The Pope and the Spy Who Loved Him
By Sean Flynn | GQ
The butler did it! That was the tabloid take on the unprecedented breach of security that shook the Vatican last year, when a trove of secrets plucked from one of the most impenetrable places on earth—the pope’s private quarters—was leaked to the media. But why did he do it? And did he act alone? Sean Flynn digs around the Vatican’s strange, cloistered world and unravels a cloak-and-dagger scandal that’s a lot more layered than the Church would have you believe—and that may be just the beginning.
The whole thing began, as many cryptic scandals do, with an apparently innocuous phone call. In the spring of 2011, a friend that Gianluigi Nuzzi hadn’t heard from in quite some time asked to meet for coffee in Milan. Nuzzi’s friend didn’t work in journalism, which is Nuzzi’s business, and he didn’t mention that he might have the seeds of a story.
At the café they exchanged pleasantries, caught up. But then Nuzzi’s friend announced his true intention: He had another friend—he wouldn’t say who, exactly—who wanted to share some secrets from inside the notoriously leakproof walls of the Vatican. Nuzzi didn’t find this particularly surprising. People often want to tell him things: He’s on television, the host of an investigative news show called The Untouchables. But he didn’t find it particularly interesting, either. Though he’d written a well-received book in 2009 about the Vatican bank’s history of shady dealings, Nuzzi had no desire to become a specialist in the inner workings of the world’s smallest sovereign nation. And who knew what an anonymous source might be offering.
Still, his friend was insistent. Nuzzi told him to pass along Nuzzi’s cell-phone number.
Sometime later, Nuzzi got another call, this time from a man he did not know. He doesn’t know his real name, so he refers to him as The Contact. The Contact told Nuzzi that, if he was interested, he should take a train from Milan, where he lives and broadcasts his show, to Rome and then go to a bar near Piazza Mazzini. Nuzzi still didn’t know if he was interested, but this was the sort of thing—shadowy encounters with strangers—that Nuzzi enjoys. He has been a journalist for almost twenty years, mostly in print before moving to television a few years ago, and prefers working with confidential sources and documents. He likens himself to a submarine, prowling beneath the waves and surfacing only when he has something to report. Think of how many fish have yet to be discovered, he says, how many trenches still are unexplored!
Two men, both Italians in their forties dressed in conservative suits, met Nuzzi at the bar. They asked him many questions— about his professional interests, his tactics, how he keeps anonymous sources anonymous. They were affable and polite, but Nuzzi guessed they weren’t clerics. "They let slip a few words," he later wrote, "that recalled the barracks more than the sacristy." They offered no secrets. Rather, Nuzzi realized, they were assessing him, gauging whether he could be trusted.
Apparently he could be. A second meeting was arranged—another bar, the same two men. After some small talk, one of them pulled from his pocket a folded sheet of paper. He handed it to Nuzzi, who smoothed it out, read quickly. On it was a list of grievances involving two well known monsignors inside Vatican City. But the complaints were anonymous, which reduced them to gossip. These were the dark secrets—nameless trifles?
Nuzzi handed back the paper. "No, thank you," he told the men.
Both men smiled and said nothing.
Nuzzi was confused. But the men seemed satisfied, and then he understood: The tip had been a bluff, a test to see if he’d grab any silly slander or if he was a serious journalist interested in a serious story.
"Let’s go for a walk," one of the men said. Nuzzi followed them outside, where a van was parked. They drove for almost an hour, but in circles, looping through the streets, making sure they weren’t followed. Then they stopped in front of an apartment building not far from where they’d started. The men had a key to a vacant unit. They led Nuzzi inside, down a hallway, and into a room empty except for a single plastic chair.
A man was sitting in the chair. He told Nuzzi he had worked inside the Vatican for about twenty years. He professed to be a devout and pious Catholic, which Nuzzi would come to believe because the man quoted Gospel passages and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI from memory. The man was uncomfortable meeting with a journalist, but he said his conscience left him no alternative. There are scandals in the Holy See, he told Nuzzi, hypocrisies and frauds practiced upon the Church, and even upon Benedict himself, that he could no longer abide.
The man said he had documents that would prove the truth. He had collected memos and letters for years, and he would give them to Nuzzi. But their meetings could never become known. They could never speak on the phone or communicate by e-mail. They would meet only in person, on a prearranged schedule. Also, the man wanted a code name.
"Maria," the man suggested.
Nuzzi smiled. He liked it. Maria, he thought. The messenger above suspicion.
Read the full article at: GQ.com
Top Image from: GQ.com
Documents fuel conjecture of Pope’s resignation, immunity request
Was Pope Benedict fired by the Knights of Malta?
Pope’s Secrets Are Beginning to Leak Out
A sign from above? Lightning strikes Vatican after Pope Benedict resigns
Bombshell: Pope Benedict XVI resigns
Pope’s butler fascinated by occult, Free Masons, spies and Vatican scandals
Suspicions, doubts linger after pope’s butler verdict. A wider conspiracy?
What the Pope’s butler saw – aide arrested over Vatican leaks
Latest News from our Front Page
White House Pushes Race War, Then Blames Guns For Flanagan's "Race War"
"You want a race war (expletive)?" Asked shooter
The Obama administration is blaming guns for the WBDJ-TV shooting, even though the shooter, Vester Flanagan, was influenced by the White House’s race baiting.
The White House has been falsely insinuating that racism is the dominant factor behind numerous events over the past several years, even those that didn’t involve race at all, and ...
How Google Destroyed the Internet
The internet was created to resolve a simple problem: in communications networks, any central node through which all messages passed was vulnerable to attack or takeover. To counter this, engineers designed a network where any node would pass messages to other nodes, routing around any damage.
Then came commerce and the democratization of the internet.
Under this model, frightened sheep flock to ...
German government opens borders to all Syrians
The German government has flung open Germanyâ€™s borders to any and all Syrians, regardless of whether they claim to be asylum seekers.
A statement from the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees said that â€śGermany will become the member state responsible for processing their claims.â€ť
This new diktat means Syrians will no longer have their asylum cases reviewed to see if ...
Left Pushes End of Church Tax Exemptions
Emboldened by their latest win in the Supreme Court over same-sex "marriage," the left has been trumpeting the cause tax exemptions for religious institutions at a much faster rate, setting the stage for it to become a national agenda.
Immediately following the Supreme Court decision that declared same-sex marriage legal, Time's Mark Oppenheimer openly declared that churches should be stripped of their ...
Meet Americaâ€™s First School District to Serve 100% Organic Meals
When schools in California’s Sausalito Marin City District return to session this August, they will be the first in the nation to serve their students 100 percent organic meals, sustainably sourced and free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
More than 500 students at Bayside MLK Jr. Academy in Marin City and Willow Creek Academy in Sausalito will eat fresh, local food ...
|More News » |