The case of the “disappeared from the Vatican” bounces back to the family track

Rebound in the Orlandi affair: the investigation could be directed towards the family drama. For forty years the judicial enigma has been working the Italian collective unconscious. In France, the dossier is best known to enthusiasts of news items or thanks to The Disappeared Vatican, the documentary released on Netflix this fall. This series, built around the testimonies of relatives of Emanuela Orlandi, journalists, and people claiming to have participated in the kidnapping, related the various hypotheses established to elucidate the mystery.

On June 22, 1993, Emanuela Orlandi, 15, a Vatican citizen, was last seen in central Rome after a music lesson. Since then, this affair has given rise to countless speculations against a backdrop of conspiracy theories implicating the secret services, the mafia, the high Vatican authorities or Freemasonry.

Letter exchange

Now all eyes are on the family track. According to the private Italian television channel La7, the Vatican prosecutor recently handed over to his Roman counterpart an exchange of letters between Secretary of State Agostino Casaroli, the Vatican’s second-in-command, and a priest, a former spiritual adviser to the Orlandi family, in September 1983.

Its purpose: to have confirmation that Natalina, the elder sister of the disappeared, was sexually abused by their uncle, Mario Meneguzzi, now deceased. The confessor recognizes that the young girl had confessed the facts to him. She was forbidden to speak on pain of losing her post in the Chamber of Deputies where her uncle, who ran the bar, had hired her some time before. These facts were known to investigators at the time since they had been confirmed by the direct testimony of Natalina Orlandi, according to La7.

Emanuela’s relatives accuse the Holy See

Mario Meneguzzi was close to the internal security services at the time, had answered certain anonymous calls received by the Orlandi family and escaped a shadowing of which he was aware without the investigators knowing how, Italian media reported on Tuesday. Finally, the composite portrait of the man seen with Emanuela Orlandi, June 22, 1983, the day of his disappearance, is similar.

However, Emanuela’s brother, Pietro, his sister Natalina and their lawyer, Laura Segro, under whose pressure the Vatican and then the Rome prosecutor’s office reopened the file in 2023, do not believe it. They accuse the Holy See of wanting to “exonerate” itself from its supposed responsibility in this affair. They must give a press conference this Tuesday afternoon in Rome.

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