Vatican tomb is focus in search for teenager

THE Vatican yesterday insisted it has done everything possible to try to resolve the 1983 disappearance of an employee’s teenage daughter and has no objections to allowing inspection of the basilica tomb of a reputed gangster from a gang purportedly linked to her presumed kidnapping.

Its chief spokesman, the Rev Federico Lombardi, spoke following media speculation in Italy that the Vatican knows something it has not revealed about the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi in Rome.

Sparking the speculation was a Good Friday homily on 6 April in St Peter’s Basilica by the papal preacher, who decried that many “atrocious” crimes go unsolved.

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With Pope Benedict XVI among those listening, the preacher, the Rev Raniero Cantalamessa, included this ringing appeal in his homily: “Don’t carry your secret to the grave with you!”

The priest did not name any names or specify any crimes, but his unusual choice for Good Friday reflection immediately sparked speculation that the appeal must have been meant for some official with knowledge about the Orlandi case, which the Vatican has viewed as a kidnapping.

Emanuela Orlandi was 15 when she disappeared after leaving her family’s Vatican City home to go to a music lesson in Rome. Her father was a lay employee of the Holy See.

Because she vanished two years after the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in St Peter’s Square, some – Vatican officials among them – “shared the prevailing opinion that the kidnapping might have been used by some obscure criminal organisation to send messages or enact pressure in the context of the jailing and interrogation of the pope’s attacker,” Lombardi said, referring to the Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca.

Italian prosecutors cannot publicly discuss a case while it is under investigation, so it is unclear if the claims have shed any light on Orlandi’s disappearance, which has never been solved.