call from a church in San Maguel.  Tuscono visited that Church months later and was welcomed by Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio who told the story of little girl that arrived one day at the Church.  She had been cast aside from her family because of her pregnancy. It was Tuscono's introduction to one Skylar Monique Salazar-Luconi and the relationship with the Father Bergoglio.  That relationship grew into Skylar eventually becoming his personal administrative assistant.  And, it was she that made the phone call putting to end the Sindona affair and further connection to Tuscono and the Pope. 

Decades later at the behest of Pope Francis through his most trusted Francesco DiGiuda, Lieutenant Colonel of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, Guardia Svizzers Pontificia, only one of two Italian born members of this elite corp, asked Tuscono to assist his Swiss Guard in the kidnapping of one Karol Jozel Stephenson, godson of the Saintly Pope John Paul II.  The result was not only the safe rescue of the former Pope's godson but just as important the rescue of Francesco DiGiuda who was also kidnapped during this adventure.   

(Present time)........

As time passed and GST involvement in other covert work continued with not much thought  given to all the exploits that had taken place with the Holy Father and only casual conversations with Francesco until Maggie, the VP of operations at GST, open the door to Tuscono's office with her green eyes wider than normal.  Tuscono raised his eyes from the computer and without Maggie saying a single work he asked "what is worng?" Maggie's look broke into a sly smile saying  Frnacesco is on the secured line from the Vatican." Only unusual because even with their random conversations the secure line was never used.  Tuscono rolled his eyes and instructed Maggie to tell Jonathon Carpenter, the IT guru to make the normal checks using the the STU-111 and AS232 Fortezza crypto card with GST's own matrix G-20, a roving swithching system that utilizes two distinct satellites for maximum security and motioning for Maggie to join him as well as Nagle.

"Good morning my friend.  Isn't it a little early for you to be up and about" says Tuscono to Francesco.

  There is a slight moment of silence then Francesco says "I can tell you have me on speaker so who else is in the room?"  

Only Maggie and Nagle" replies Tuscono.  

"Okay my friend, and hello to you Maggie and you also Nagle.  Sorry for the intense tone but I have a request from the Holy Father for Tuscono. and so privacy becomes most important."  

Tuscono interrupted by saying "Francesco whatever this is about I'm perfectly comfortable speaking and listening with both Maggie and Nagle so please continue."  

Francesco continues, "Over the years Tuscono you and your team have saved not only my life but that of the the prior Pope's godson.  You and your team recovered priceless artifacts  and painting stolen from the Vatican.  You captured Sindona and returned him to authorities. You have had years of history with the Pontiff and so he trusts you and your team as much and maybe more than the Swiss Guard.  Let me please recount a little history all of which you know because of you involvement nevertheless it  will make this new request more clear. Again as you know during the time that Skylar was the administrative assistant for the Father she had been introduced to Sindona and subsequently made the phone call to the private number given to her by Father Bergoglio and the Sindona problem because of your Agency work was at least temporarily taken care of but as you know upon his return to Italy he was found murdered in his cell.  It was also at that time that Skylar had given birth to a son who was then raised and eventually turned over to the protection of the Father Bergoglio with a name change as Skyler decided to leave the refuge of the Church as she could see the corruption overwhelming the Church and married the man who made her pregnant although he never knew of their son. This man, Jose Sinaloa, ran the Sinaloa Cartel and she learned rapidly that crime does pay. The day that Sinaloa was killed she took over control and have grown that organization into the most profitable and ruthless cartel in the world even though Church artifacts and paintings were returned to the Church because of your GST teams outstanding work. And now to the point of my call.   

The Pope is in poor health and he knows that his time on this earth is very limited.  He has no regrets and is at peace with his condition.  However the Holy Father is in fear for the Church because of the corruption within but mostly for his decision to protect the boy, the son of Skyler Monique Salazar-Luconi, who now is a priest somewhere in Italy. The Pontiff requests a personal sit down meeting with only you and myself.  If you agree I will setup the meeting to take place at the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo in the Alban Hills."

