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It became the target of considerable attention in the wake of the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano (one of Milan's principal banks), and the suspicious 1982 death of its president Roberto Calvi in London, initially ruled a suicide but later prosecuted as a murder.
The lodge was founded in 1877 as a Lodge for visiting members unable to attend their own Lodges. In the mid 1960s it only had 14 permanent members, but when Licio Gelli took over he rapidly expanded the membership to over 1000 within a year.
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, a few politicians, and a number of military officers, many of them enrolled in the Italian secret services . Notably, the current 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 objectives were to form a new political and economical elite to lead Italy towards a more authoritarian form of democracy, in an anti-communist perspective.
It is alleged that the P2 lodge was responsible for the 'Italicus' train bombing of 1974, in which 12 people were killed.
Then-prime minister Arnaldo Forlani was forced to resign, and Giovanni Spadolini of the Republican Party (PRI) was then appointed, leading a center-left coalition. Spadolini was the first Italian prime minister not belonging to the Democrazia Cristiana ("Christian Democrats") party.
The lodge was then examined by a special commission of the Italian Parliament, directed by Tina Anselmi of the Democrazia Cristiana. The conclusion of the commission was that it was a secret criminal organization, even if no proof was found of specific crimes committed. Allegations of surreptitious international relationships, mainly with Argentina (Gelli repeatedly suggested he was a close friend of Juan Peron) and with some people suspected of belonging to the American Central Intelligence Agency were also partly confirmed; but soon a political debate overtook the legal level of the analysis.
Even if outlawed by Mussolini in 1925, masonic institutions have always been tolerated in Italy, but a special law was issued that prohibited secret lodges; the Grande Oriente d'Italia ("Grand Orient of Italy"), after taking disciplinary action against members with P2 connections, distanced itself from Gelli's lodge and claimed to only have respect for honest Freemasons. Other laws introduced a prohibition on membership in such organizations for some categories of state officers (especially military officers). Such laws have been recently questioned by the European Court of Human Rights.
It has been repeatedly alleged that P2 was involved in the assassination of Aldo Moro, murdered by the Red Brigades, after the Italian Security Services refused to strike a deal with the abductors, but no concrete proof was ever found. It has also been suspected that P2 was involved in the 1980 bombing of a train station in Bologna as part of the strategy of tension and that they tried to frame extreme Italian nationalist groups.
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