Netflix’s ‘Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi’ is a true-crime documentary series that delves into the mysterious disappearance of fifteen-year-old Orlandi. During the investigation, several theories surface about his whereabouts. From the involvement of the Italian mafia to the conspiracy hatched by the Russians, all sorts of angles appear in the case of the seemingly normal teenager. The most interesting thing about all of these theories is that the Vatican continues to be at the center no matter how you look at it. One of the other controversies, which deeply shook the Catholic institution, mentioned in the documentary is Vatileaks. What is it, how is Emiliano Fittipaldi connected to it and where is he now? Let’s find out.
What is Vatileaks?
Vatileaks, or the Vatican Leaks Scandal, received significant attention in 2012 and involved the leaks of sensitive Vatican documents, which exposed its endemic corruption. The leaks included confidential letters, memos and financial details highlighting “corruption and abuse of power”. It started with the broadcast of a program called “The Intouchables”, followed by the publication of Gianluigi Nuzzi’s book “His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI”. As the situation worsened, the leaked documents revealed a turbulent power struggle within the Vatican, with things like a plot against Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the skirmish over control of the Vatican bank and the schemes put in place to gain more control over the choice of the next pope.
Later, Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict’s butler, confessed to stealing the confidential documents and handing them over to Nuzzi. Hundreds of photocopied documents were found in his apartment after his arrest. He was placed in a holding cell for two months and then released under house arrest. Additionally, Nuzzi, who also wrote Merchants in the Temple, and four others were tried in Vatican court. Emiliano Fittipaldi’s 2015 book “Avarizia,” which focuses on the Vatican economic scandal, plunged him into the middle of the Vatileaks controversy.
Francesca Chaouqui, public relations specialist and member of the former Pontifical Reference Commission on the Economic and Administrative Structure of the Holy See; Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda, Secretary of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See; and his personal assistant Nicola Maio, were also tried. The Vatican accused them of forming “an organized criminal association” and “of having committed several illegal acts of disclosing information and documents concerning the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the State (of Vatican City) .”
In October 2012, Gabriele, accused of theft and disclosure of classified documents, was sentenced to eighteen months in prison but was later pardoned by the pope. While he was presented as solely responsible for the leaks, it is theorized that there were other people involved, who were saved by turning the butler into a scapegoat. In July 2016, Chaouqui and Balda were found guilty and received 10 months suspended prison sentences and 18 months in prison respectively. Maio, Fittipaldi and Nuzzi walked free from trial. Nuzzi and Fittipaldi were cleared as they were not Vatican officials, so the court had no jurisdiction over them.
Where is Emiliano Fittipaldi now?
Originally from Naples, Emiliano Fittipaldi lives in Rome. A graduate of the University of Naples Federico II, he obtained his master’s degree in journalism at the LUISS Business School. In 2007, he started working as a journalist for L’Espresso. In 2020, he left his post to create Domani, of which he is the deputy director. He is the winner of the Ischia Prize, the Sodalitas Prize and the Gaspare Barbiellini Amidei Prize for the press and new media section.
In addition to ‘Avarizia’, he has written ‘Lussuria’, which focuses on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and ‘Gli impostori’, in which he talks about the Emanuela Orlandi case and the documents that link it to the Vatican. These documents list expenses such as accommodation and food incurred by the Vatican on Orlandi. According to Fittipaldi, the documents reveal a total of 500 million liras spent to keep the circumstances surrounding the teenager secret. This put him further at odds with the Vatican, especially after the Vatileaks trial, which he said “should never have happened.” Although his work may get him in trouble with the powers that be, Fittipaldi is dedicated to uncovering stories and exposing institutions that abuse their power and position.
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