The Vatican has insisted it has done everything possible to try to resolve the 1983 disappearance of an employee's teenage daughter and has no objections to allowing inspection of the basilica tomb of a reputed mobster from a gang purportedly linked to her presumed kidnapping.
Its chief spokesman, the Reverend Federico Lombardi, spoke following media speculation that the Vatican knows something it has not revealed about the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi in Rome.
Sparking the speculation was a Good Friday homily on April 6 in St Peter's Basilica by the papal preacher, who decried that many "atrocious" crimes go unsolved.
With Pope Benedict XVI among those listening, the preacher, the Rev Raniero Cantalamessa, included this ringing appeal in his homily: "Don't carry your secret to the grave with you!"
Emanuela Orlandi was 15 when she disappeared after leaving her family's Vatican City apartment to go to a music lesson in Rome. Her father was a lay employee of the Holy See.
Because she vanished two years after the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square, some, Vatican officials among them, "shared the prevailing opinion that the kidnapping might have been used by some obscure criminal organisation to send messages or enact pressure in the context of the jailing and interrogation of the pope's attacker," Rev Lombardi said, referring to the Turkish gunmen, Mehmet Ali Agca.
Referring to the recent speculation, Rev Lombardi said in a written statement that "doubt has been raised as to whether Vatican institutions or personalities truly did everything possible to contribute to the search for the truth about what happened." He then gave details of what he said were Vatican efforts to help during the early days of the case.
"All the Vatican authorities collaborated, with commitment and transparency, with the Italian authorities to deal with the kidnapping in the first phase, and, then, later in the successive investigations," Rev Lombardi maintained. "As far as we know, there is nothing hidden, nor are there 'secrets' in the Vatican to reveal on the subject."
Apparently in hopes of putting to rest speculation, the Vatican is willing to allow a reputed mobster's tomb in the Vatican Basilica dell'Apollinare, a Rome church, to be inspected, and the remains moved elsewhere, Lombardi added.
Four years ago, Italian news reports quoted the dead man's former lover as telling Rome prosecutors that mobsters from the city's crime syndicate, known as the Magliana gang, had kidnapped the girl and had her body dumped in a cement mixer near a beach outside the capital. Italian prosecutors cannot publicly discuss a case while it is under investigation, so it is unclear if these claims have shed any light on the disappearance.