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10 Crazy Catholic Conspiracy Theories

by Nolan Moore
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Catholic conspiracy theories date as far back as Martin Luther and the Reformation. While the Church has definitely been involved in some dark dealings (the Crusades, the Inquisition, sex abuse scandals), it’s a bit irrational to assume the Vatican has been responsible for every tragedy, war, and political upheaval in history. But there are always going to be people who think Antichrist is spelled “P-O-P-E.”

10 Orchestrating Jonestown

Jim Jones

Everybody knows about Jim Jones and the People’s Temple. The mass suicide at Jonestown left a huge impact on our society and has inspired movies, books, and even the expression “drinking the Kool-Aid.” However, conspiracy theorists claim that the Jonestown Massacre wasn’t the work of a madman but was actually a sinister Catholic plot. Jim Jones was supposedly a Jesuit deacon (a priest on special assignment) and, of course, a warlock. The Vatican ordered Jones to set up a small fundamentalist cult and lead them to suicide in order to discredit all small Protestant churches.

For proof, conspiracy theorists often point to Jones’s association with Father Divine, a charismatic preacher who claimed to be the second coming of Christ. Divine preached a message of Heaven on Earth and borrowed ideas from various denominations such as Pentecostalism, Methodism, and—you guessed it—Catholicism. Conspiracy theorists also point to his meetings with (“Jesuit-trained”) California governor Jerry Brown and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, suggesting that these were ploys to raise his profile so that one day the media would have an excuse to focus on his cult’s destruction. With evidence like this, you know these guys are drinking something way stronger than Kool-Aid.

9 Creating Islam

Several Catholic conspiracies are based on the testimony of Dr. Alberto Rivera, a con man who claimed to be an ex-Jesuit and one-time Catholic spy. Infamous evangelist Jack Chick believed Rivera’s story (despite the doctor’s history of fraud) and printed it in comic book form. According to the Rivera/Chick tract “The Prophet,” the Catholic Church created Islam.

“The Prophet” makes the wild claim that Muhammad was a Catholic stooge. The greedy Vatican wanted to get its bejeweled hands on Jerusalem due to its religious significance and location in the Middle East. So the Pope dreamed up the craziest real estate scheme in the history of mankind. He would unite the Arabic people behind a Messiah and sic them on Jerusalem. The Vatican ordered a wealthy nun named Khadijah to marry a suitable young man and help him to form one of the world’s largest religions and take over the Middle East. She soon found and married Muhammad and trained him in the ways of Catholicism. She taught him to hate pretty much everybody who wasn’t a Catholic, especially Jews. In addition to training Muhammad, the Jesuits also spread legends about how a prophet would arise to lead the Arabs to great victories. After Muhammad received his divine revelations, Rivera claimed, the groundwork was laid for the Arab people to flock to the new religion of Islam.

After the death of Muhammad, the Pope made a deal with the Muslim armies, agreeing to supply them with wealth and weapons in exchange for conquering the Holy Lands. However, after the Muslims took over Jerusalem, they decided to keep the city for themselves. Enraged, the Pope called on the forces of Europe to march into the Middle East. Hello, Crusades.

Don’t bother looking for the proof of all this, because you’ll never find it. According to Rivera, Muhammad wrote about his Catholic connections, but these dangerous texts are kept safely in the hands of the world’s most powerful ayatollahs. We’ll just have to take Dr. Rivera’s word on this one.

8 Assassinating Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

The irony about Abraham Lincoln’s death is that it really was the result of a conspiracy. While the actual involvement of some is debated, John Wilkes Booth and eight others were found guilty of a plot to kill Abraham Lincoln as well as Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward. However, this explanation wasn’t good enough for Charles Chiniquy. An ex-priest turned anti-Catholic, Chiniquy’s autobiography Fifty Years in the Church of Rome supposedly revealed the real reason for Lincoln’s death. In his desire to see justice done, Honest Abe had crossed the Jesuits.

Chiniquy claimed that Catholic authorities framed him for slander in order to silence him from speaking about abuses taking place within the Church. Wanting to clear his name, Chiniquy asked a young Mr. Lincoln to come to his aid. As the story goes, Lincoln successfully defended Chiniquy, thus earning the hatred of the Jesuits. However, actual records show that Lincoln was court-appointed and simply had the case dropped. Chiniquy also claims that the Vatican backed the Confederacy in order to overthrow the Union and establish a papal dictatorship. However, Lincoln kept getting in the way of their plans, so the Jesuits assembled a team of assassins and had Lincoln murdered.

To prove the Vatican’s involvement, conspiracy theorists point to Lincoln’s anti-Catholic quotes as recorded by Chiniquy in their private meetings at the White House. For example, Lincoln allegedly said, “It is not against the Americans of the South, alone, I am fighting, it is more against the Pope of Rome, his perfidious Jesuits and their blind and blood-thirsty slaves, than against the real American Protestants, that we have to defend ourselves.” However, Chiniquy was the only witness to these statements, which is pretty convenient.

7 Sinking The Titanic


Everyone knows that the Titanic sank in the cold waters of the North Atlantic, but according to conspiracy theorists, that is only the tip of the iceberg. Groups such as the Pacific Institute claim the Jesuits intentionally sank the Titanic in order to create the Federal Reserve Bank.

As the story goes, in 1910, representatives of the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, and J.P. Morgan (all rich, all powerful, all members of the Illuminati) met to discuss the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank. The Jesuits planned to use this central banking system to finance their evil schemes of world domination. However, the Vatican knew their plan would be opposed by John Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim, and Isador Strauss, three of the richest men in the world. So, logically, these guys had to die, and they had to die in the craziest way possible so no one would ever suspect foul play. The Jesuits ordered J.P. Morgan, owner of White Star Lines, to build the Titanic. Astor, Guggenheim, and Strauss were all invited to sail on the unsinkable luxury liner, unaware the voyage would mean their deaths.

The whole plot hinged on the actions of Edward Smith, captain of the Titanic. As the story goes, Smith was actually a “Jesuit tempore co-adjator” which is basically a guy who has sworn his life to the Jesuit order. His mission from God was to intentionally ram the Titanic into an iceberg and kill everyone aboard. It didn’t matter that many of the passengers were Catholic immigrants. In fact, the Vatican intentionally filled the ship with Church members in order to deflect suspicion from the Jesuits.

Finally, on April 15th, 1912, Smith made his move. He steered the Titanic into an iceberg, sinking the ship and drowning Astor, Guggenheim, and Strauss. The Church’s enemies had been eliminated, and by December 1913, the Federal Reserve System was in place. The Jesuits would now be able to finance their dreams of taking over the world.

6 Creating Communism And The Nazis

Stalin and Hitler

Divided over issues like the Pope’s authority, clerical marriage, and the doctrine of the Trinity, the Eastern and Western Churches broke apart in 1054, dividing into the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church. According to conspiracy theorists, the Vatican had been nursing a grudge against its eastern rival ever since the split, and as the 19th century gave way to the 20th, it was time for some papal payback.

The Jesuits planned to stage a communist coup in order to murder the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and depose his protector, Czar Nicholas II. Key Communists like Marx, Engels, and Lenin were supposedly controlled by the Jesuits, and the Bolsheviks were supported by the Federal Reserve Bank. After Lenin’s ascension to power, the Czar and his family were imprisoned and eventually executed by the Jesuits themselves.

However, the whole thing backfired thanks to the Patriarch, who had learned the location of the Czar’s secret treasure trove. When the Bolsheviks finally decided to kill him, the Patriarch greeted them with a smile and a big pile of gold. They were so happy that they decided to let him live, and the Pope’s scheme was thwarted.

When communism failed, Rome dreamed up another –ism to crush its Orthodox opponents—Nazism. The Jesuits took wannabe artist Adolf Hitler and turned him into a dictator. They wrote his autobiography Mein Kampf, financed his government with loans from the Federal Reserve Bank, controlled the Gestapo, and supplied the Nazis with crucial information gained from Catholic confessionals. They also set Mussolini up in Italy and Franco in Spain in the hopes that these three would rule the world in the name of the Pope.