During this entire time Tuscono has remained silent and only upon conclusion of Francesco's request did he speak and as normal he was brief as he spoke. " Francesco my friend I have no idea of what I or my team can do to assist the Holy Father; however, please set up the meeting and I will at least hear out the Pope."  The phone conversation ended.

Maggie, Nagle and Tuscono sat in silence for a few minutes until Maggie raised the question "What are you going to do?" as she addressed Tuscono. Another few seconds went by to which Tuscono responded, "I have no idea until I hear in person the Pope's request." Tuscono went on to say to Nagle, "set up my travel with whatever aircraft is available for I'm guessing the response back to us will be eminent.  

Maggie again asked, "are you going alone?"..........Tuscono's response was simply, "yes".

24 hours later, Tuscono finds himself in a GST unmarked aircraft heading to Ciampino Airport outside of  Rome.  Eight hours after take-off Tuscono is picked up by Francesco DiGiuda in a Guardia Svizzera Pontificia vehicle and travel to the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo to meet with the Pontiff.  Within forty-five minutes they arrive at the summer palace and graciously greeted by the Pope Francis. The Pontiff in a wheel chair invites us outside onto a magnificent patio overlooking the sparkling clear Lake Albano surrounded by flowers and plants in full bloom.  The assistant priest that pushed the wheel chair to the patio removes himself and goes back into the Palace.  The Pope, Tuscono and Francesco sit on cushion chairs around a table set with water, wine, cheese and assorted breads as well as the same century old cutlery remembered from the last visitation.

The Pope thanks Tuscono for making the time for this visit as well as Francesco for his loyalty as well as requesting Tuscono for this meeting. The Pope continued by looking directly at Tuscono and said "in the words of your most famous singer Mr. Sinatra, I'm in the Autumn of my years (smiles) actually I'm in the winter of my years." A larger smile which shows his humor then continues "the Vatican is a very large complex company that goes back to the fourteenth century when the cornerstone of St. Peter's Basilica was laid and over a hundred years later in 1626 St. Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world was built.  It was until 1929 the Lateran Treaty was signed between Pope Pius XI and Italian leader Benito Mussolini declared Vatican City as an independent state that became the world's smallest country and not until 1984 did your country and Vatican established full diplomatic relations," the Pontiff takes a sip of water and then continues, "the Vatican is a very large complex company with an immense responsibility and a banking system, Istituto per lo Opere di Religione and Autorita di informazione Finanziaria  that has evolved over many years and unfortunately with much corruption.  I have tried my best to correct that terrible banking situation by transferring all of its financial holdings to another Vatican office and giving Francesco full authority to investigate the entire system with full resources. The Vatican Bank must be expected to maintain the highest of moral standards in the way it conducts its business and rid itself of corruption, scandal and mismanagement even the rumors of money laundering with mafia boss Pippo Calo.  It has been difficult to translate well-meaning words into meaningful actions. The scandals of the past reflect how corruption had infiltrated all aspects of Italy's political and business class, and that meant a reluctance to pursue proper reforms but I have tried." The Pontiff paused and took another sip of water. He continued saying, "Thank you for listening to my brief History lesson.  It was meant to explain the gravity of difficulty in attempting to correct the many problems that we face."  

