Vatican girl, 15, who disappeared in 1983 was assaulted by Holy See figure, friend tells Netflix series

The Vatican Institute for Works of Religion, commonly known as the Vatican Bank, had been accused of sending money to Solidarity.

The woman, whose face is obscured in the documentary, said Emanuela told her she had “a secret to confess” in a conversation they had about a week before she disappeared.

Emanuela said that as she walked around the grounds of the Vatican, where she lived with her family in an apartment of grace and favor, she was “disturbed” by a “person very close to the Pope”.

When asked if the harassment was sexual, the friend told Netflix, “Absolutely, yes.”

Emanuela was “scared, even ashamed,” said the now middle-aged friend.

She broke down in tears saying she had never disclosed the information before. When asked if she was afraid of the consequences, she replied, “I’ve always been afraid. It’s a terrible world.

Mark Lewis, the Emmy-winning director of the Netflix series, told The Telegraph.

“Pedophilia was a taboo subject”

“The idea that there was pedophilia in the Church has been such a taboo subject for so long. And it’s even worse – it’s not just pedophilia inside the Catholic Church, it’s on Vatican soil. I think it was a very scary place for her.

The Magliana gang may have used this “sex secret” as “the ultimate blackmail lever” against the Vatican, said Andrea Purgatori, an Italian journalist who has been following the case from the start.

Emanuela may have been “a sacrificial lamb” – the Vatican did nothing to save her because it didn’t want her secret exposed, he said.

Emiliano Fittipaldi, an investigative journalist and another expert on the case, said: “If it was a question of money, it would have been better to kidnap a cardinal or a prominent prelate. Why kidnap this girl and not a cardinal?

“The only explanation for me is that she had a big secret that could have created a huge scandal [for the Vatican].”

Ms Orlandi’s family, as well as many Vatican watchers, say the Holy See knows exactly what happened to the teenager, how she died and where she is buried.

They allege the Holy See has been engaged in a cover-up for decades, hiding the matter and obstructing attempts to find out what happened.

“I am absolutely certain that the Vatican knows what happened to Emanuela,” said Laura Sgrò, the family’s lawyer.

“It’s time for the Vatican to say exactly what happened and close its family. There is no time to waste,” she said, pointing out that key figures in the case have already died and others are elderly.

“We will never stop looking”

Ms Orlandi’s brother Pietro, who fought tirelessly for 38 years to find out what happened to his sister, said: “Now is the time to tell the truth. It’s been far too long.

“We will never stop looking for her.”

Her 92-year-old mother should at least be allowed to lay flowers at her daughter’s grave, wherever that may be, he said.

The Vatican declined to grant interviews for the four-part Netflix documentary, nor did it respond to The Telegraph’s request for comment.

There was hope that reformist Pope Francis could shed light on the mystery when he was elected in 2013.

But the only remark he made to the family was that “Emanuela is in heaven”, without disclosing how, where or why she died.

“It chilled my blood to hear the pope say that Emanuela was dead,” said Pietro Orlandi. “We don’t know if she is alive or dead because there is no evidence. But for a head of state to say Emanuela was dead meant he knew more than we did.

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