In addition to wiping out the Orthodox Church, the Jesuits also planned to persecute the Jews, though conspiracy theorists differ on why. Some suspect it was to keep the Jews from controlling Israel, while others think it was to force the Jews to return to Palestine, where they would get involved in a long war with the Arabs. The Pope would then visit the Holy Land, unite the two groups, and be hailed as a hero. But just in case the Axis Powers lost, the Pope hid over 1,000 Jews to cover his tracks.

Another alleged goal of World War II was to punish Japan. During the 1500s, the Japanese government expelled the Jesuits from its shores. According to one theory, the Catholic Church responded in a Christ-like manner by having atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

5 Starting The Vietman War


The Vietnam War was one of the longest and most controversial wars in American history. It was also a Catholic plot to conquer Vietnam, at least according to conspiracy theorist Avro Manhattan. Manhattan claimed that the Church, led by Pope Pius XII, wanted to catholicize Vietnam through Ngo Din Diem, the puppet president of South Vietnam. While it is a fact that Diem was a Catholic dictator, Manhattan alleges that Pius was the real power behind the throne and that he ordered the American military to keep North Vietnam from crashing the party.

However, after Pius’s death, his replacement, Pope John XXIII, wasn’t so worried about the communists. According to Manhattan, Pope John thought that siding with the North was a safer bet, so he started making secret deals with Ho Chi Minh while keeping up the Church’s relationship with the South. Basically, whoever won the war, the Vatican was going to come out on top.

Conspiracy theorist Eric Phelps has a different take on the situation. Phelps claims that the Vatican viewed the Vietnamese as “unconvertible.” Since they wouldn’t give up their Buddhist ways, the Jesuits initiated an Asian Inquisition. On top of that, the Catholic Church is supposedly involved in the global drug trade via the Mafia. If the papacy could conquer Vietnam, which was a major source of narcotics, they could then flood America with illegal substances. The White Pope? More like the Walter White Pope.

4 Assassinating Kennedy


We all know who killed Kennedy. It was a guy named Lee Harvey Oswald. Or was it the military industrial complex? Or perhaps it was Fidel Castro or the Mafia or the Cigarette-Smoking Man. It’s the most famous conspiracy theory of all time, so it should come as no surprise that somebody, somewhere, believes that the Jesuits had a hand in President Kennedy’s demise.

There are multiple theories about why the Vatican felt Kennedy was a threat. One idea is that Kennedy wanted to deescalate the Vietnam War, which would have ruined Rome’s chances of creating a Catholic base in Asia and halted the flow of their drug money. Another is that Kennedy wanted to close the Federal Reserve, which would have deprived the Jesuits of their global domination funds. Yet a third theory claims that Kennedy was tired of being the Vatican’s puppet, and that he was planning to expose the Jesuits’ influence on the American government. Conspiracy theorists point to a speech Kennedy gave on April 27, 1961 (known affectionately in conspiracy circles as the “Secret Societies Speech”), in which he spoke of how America was “opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence.” Could he have been talking about Communism? Nope. That’s too simple.

Whatever the reason, the Vatican decided it was time for Kennedy to go. It didn’t matter whether Kennedy was a Catholic or not. He had betrayed the Church. So the Jesuits picked Lee Harvey Oswald, who some claim was a Roman Catholic, to be the fall guy. Working with the CIA and various other agencies, the Jesuits had Kennedy assassinated in Dallas, Texas. However, conspiracy theorists are divided on whether or not Lyndon B. Johnson was involved. Some claim that he didn’t know a massive conspiracy was underway, while others say he ducked seconds before the bullets started flying.

3 World Domination

World domination

Almost all Catholic conspiracy theories center on the shadowy organization known as the Society of Jesus, aka the Jesuits. According to history, the Jesuit order was established by St. Ignatius of Loyola, a soldier-turned-priest. Jesuits are known for their missionary work and for establishing schools across the world, but despite their good deeds, the Jesuits feature in practically every conspiracy known to man. Even notable figures such as John Adams and Samuel B. Morse suspected the order of foul intentions. Of course, their involvement in actual conspiracies such as the Gunpowder Plot didn’t help their reputation, but some theories about the order are so insane they sound like Dan Brown novels on crack.

