- "It seems the power to absolve debt is greater than the power of forgiveness."
- ―Archbishop Gilday[src]
Gilday recommended Michael Corleone to receive the Order of Saint Sebastian, one of the Catholic Church's higher honors. This recommendation was approved, and Pope Paul VI presented Michael with the medal.
Later, at a meeting with Michael and B.J. Harrison, he convinced Michael to deposit $600 million in the Vatican Bank in exchange for majority control over International Immobiliare, a European real estate company in which the Church owned a quarter interest. However, it was all a scam: Gilday, along with the Bank's chief accountant Frederick Keinszig and Don Licio Lucchesi, had conspired to swindle Michael out of the money and give it to pezzanovanta in high political places. He even backed Michael when his ownership of Immobiliare was threatened by other shareholders, in order to give Michael the impression that he was his ally, but constantly brought up the ill health of Pope Paul VI in order to stall the deal and highlight his own supposed powerlessness in the situation.
However, when his scam was about to be exposed by Cardinal Lamberto (the new Pope John Paul I), Gilday conspired with Lucchesi and Keinszig to poison the Pontiff's tea. After Vincent Mancini succeeded Michael as head of the Corleone family, he ordered the deaths of Gilday, Keinszig, and Lucchesi in revenge for the swindling of Michael. Following these orders, Al Neri entered the Vatican and hid in the shadows, shooting Gilday as he was climbing a set of circular stairs, using a gun he had hidden in a box of chocolates. Neri then threw the Archbishop's corpse down the center of the spiral staircase.
Real life sources
Behind the scenes
Originally, Gilday was a Sicilian speaking Archbishop called Rocco Graziadei, who was executed not by Neri, but Vincent, who hid in the catacombs in Sicily after Michael's funeral and shot him.