Another pause at which time Tuscono having only listened up to this point spoke, "I understand the many problems that you face and I'm even familiar with one Paolo Oliverio, a financial consultant to the Camilliani, a religious order dedicated to the service of the sick, was arrested last year on suspicion of laundering money for the Calabrian Mafia, Europe's biggest cocaine traffickers as well as Italy's political and business elite and how they conduct business.  And I'm also familiar  with Cardinal Vincenzo Depioro and the charges brought about by our friend Francesco however this matter was not pursued by the Church. And to some extent familiar with the recent trial involving the Holy See's 350 million euro investment in a luxury London property where prosecutors allege brokers and Vatican monsignors fleeced the Holy See of tens of millions of euros in fees and commissions.  My unit was familiar with this as we were involved with a cocaine investigation actually involving Cardinal Angelo Becciu and his connection to a Chinese underworld figure."  That last statement had caught Francesco slightly off guard but he didn't speak only gave Tuscono a quizzical look. Tuscono just smiled and then said to Francesco the following, "my friend there are probably a few more things that will be stated here that you aren't aware of."

Tuscono then said to the Pontiff, "Again Father I understand the past history as well as present trials and tribulations but why am I here in your presences." What is it that I or my company can do for you?"

The Pontiff took another sip of water then stated, "I realize that many people within the Vatican think that I'm too liberal.  My feelings toward divorce and LGBTQ rights as well as my hesitation, according to some, regarding the horrible sexual conduct of priests might mike my legacy marginal at best however my focus has always been on welcoming all would-be worshippers into the fold, focusing less on whether they are sinners and more on whether they have access to the community of worshippers, and attendant sacraments necessary for a Christian life.  I know that I have created enemies within and without the Church and now we are at the point of your visitation my friend."

The Holy Father then looked at Francesco saying, "I owe you a personal apology for keeping one secret from you as well as everyone else with the exception of Tuscono."

Francesco immediately becomes uncomfortable with that statement but listens intently.

The Pope continues, "During the last visit when Tuscono's team saved the God-Son, Karol Jozef Stephenson,  as well as saving you my friend after dinner if you recall I asked Tuscono to walk with me in the garden for a personal conversation."

Tuscono simply confirmed that statement with a nod and smile and said to Francesco with a smile, "you probably should take a sip of the wine my freind."

The Pontiff continued, "Shortly after that visit a young South American priest arrived at the Vatican and was appointed to the Papacy as an undersecretary.  His name is Roberto Bucci."

Francesco interrupted the Holy Father simply stating, "I'm familiar with Father Bucci over his years here at the Vatican.  He is a wonderful pious priest that I know you are very fond of."

The Holy Father continued, "Yes, I'm very fond of Roberto and therefore my wish to have you and Tuscono here today. Father Roberto Bucci is actually the son of Skyler Monique Salazar-Luconi."

Francesco now took a large swallow of wine with questions crossing his face half in amazement and half in concern. 

The Pontiff continues, "As I have recounted, I'm not physically well and soon my time on this earth will end.  Although I have, to the best of my ability, attempted to end the internal corruption,  I have created many enemies within and without the Vatican.  My wish to my friend Tuscono is to alert Skyler that I'm about to raise Father Bucci to his Eminence Bishop of the Diocese of Celaya which covers municipalities of San Diego de la Union, Dolores Hidalgo, San Luis de la Paz, Santa Cruz de Juventino and (of course) San Miguel de Allende.  I am not able to protect Father Bucci once I'm gone.  A great deal of the staff including undersecretarys could be transferred anywhere in the world and worse the personal records will be open to the new regime."

Tuscono replied, "I will personally notify Skyler upon leaving Rome."

The Pontiff replied, " grazie".  Now please join me for some lunch before your departure."

The lunch was prepared as Tuscono, Francesco and the Pontiff sat at a small table within the Palace.  

The Pope after saying grace stated, "I'm sure you are aware that Southern Itally is famous for its fresh seafood as the majority of its popular tows and cities are nestled along the Bay of Naples.  I've taken the liberty to acquire a wide range of seafood choices for our lunch including lobster, mussels, octopus and a local fish.  Please have some wine as my priest will serve each of us."

After lunch the Pontiff expressed his most sincere thanks and gave a Papal blessing to both Francesco and Tuscono.  Shortly thereafter Tuscono was on his plane and headed to San Miguel; de Allende, Mexico.


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