Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Unearthing more corruption at the Vatican

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jul 10, 2019

Pause for a moment, and think about what it means that the Vatican is excavating two tombs at the Teutonic Cemetery. The Vatican today confirmed what was already apparent: that the excavation of these tombs has been prompted by an investigation into the mysterious disappearance of a teenage girl in 1983.

The fate of Emanuela Orlandi— the daughter of a Vatican employee, who lived inside the Vatican grounds— is unknown. Sensational theories have abounded: theories involving kidnapping, murder, sexual abuse, the criminal underworld, and sinister forces within the Vatican. Italian police have received many tips, of uncertain reliability, and no conclusive evidence to support criminal charges. In March the Vatican opened its own investigation.

One of many rumors about Emanuela Orlandi’s demise was that her body had been buried in the Teutonic Cemetery. So when the Vatican announced plans to excavate two tombs there, the reason for the investigation was apparent. Based on whatever evidence they have uncovered, the Vatican investigators are taking that rumor seriously— so seriously that they are prepared to disturb the remains of two long-dead princesses.

The Teutonic Cemetery is located inside the walls of the Vatican, just a few steps from the sacristy of St. Peter’s basilica. If the remains of Emanuela Orlandi are buried there, that implies that criminals gained access to the Vatican, carrying the body of a missing girl (of a murder victim, presumably), and dug up the grounds of the cemetery. To do all that, and escape detection, would surely require the help of some powerful Vatican official(s).

The theory seems outlandish: the stuff of a wildly implausible Dan Brown novel. Yet the Vatican is apparently taking it seriously. Think about that. Think about the level of corruption that it implies. And say a prayer for our Church.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: nix898049 - Jul. 12, 2019 1:19 PM ET USA

    There may be another problem as a result of the excavation. A report says it turns out no one is buried in either of the tombs. Curiouser and Curiouser.

  • Posted by: MWCooney - Jul. 10, 2019 11:28 AM ET USA

    Iudex ergo cum sedebit, quidquid latet apparebit, nil inultum remanebit.