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Books written by Charles Murr


Murder in the 33rd Degree

The Gagnon Investigation into Vatican Freemasonry

Was Pope John Paul I murdered? If so, by whom, and to what end? Was the Catholic liturgy sabotaged to strip it of truth, power and beauty? If so, by whom, and to what end? Was an international plot underfoot to destroy the Vatican’s financial stability? If so, by whom, and to what end?

There was one man who knew the answers to these and many other questions plaguing the post Conciliar Church. In 1975, then Archbishop Edouard Gagnon was personally commissioned by Pope Paul VI to investigate the Vatican’s Roman Curia. This thorough investigation concluded in 1978, the “year of the three Popes.”

In Murder In The 33rd Degree, author Charles T. Murr, a close and lifelong friend of Cardinal Gagnon, gives his firsthand account of what transpired during that papal investigation. Murder In The 33rd Degree answers many questions that many people have been asking for half a century.


"As a young priest in Rome, Fr. Charles Murr worked closely with Cardinal Édouard Gagnon on the dangerous mission Paul VI had entrusted to that eminent figure: investigating the Vatican curia to uncover membership in Freemasonry. Fr. Murr’s intimate role made him acquainted with the unsavory agendas of high-ranking prelates and the intrigues surrounding the death of John Paul I and the election of John Paul II… Fr. Murr does not peddle conspiracy theories; he tells the riveting story as he lived through it and recorded it in his notes and diaries—what he saw and heard, what his friends learned and suffered. Most of all, we discover how a divinely-given opportunity for serious reform was tragically refused. Murder in the Thirty-Third Degree is the most impressive eyewitness account of postconciliar Vatican politics to appear in decades."

—Dr. Peter A. Kwasniewski: PROFESSOR, COMPOSER, AUTHOR,

“Three cheers for Monsignor Murr! He has written a riveting book which will immediately become a precious historical document for the recent, often perplexing history of the Church since the Second Vatican Council. It contains a very precious and important eyewitness account of events in Rome in the 1970’s connected with the investigation of the Roman Curia which Pope Paul VI asked Canadian Cardinal Edouard Gagnon to undertake… Murr, a friend of Gagnon, has given us a unique first-person memoir which sheds new light on the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I in 1978 and on Gagnon’s relations with three Popes. In the end, after 50 years, Murr calls for the release of Gagnon’s secret report, which lies hidden in some Vatican archive… I applaud Murr for his courage."


“Murder In The Thirty-Third Degree is a powerful insider narrative about subversion of the Church at the highest levels under three Popes. The Vatican needs to make Cardinal Gagnon’s dossier public so that the reform of the Curia can begin in earnest.”


"...Important historical developments are intertwined with the individual dramas of the characters portrayed herein, alongside Vatican politics and intrigue… Murr has done the Church a great service by telling Gagnon’s story.”


“Fr. Murr provides a first-hand account of the work the remarkable Cardinal Gagnon did, at the bidding of Pope Paul VI, to expose the presence of Masons in the Roman Curia.”


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The Godmother: Madre Pascalina

A feminine Tour de Force

Few women in the 20th century wielded more power and influence than did Josefine Lehnert (1894-1983). No woman, in twenty centuries, ever wielded more power and influence in the Vatican.When Josefine Lehnert entered Holy Cross Convent [Menzinger, Switzerland] she was given the name “Pascalina.”


In 1917, the beautiful young nun from Bavaria and two other Sisters were sent to Munich to organize and maintain the nunciature. The Holy See’s newly appointed Nuncio to Bavaria was 41-year-old Eugenio Pacelli. For the rest his diplomatic career, Schwester Pascalina would remain his personal secretary, housekeeper and ne plus ultra confidante.


