Vatican denies it paid to keep abducted schoolgirl in Britain

Vatican City: The Vatican on Tuesday denied it paid around 250,000 euros to keep schoolgirl Emanuela Orlandi in London after she vanished in Rome over three decades ago, saying a letter claiming this was “completely false and without foundation”.

“The Secretariat of State firmly denies the authenticity of the document and declares the information contained in it to be completely false and without foundation,” the Holy See said, as per Vatican Radio.

The Vatican statement referred to the letter allegedly written by late Italian cardinal Lorenzo Antonetti nearly 20 years ago which is due to be published in an upcoming book by Italian investigative reporter Emiliano Fittipaldi, “The Imposters”.

Italian daily La Repubblica on Monday published the five-page typed letter with an article by Fittipaldi, who says he obtained the alleged missive dated March 28, 1998 from “a source”.

The alleged letter by Antonetti, then head of the Vatican’s property office (Apsa) is among 200 pages of invoices and documents which Fittipaldi claims to have obtained from the unnamed source.

“If the document is genuine, it could open up shocking new angles on the schoolgirl’s disappearance in 1983. If it is a fake, it reveals an unprecedented power struggle within the pontificate of Francis,” Fittipaldi wrote in La Repubblica.

The alleged 250,000 euros of expenses between 1983 and 1997 include medical bills for Orlandi and accommodation in London. The last entry speaks of an alleged transfer to the Vatican and the “completion of final procedures”.

Numerous visits to London by Vatican officials are listed, as well as the involvement of ‘Commando 1’, possibly a Vatican secret service unit, Fittipaldi suggested.

“It is especially sad that with these false publications – which, among other things, wound the honour of the Holy See – the immense sorrow of the Orlandi family, with whom the Secretariat of State re-affirms its solidarity, should be exacerbated,” the Vatican stated.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke on Monday slammed the claims as “false and ridiculous.

Orlandi’s family has said it wants to meet Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to “calmly discuss” the alleged letter, according their lawyer, Laura Sgro.

The disappearance of Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee, who went missing in central Rome after a music lesson on June 22, 1983 is one of Italy’s most famous unsolved mysteries. Over the years, a number of theories have sprung up to explain what happened to her.

Possibly the most disturbing allegation was a claim in 2012 by Italian priest and Vatican exorcist Gabriele Pietro Amorth, who alleged Orlandi was knapped and forced to take part in sex parties and was later killed and her body disposed of.

Other theories include that Orlandi was abducted by the mafia in an attempt to blackmail the Vatican, or by terrorists seeking the release of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk jailed for trying to assassinate John Paul II.