The Catholic Church’s leading exorcist priest has sensationally claimed a missing schoolgirl thought to be buried in a murdered gangster’s tomb was kidnapped for Vatican sex parties.
Father Gabriel Amorth, 85, who has carried out 70,000 exorcisms, spoke out as investigators continued to examine mobster Enrico De Pedis’s tomb in their hunt for Emanuela Orlandi.
Last week police and forensic experts broke into the grave after an anonymous phone call to a TV show said the truth about Emanuela’s 1983 disappearance would be ‘found there’.
And although bones not belonging to the mobster were recovered they have not yet been positively identified as hers.
However Father Amorth, in an interview with La Stampa newspaper, said: ‘This was a crime with a sexual motive.
‘It has already previously been stated by (deceased) monsignor Simeone Duca, an archivist at the Vatican, who was asked to recruit girls for parties with the help of the Vatican gendarmes.
‘I believe Emanuela ended up in this circle. I have never believed in the international theory (overseas kidnappers). I have motives to believe that this was just a case of sexual exploitation.
‘It led to the murder and then the hiding of her body. Also involved are diplomatic staff from a foreign embassy to the Holy See.’
Today there was no immediate response from the Vatican to Father Amorth’s claims.
But Vatican officials insisted they had always co-operated with the investigation into Orlandi’s disappearance – a claim that her brother has often disputed.
Father Amorth is a colourful figure who in the past has also denounced yoga and Harry Potter as the ‘work of the Devil’. He was appointed by the late Pope John Paul II as the Vatican’s chief exorcist.
It is not the first time Father Amorth has raised eyebrows with his forthright views – two years ago he said sex scandals rocking the Catholic Church were evidence ‘the Devil was at work in the Vatican.’
In 2006, Father Amorth, who was ordained a priest in 1954, gave an interview to Vatican Radio in which he said Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Russian dictator Josef Stalin were possessed by the Devil.
According to secret Vatican documents recently released the then wartime Pope Pius XII attempted a ‘long distance exorcism’ of Hitler but it failed to have any effect.
Charismatic mobster De Pedis, leader of a murderous gang known as the Banda della Magliana, was gunned down aged just 38, by members of his outfit after they fell out.
Detectives investigating the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, 15, in 1983, believe De Pedis is linked to her kidnap and the body of the Vatican employee’s daughter has never been found.
Last month the diocese of Rome, on orders from the Vatican, granted investigators permission to open up the tomb in the Sant’Apollinare basilica close to Piazza Navona in the centre of Rome.
At the time of his funeral there were raised eyebrows when despite his criminal past church chiefs allowed De Pedis to be buried in the crypt of Sant’Apollinare.
At the time it was said the burial was given the go ahead because prison chaplain Father Vergari told bishops that De Pedis had ‘repented while in jail and also done a lot of work for charity,’ including large donations to the Catholic Church.
De Pedis, whose name on the £12,000 tomb is spelt in diamonds, was buried in Sant’Apollinare church after he was gunned down in 1990 in the city’s famous Campo De Fiori.
He and his gang controlled the lucrative drug market in Rome and were also rumoured to have a ‘free hand’ because of their links with police and Italian secret service agents.
The disappearance of Orlandi reads like the roller coaster plot of a Dan Brown Da Vinci Code thriller with a touch of The Godfather thrown in for good measure.
Twelve years ago a skull was found in the confessional box of a Rome church and tests were carried out on it to see if it was Orlandi after a mystery tip off but they proved negative.
In 2008 Sabrina Minardi, De Pedis girlfriend at the time of Orlandi’s disappearance, sensationally claimed that now dead American monsignor Paul Marcinkus, the controversial chief of the Vatican bank, was behind the kidnap.
Monsignor Marcinkus used his status to avoid being questioned by police in the early 1980′s probing the collapse of a Banco Ambrosiano which the Vatican had invested heavily in.
The collapse was linked to the murder of Roberto Calvi dubbed God’s Banker because of the Vatican links and his body was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London in June 1982.
His pockets filled with cash and stones and it was originally recorded as a suicide but police believe he was murdered by the Mafia after a bungled money laundering operation.
At the same time as Minardi made her claim a mystery caller to a missing person’s programme on Italian TV said the riddle of Orlandi’s kidnap would be solved ‘if De Pedis tomb was opened’.
Following Minardi claims the Vatican took the unusual step of speaking publicly and dismissed her claims about American Monsignor Marcinkus, who died in Arizona four years ago.