When Pacelli was recalled to Rome in 1929 and subsequently made a cardinal and appointed Secretary of State, he requested that Sister Pascalina be permitted to continue working with him. She was the first woman ever to reside in the Apostolic Palace. In 1939, on the first ballot and by a unanimous [minus one] vote, Eugenio Pacelli became the world’s 260th Pope; the twelfth to take the name “Pius.”Romanità —an unofficial yet rigorous ecclesiastical/Italianate protocol that permeates diplomacy to this day— saw fit to “promote” the new pontiff’s secretary. Henceforth, “Sister” Pascalina was “Mother” Pascalina. Strong woman that she was, “La Madre” was keenly and constantly aware of the tightrope she was walking —and more so of the snake pit just below it. As the pope’s closest confidante, she strove for anonymity; kept any opinion she might have had on any matter, private or public, strictly to herself; avoided photographers and journalists like the plague and —perhaps most challengingly of all— ignored every cruel rumor and innuendo, never dignifying one of them with a response.


Undoubtedly, Pope Pius XII was a giant among men; an outstanding intellectual; a savior to countless victims of World War II; a courageous advocate for the voiceless; a born leader who understood a complicated world and its leaders, good and evil; a Pope worthy to be called “Great”.It is said that “Behind ever great man is a great woman.” The history of Pope Pius XII and Mother Pascalina requires one very important word change to that maxim: “Beside every great man stands a great woman.”

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The Syrian

Hilarion Capucci and the Priceless Ransom

The year is 1983. Just outside Beirut, on Highway 51 to Tyre, three masked men bring a Mercedes sedan to a halt. The driver of the car is shot dead; its owner, 63-year-old, Joseph Khouri, is tied and blindfolded and taken hostage.


Despite next-to-nonexistent systems of communication in war-torn Lebanon, within two hours, news of the murder and abduction reaches the Vatican. One of the pope’s top men in the Middle East, the Archbishop of Tyre, Joseph Khouri, is being held for ransom.


The money demanded is sizeable; the time given for payment, three days. In Rome on business, a young American priest has just been told of the Beirut kidnapping and is called upon to help save the life of his old friend, Joseph Khouri. Fr. Charles Murr is pushed to soliciting the aid of a man whom most Churchmen – very much including the kidnap victim himself – had treated with disdain for over a decade. Yet now he is perhaps the only man in the world in a position to save Joseph Khouri. That man is Hilarion George Capucci, “The Archbishop of Jerusalem in Exile.” Capucci and Murr were housemates and friends since the mid 1970’s.


This story is one of altruism, of personal fortitude – and, no doubt, though it will sound strange to the unbeliever – of Christian heroism; not Khouri’s, not the Vatican’s, not Murr’s, but that of Hilarion Capucci, one of the most misunderstood and underestimated men of our times.


Memoirs of and Unwed Father

To appreciate the title of this work, MEMOIRS OF AN UNWED FATHER [his sixth book], the reader should know, right up front, that its author is a priest —a Catholic priest; a Catholic and very Roman priest.


Fresh from the hippocampus of raconteur Charles Theodore Murr, comes this (mostly humorous) selection of short stories. Set in New York, Rome, Guadalajara, even La Tuna Agria, these tales are meant to provoke some thought and reflection but, more than anything else, smiles. Welcome to the unusual world of Charles Theodore Murr; profession: Father.


Pehaps Love

Dyadic Interpersonalism

Everyone knows – or thinks he knows – what love is.
In his presentation on the works of French phenomenologist Maurice Nedoncelle, author Charles Theodore Murr shares with us the riches of a profound thinker of our time, a man who drew on the wisdom of past ages and interpreted it in light of the insights and crises of the twentieth century.


His expertise embraced a variety of fields: philosophy, psychology, and the history of human thought. Nedoncelle was also a theologian, and as such he affirmed that faith had a significant contribution to make to our understanding of human subjectivity and interaction.


His work offers believers today an attractive way to interpret our contemporary world. The “Age of Faith” is no more, however, and it is probably prudent to assume that a casual reader who has picked up this book is just as likely to be an agnostic as a believer. Hopefully, neither reader will be disappointed.


Lo Esencial

Jerónimo Ripalda

Lo ESCENCIAL es, según Don Carlos Murr-Letourneau, lo esencial de la fe Cristiana. Es la concentración de la enseñanzas de la verdadera fe Católica, por supuesto, no en su totalidad (esto requeriría una enciclopedia entera), pero lo básico que se necesita para poderse llamar Católico.

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Image by Annie Spratt

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