After the Grillo show at the San Giovanni square (much ado about nothing?) Rome and the world was getting geared up for Ratzinger’s last days as Rome’s Bishop.
Pope Benedict XVI, Ratzinger’s official pontifical title, would call it quits with his last “Angelus” (when the Pope on Sundays at 12 noon sharp talks for about 10 minutes from his papal apartment to the crowd down below on St. Peter’s square) and with his last outdoor papal audience, again on St. Peter’s square. I would be there for both unique events.
The papal audience (they always take place on Wednesdays. During the winter months the audience takes place in the Sala Nervi, aka the Paolo VI hall) occurred during a wonderful quasi-spring day in Rome.
As I got there I managed to take a pic of a man who came across as being rather sad. Sad because Ratzinger was leaving, or sad because he would have no idea of how the new Pope would handle his own personal situation, a situation which has been plaguing him and his widowed mother for 30 years now? The mysterious man? Pietro Orlandi. For those who aren’t quite up on the (many) mysteries of Italy (it’s a country that after all gave the world people such as the Borgias, Machiavelli, etc.!), Pietro is the brother of Emanuela. Emanuela 30 years ago while going to music school (or coming back from it) disappeared, like literally into thin air. Her whereabouts since then have been basically a mystery.
Pietro and Emanuela’s father had worked in the Vatican and was possibly tied to the I.O.R. (Istituto per le opere di religione), the Vatican’s bank (which has in the past had more than one “obscure” financial affair with crooked bankers, the Mafia, etc.). One conspiracy theory says that Emanuela may have disappeared because her father new something which he wasn’t supposed to know about the I.O.R.’s financial books. The other theory is that her disappearance (and subsequent death?) was instead tied to facts surrounding the Turkish terrorist, Ali Agca, the man who took some shots at the former Polish Pope, Wojtyla on St. Peter’s square. Apparently, Wojtyla had tried some 6 or 8 times to bring up the issue of Emanuela’s disappearance with the powers-that-be, but to no avail.
What her brother Pietro tried to obtain from Ratzinger remains to be seen and is probably of no public domain. What could be encouraging for the Orlandi family is that once Bergoglio became Pope, he celebrated mass at the Santa Marta church, which is located inside the Vatican walls. The Orlandi family still lives there, and both Pietro and his mother got to meet Pope Francesco. Television images showed Pietro whispering something into the Pope’s ear. What he said to him also remains a mystery.
Still, the look on the man’s face that day at St. Peter’s square for Ratzinger’s very last audience was somewhat sad, a face which seemed to say: “So here we go ONCE again, having to start ALL over with yet another Pope, trying to find an answer to my sister’s whereabouts” (as of yet, Emanuela’s body has never been found)!
As you can see from the pics, the audience itself was rather festive with the odd tourist-follower who shed a tear or two as this papal audience would be the very last one for Ratzinger before his departure by helicopter (and I was at St. Peter’s for that one too) for the papal summer residence near Rome, Castel Gandolfo (he’ll stay there two months before returning to a special residence located within the Vatican’s walls).
Pics on Ratzinger’s departure from St. Peter’s: