Vatican: Reporting on '83 Kidnapping "Sensationalism"

Decries "Defamatory and Groundless" Accusation of Prelate

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican is calling into question the "serious and professional ethics" of some Italian journalists, who have refocused attention on the case of the 1983 disappearance of a daughter of a Vatican employee.



Press reports have brought attention to the case of Emanuela Orlandi, who was 15 when she disappeared in 1983. The reports air an accusation that the late Archbishop Paul Marcinkus ordered the girl's death. Illinois-born Archbishop Marckinkus died in early 2006, at age 84.

Sunday was the 25th anniversary of the girl's disappearance.

In a statement Tuesday, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, noted the "widespread journalistic disclosure" of "unverified" information from a "witness of extremely dubious credibility."

The accusations are based on the testimony of Sabrina Minardi, a former girlfriend of the head of an Italian gang active in the 1980s, Enrico de Pedis. De Pedis, who was shot in 1990, was the head of the Magliana Gang, which was suspected by some to be involved in the disappearance of Orlandi.

The Orlandi family challenged Minardi's statements as lacking proof. Minardi herself is a recovering drug addict.

Dubious

The Vatican statement said: "The tragic affair of the disappearance of young Emanuela Orlandi -- in 1983 -- has again become a focus of attention for the Italian media world.

"This has come about in a striking way, with the widespread journalistic disclosure of confidential information, information that remains completely unverified and that proceeds from a witness of extremely dubious credibility.

"This serves only to renew the immense pain of the Orlandi family, while showing no respect and humanity toward people who have already suffered so much.

"It also serves to spread defamatory and groundless accusations against Archbishop Marcinkus, who died some time ago and cannot defend himself.

"We in no way wish to interfere with the duties of the magistrates in their rigorous verification of facts and responsibilities. But at the same time, we cannot but express our extreme regret and reproof at methods of information that owe more to sensationalism than to the requirements of seriousness and of professional ethics."

Archbishop Marcinkus served as president of the Institute for the Works of Religion (known as the Vatican bank) from 1971 to 1989, and was the pro-president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State from 1981 to 1990. He died in the U.S. in 2006.

Orlandi's disappearance originally brought widespread international attention because of claims the kidnappers were using her as a bribe to gain the release of Mehmet Ali Agca. Ali Agca was the man who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981.