by United Kingdom on July 19, 1999 at 19:53:05:
The Independent newspaper.
17th July, 1999.
PRIEST ON TRIAL FOR SEX IN VATICAN BOOK
THE TRIAL of an elderly cleric for a scandalous insiders' account of
life in the Vatican has begun at its highest ecclesiastical court,
the Sacra Rota. A 300-page book, Gone with the Wind in the Vatican,
has provoked a furious reaction from the Catholic authorities, who
have tried to have it banned. It paints a picture of sexual misdoings,
rampant power struggles and cronyism among the clergy. Attempts to
have the book taken off the shelves and prevent translation into other
languages have backfired and sales have rocketed.
The book was a collective effort under the nom de plume i Millenari
- the Millennarians. The pseudonym is an anagram of the name of the
principal author, a bespectacled 72-year-old, Monsignor Luigi Marinelli,
who retired last year after thirty years as an official in the Congregation
of the Eastern Churches.
The intentions of the book are made clear in a statement on the front
cover: "It's time the Church asked forgiveness to Christ for the
many infidelities and betrayals of its ministers, specially by those
in authority at the top of the Vatican hierarchy." Among the juicier
snippets in the book is an item about a bishop who was surprised at
night by the Rome police as he was semi-naked in a car with another
man. Another bishop apparently stole diocesan funds to pay for his
illegitimate child while a third was allegedly caught at the Swiss
border with a suitcase stuffed full of bank notes.
Msr Marinelli and his co-writers denounce what they call the Vatican's
rampant dog-eat-dog careerism, which they say would shame Wall Street
They accuse senior clerics of sending the current Pope off globetrotting
and usurping his powers in his absence. The book also alleges that
Masons have infiltrated the higher ranks of the clergy and that nepotism
is as rife today as it was in centuries past.
Although no one is named, many characters are said to be easily identifiable.
Kaos Edizioni, the small Milan publishing house that backed the book,
says it has ordered several reprints to meet demand and that most of
the sales have been to religious book shops.
A veteran Vatican watcher described the book as a "mixture of
incidents that probably were true and others that certainly were not".
Msr Marinelli was vague yesterday about some of the more explicit sexual
allegations and said he felt he had been made a scapegoat by the Church
authorities. He refused to attend yesterday's hearing, saying he had
not been informed of what canon law he had violated and that he had
the right to discuss the matters first with his superiors. The hearing
was closed to the public. The case against Monsignor Marinelli was
brought by a man who claims the book defamed his uncle, a deceased
After being criticised for attempting to censor the work, the Vatican
issued a statement, saying the purpose of the trial was to "protect
those who had been defamed, not to prevent freedom of expression".
If he is found guilty, Monsignor Marinelli could be deprived of his
priestly functions and prevented from saying mass.
All we at The Sabbatarian News can say is that when you smell smoke,
you will probably find a fire and / or ashes.