According to conspiracy theorists, the Jesuits’ goal is global domination. Their priests are trained in the ways of the Dark Side and are taught skills such as hypnosis, telepathy, and levitation. The Jesuits also act as an umbrella organization for conspiracy theory bogeymen such as the Illuminati, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Mafia, the Club of Rome, Opus Dei, the Freemasons, international bankers, and the New Age Movement. They also oversee companies like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Disney, and—horrors—Home Depot.

In addition to controlling a number of secret societies, the Jesuits also run the Vatican itself. According to most conspiracy theorists, the Pope (aka the “White Pope”) is just a puppet leader, taking his orders from the infamous “Black Pope.” The Black Pope, so named because of his dark clothing (and evil powers), is an actual Church leader known as the Superior General of the Society of Jesus. In real life, the “Black Pope” is only in charge of the Jesuits and nothing more. But why should we let reality get in the way of a good conspiracy theory?

2 Ordering 9/11


As an event, 9/11 has attracted no shortage of conspiracy theories, but the Catholic conspiracy is the craziest, because it involves every single baddie in the conspiracy theory book.

Author Eric Phelps alleges that Peter-Hans Kolvenbach (the Black Pope) ordered 9/11 to instigate a modern crusade. The basic idea was to start a war between America and the Muslims in order to destroy the United States as well as the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Muslim holy sites located in Jerusalem. After destroying these buildings, the Shriners (who are really the remnants of the Knights Templar, a group that is no stranger to conspiracy theories) would rebuild Solomon’s Temple in their place.

In order to bring down the towers, the Jesuits employed members of “CIA/Nazi-trained, Masonic Zionist Mossad” in addition to their “CIA/Nazi-trained, Masonic Islamic Intelligence Agencies.” These Islamic agents enrolled in flight schools so the Catholic-controlled media could claim that the 9/11 planes had been hijacked by Arab terrorists when they had really been remotely guided by the NSA.

Phelps says the Jesuits picked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as targets because they were actually Catholic institutions—the World Trade Center supposedly housed Vatican gold in subterranean bunkers, though it was moved into the Federal Reserve Bank before the attack. Finally, the towers were destroyed not by the planes but by C5 charges.

In response to the attacks, President George W. Bush, who was secretly controlled by the Council on Foreign Relations, declared a war on terrorism. This enabled America to invade the Middle East and begin the Pope’s new crusade. Of course, over a decade later, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are still standing, as is America. However, conspiracy theorists claim that the Jesuits succeeded in destroying the Constitution by crafting the Patriot Act. The Vatican might have failed to win Jerusalem, but they’ve forced Americans to endure long lines and strip searches at airports.

1 Preparing For Alien Invasion

As a Jesuit, Pope Francis is at the center of several crackpot conspiracy theories, but none of them are quite as nutty as the idea proposed by Chris Putnam and Thomas Horn in their book Exo-Vaticana. According to these guys, Pope Francis is getting ready to reveal the existence of extraterrestrial life. He hopes to convince people that these visitors are fellow Christians, as there are probably alien versions of Jesus on other planets. When the UFOs show up, Pope Francis wants Catholics to welcome their Christian brothers with open arms.

However, as anybody who has seen The Twilight Zone can guess, these aliens don’t have our best intentions at heart. In fact, they aren’t even really aliens. These otherworldly beings are actually demons that have been to our planet before. These creatures (known as “Watchers”) once landed on Mt. Hermon, located on the Syrian-Lebanese border, took human wives, and fathered a race of giants known as the Nephilim. Fortunately, the Genesis Flood wiped out these hybrids, but now the Watchers are coming back for a second helping. With Pope Francis as their spokesman, most people will blindly accept their message of peaceful co-existence, only to be enslaved. However, the authors claim that a few humans are going to see through their disguise, perhaps with the help of special sunglasses, and this is going to lead to an interplanetary war between those who worship the demons and those who don’t. So remember to keep watching the skies: According to Putnam and Horn, the end is coming soon.

Nolan Moore was once bitten on the foot by an alligator, but he survived to become an ESL teacher. He hopes to avoid future alligator encounters and one day make it as a writer.

fact checked by Jamie Frater