Pope Francis slams offensive and baseless insinuations about John Paul II and the missing girl


April 16, 2023 | 12:36 p.m

ROME (AP) – Pope Francis on Sunday publicly defended Saint John Paul II, condemning “offensive and baseless” insinuations that have surfaced recently about the late pontiff.

In remarks to tourists and pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said he aimed to explain the feelings of believers around the world by expressing gratitude for the memory of the Polish pope.

A few days ago, it was the media organ of the Vatican described as “slanderous” An audiotape from an alleged Romanian gangster, hinted that John Paul would be out looking for underage girls to molest.

The tape was shown on an Italian television program by Pietro Orlandi, brother of Emanuela Orlandi, the teenage daughter of a Vatican official who lives in the Vatican. The disappearance of the 15-year-old in 1983 is an enduring mystery that has spawned countless theories and hitherto fruitless investigations in the decades since.

Francis noted that in the Sunday crowd in the square there were pilgrims and other believers in the city to pray in a shrine for the Divine Mercy, a quality that John Paul emphasized so much in his papacy, which ran from 1978 to 2005.

“Confident to interpret the sentiments of all the faithful of the whole world, I turn a grateful thought to the memory of Saint John Paul II, in these days the subject of unfounded offensive revelations,” said Francis, his voice becoming stern and his words applauding.

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Last week, Pietro Orlandi met for hours with Vatican prosecutors who were earlier this year reopened the investigation in the disappearance of his sister. The Italian parliament has also launched an investigation committee into the case.

Emanuela disappeared on June 22, 1983, after leaving her family’s apartment in Vatican City to go to a music lesson in Rome. Her father was an ordinary employee of the Holy See.

Pope Francis views St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican on April 16.

Among the theories about what happened to her are those that link her disappearance to the aftermath of the failed assassination attempt on John Paul in 1981 in St. Peter’s Square or to the international financial scandal at the Vatican Bank. Still other theories envision a role played by Rome’s criminal underworld.

Netflix’s latest four-part documentary “The Vatican Girl” explored those possible scenarios and presented new testimony from a friend who said Emanuela told her a week before her disappearance that a high-ranking Vatican cleric had made sexual advances on her.

Her brother has always insisted that the Vatican knows more than it says. The Vatican prosecutor in charge of the investigation said the pope had given him a free hand to try to find the truth.

While in the Vatican last week, Pietro Orlandi provided Vatican prosecutors with an audiotape from an alleged Romanian mobster insinuating that John Paul would be out looking for underage girls to molest. The Vatican’s editorial director noted in a scathing editorial that the insinuation lacked any “evidence, evidence, testimonies, or corroboration.”

Writing in the Vatican newspaper, Andrea Tornielli wrote, “No one deserves to be vilified in this way, without a shred of evidence, on the basis of ‘rumors’ of an unknown person in the criminal underworld or some anonymous anonymous commentary produced on live television.”

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John Paul’s longtime secretary, Polish Cardinal Stanislav Dziwisz, also criticized the allusions as “unrealistic, false and laughable if not tragic and even criminal”.

Pietro Orlandi’s attorney, Laura Sgro, insisted her client had not accused anyone.

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