The Opus Dei administered Basilica
of Sant'Appolinare in the center of
Rome--less than a mile from the Vatican
Enrico de Pedis (1954-1990) was an Italian mobster who despite (or because of) his involvement with the Drug Trafficking in Rome had ties to both the Vatican and to the Italian Secret Service. He was a suspect in the unresolved kidnapping of Emanuela Orlandi, the fifteen year old daughter of a Vatican employee. The kidnapping itself seems to have been linked to the Vatican Bank scandal that involved the 1982 murder of Roberto Calvi, the head of the Banco Ambrosiano in which the Vatican Bank was a major stockholder and which was heavily involved in money laundering for the Italian underworld. The Banco Ambrosiano had gone bankrupt in 1982. Calvi was a member of an illegal Italian Masonic Lodge (illegal because it had been expelled from The Grand Orient of Italy, the Italian Masonic organization) to which many powerful Italian, politicians, and Mafiosi also belonged. It was rumored that there were several Vatican officials, including American Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, head of the Vatican Bank at the time, belonged. It has been theorized that the Orlandi kidnapping was part of the mob’s warning the Vatican that it had better cover the losses of the bankrupt Banco Ambrosiano. Whatever—the whole thing is a mess. Who’s in bed with whom in the Vatican is an issue that needs to be resolved and cleaned up with far greater urgency than the “problem” of American nuns.
When de Pedis was gunned down in a Roman street in 1990 his family reputedly paid the Vatican more than a half million dollars to construct an elaborate tomb in the Church of Sant’Appolinare a Vatican-owned basilica administered by Opus Dei. And here we thought The DaVinci Code was just a piece of improbable fiction! It was the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, at that time Cardinal Ugo Poletti, a man of many questionable ties, who argued on the family’s behalf. (de Pedis had been married in that church and expressed a wish to be buried there.) Supposedly de Pedis had reversed himself and persuaded his fellow mobsters to back off pressuring the Vatican over the Banco Ambrosiano debts and for this act of piety he was accorded such a privileged burial place. It all boils down to: Hey you guys in the red dresses, leave the nuns alone and go clean your own house. There simply is no integrity left to the Vatican’s reputation and this is a formula for disaster. O, and guess what--the Vatican wants closer clergy supervision over Caritas Internationalis, the lay administered charity fund that distributes billions annually to the poor of the world. Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities are the American agencies that are part of Caritas. No, Holy Father, better leave this to the laity. We have had enough scandals.