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Director of Vatican Museums decries looting of Italian cultural treasures

Catholic World News - January 31, 2013

The director of the Vatican Museums has warned that Italy’s cultural institutions are being plundered, and “our immense national heritage is vanishing,” as criminals loot museums and libraries.

Antonio Paolucci made his comment in reaction to news that prosecutors in Naples have made new arrests in connection with thefts from the Girolamini Library. A spokesman for prosecutors said that the library’s losses—which could include as many as 4,000 books, including invaluable books that date back to the 16th century and include works by Galileo—were the result of “a premeditated, organized and brutal act, the sacking of an inestimable cultural heritage.'' The former director of the Girolamini Library, Massimo Marino de Caro, has admitted to selling off rare books from the collection.

Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums, said that the government should help provide protection for institutions that house valuable books or works of art, and especially for smaller institutions that cannot afford sophisticated security systems. “Every looted painting or plundered library is a wound to civilization which cannot be healed--a disaster for Italy and humanity as a whole,” he said.

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