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Would-be papal assassin says Ayatollah Khomeini ordered shooting; Vatican dismisses claim

Catholic World News - February 01, 2013

Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot and wounded Pope John Paul II in May 1983, now claims the assassination attempt was ordered by the late Iranian Islamic leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Agca—who has a long history of making sensational and often contradictory claims about his own life and his motives for the shooting—claims that he was trained by Iranian forces and given the mission to kill the Pontiff by Ayatollah Khomeini himself. Agca makes these claims in an autobiography, entitled They Promised Me Paradise, which was released in an Italian edition this week.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, dismissed the claim by the would-be papal assassin, taking note of the steadily shifting stories that Agca has told. “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 Pope 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.

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