International News

Vatican Investigator Vows to Stay ‘Close to the Pain’ of ‘Vatican Girl’ Family

Emanuela Orlandi is pictured in a photo that was distributed after her presumed kidnapping in 1983. Italian media immediately raised the possibility that bones found at the apostolic nunciature to Italy in Rome could be the remains of Orlandi, who was kidnapped 35 years ago at the age of 15. A forensic examination of the bones is underway, the Vatican said Oct. 30. (CNS photo)

By Crux Staff

ROME (Crux) — On the 40th anniversary of the disappearance of the “Vatican Girl,” whose fate over the decades since has become the Italian equivalent of the Kennedy assassination, a Vatican prosecutor has promised to continue a new investigation while remaining “close to the pain” of the girl’s family.

It was June 22, 1983, when 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi disappeared after a music lesson in Rome. Because she was the daughter of a minor official of the papal household and her family lived in an apartment within the Vatican City State, her case over the years has become a magnet for conspiracy theories and speculation, much like the assassination of President John Kennedy in the U.S. 20 years earlier.

Last year, the Orlandi mystery was the subject of a highly rated four-part Netflix series called “Vatican Girl,” the success of which helped prompt both the Vatican’s promoter of justice, a veteran Italian lawyer named Alessandro Diddi, and the procurator of Rome, effectively the city’s district attorney, to open new investigations into the case.

At the same time, the lower house of the Italian legislature voted overwhelmingly to open a parliamentary inquest, a proposal which is currently before the Italian Senate.

Diddi released a statement June 22 through the Vatican Press Office offering an update on his efforts.

“Regarding the case of Emanuela Orlandi, in recent months this office has collected all the evidence available in the structures of the Vatican and the Holy See, also seeking attestations though conversations with the people who were responsible for certain offices at the time the events occurred,” Diddi’s statement said.

“We’ve proceeded to an examination of the material, confirming some investigatory leads that merit further consideration,” Diddi said, “and also sending all the relevant documents in the past weeks to the procurator of Rome, so that he can review them and proceed in the direction he considers most opportune.”

Diddi vowed “to continue the activity in this sense in the months to come, close to the pain of Emanuela’s family and aware of the suffering that the disappearance of a loved one causes.”

Emanuela’s brother, Pietro Orlandi, an Italian media personality who has dedicated his life to the search for the truth about his sister, has called for a public rally on Sunday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of her disappearance. He’s invited people to gather at Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo Sunday morning, bearing pictures of Emanuela, and then to process down the Via della Conciliazione to arrive in St. Peter’s Square for Pope Francis’ noontime Angelus address.

Orlandi has said that he expects the pontiff to offer a “message of hope” about the press to get to the bottom of his sister’s case.

Earlier this year, Orlandi provoked the ire of Pope Francis and other Vatican officials when he went on national television in Italy to play an audio recording of an ex-mobster alleging that the late Pope John Paul II connived in the operation of a pedophile ring inside the Vatican, and that Emanuela may have been killed to cover it up.

Orlandi himself seemed to lend credibility to the accusation when he said he’d been told that Pope John Paul II used to go out at night with a couple of Polish monsignors, and “it certainly wasn’t to bless houses.”