The case of Emanuela Orlandi remains an unsolved mystery in the Vatican. Now the investigation has been put aside after bones were found at the German Cemetery. Vatican expert Ulrich Nersinger sorts through previous knowledge and conjecture.
Interviewer: 37 years ago, the then 15-year-old daughter of a court servant of Pope John Paul II. disappeared without a trace. In the summer of 1983, she had not returned home from music lessons. A lot of theories and conspiracy theories circulated, even old graves were opened. For decades, criminologists followed all possible clues – without ever succeeding.
You've been quite involved with the case, including the family, the brother who wants certainty about what happened to his sister. He does not want to give up even now and wants to have bone finds examined at his own expense. Do we then have to ame with a fair degree of certainty that Emanuela Orlandi is dead?
Ulrich Nersinger (Vatican expert): I think so. What we know to date goes in this direction, although of course we cannot be one hundred percent sure. But I think after so many years we must actually expect that she is no longer among the living.
Interviewer: Some theories about her disappearance seem rather absurd. About how she was kidnapped to be sexually exploited for Vatican drug parties. How did you react when this rumor came up?
Nersinger: When I first heard about it, I thought it had to be dismissed as fantasy. But in the meantime – about one and a half years ago, I think – such parties were broken up by the Vatican gendarmerie in an extraterritorial area of the Holy See in a palace of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
So there are also things that one would not have thought existed, but which do exist in reality. But whether they are related to Emanuela Orlandi in such a way, remains to be seen.
Interviewer: What do you think about the hijacking theory in general?? Witnesses claim to have seen Emanuela get into a dark BMW on the day of the disappearance.
Nersinger: This is probably the theory that most closely corresponds to reality. We are in 1983, where it is almost common for there to be kidnappings in Italy. It is the time of the scandals with the IOR, the Vatican Bank have. There are still the last outgrowths of Lodge P2 (Propaganda Due, a Masonic lodge, note. d. Red.), we have assassinations, we have assassinations. Let's remember the general of the Carabinieri who was killed by the Mafia. So the abduction theory seems to me to be very logical after all.
However, it is likely that the intention was not to kidnap Emanuela Orlandi, but another girl from the Vatican. We know with relative certainty, for example, that two young girls have been observed. This is, on the one hand, the daughter of the former Vatican police chief, Camillo Cibin, and, on the other hand, the daughter of the chamberlain of Pope John Paul II.
It was speculated at the time that they probably kidnapped the wrong girl to blackmail someone or some institution in the Vatican. As I said, this is a hypothesis, but today it is considered to be quite real.
Interviewer: As different as all these theories are. How do they even come into being in the Vatican?
Nersinger: We are in the Vatican in a country that hosts one of the oldest institutions in the world. Although Pope Paul VI. the papal court into the papal house in 1970, but we still have a lot of courtly things and a lot of gossip and a lot of intrigue. Such an atmosphere also creates rumors.
The supposedly well-intentioned manipulation of a pious Pope John Paul I's death. has backfired. Thus the Vatican made itself untrustworthy at that time and gave free space to conspiracy theories, speculations and rumors for the future.
Interviewer: Let us return to Emanuela Orlandi. Her case is now shelved for the time being. What do you think, definitively?
Nersinger: I do not believe. I think this is a never-ending story. We know Michael Ende's novel, which has the same title and is set in a fantasy world. But our story is set in reality, admittedly with fantasy elements, but I think it's really a never-ending story until you decide to perhaps disclose what is also known in the Vatican.
I believe the brother will not rest and will continue to investigate. It is also the professional opinion that some clarification is needed and I suspect that in any case it will not come to a definitive end.
Because even the investigations are not generally shelved. They are shelved as far as the excavations in the German Cemetery are concerned, but I suspect that we will have to talk about this one or two more times.
The interview was conducted by Hilde Regeniter.