Rent boys and dodgy financial dealings: just another normal week in the life of the Vatican

AN INVESTIGATION into claims that a former Rome policeman recruited underage boys for nine Catholic Church clergymen is being investigated by the authorities.

News of the investigation was  reported in the same week that a senior Italian cleric was arrested over allegations of corruption and fraud.

The paedophile rent boy ring claim was made by Don Patrizio Poggi, 46, who served a five-year sentence for abusing teenage boys while he was a parish priest at the San Filippo Neri church in Rome. He said he revealed that clergymen had hired very young rentboys for sex inside churches  in order to:

Protect the Holy Church and the Christian community.

He claimed the boys were chosen because they were starving and desperate, and that the former policeman would recruit the boys, mostly eastern European immigrants, outside a gay bar named Twink near Rome’s Termini train station. The cop reportedly sat in his Fiat Panda – marked “Emergency Blood” to avoid parking fines – to make his selection.

The boys were paid €150-€500 (£130-£425) to perform sex acts in church premises across the capital. Poggi also accused the former Carabinieri of selling consecrated hosts for satanic rites.

Poggi identified the nine clergymen, including two senior church officials and a religion lecturer. Three people have been placed under formal investigation.

The allegations were rejected by the Vatican. Cardinal Agostino Vallini, head of the Catholic Vicariate of Rome, said the priest made false claims out of a desire for vengeance and personal resentment because the Vatican refused to reinstate Poggi after he served his term.

Vallini said:

The cardinal expresses his full confidence in the magistracy and declares himself full convinced that this slander will be demolished, demonstrating Poggi’s claims to be untrue. God will hold everyone accountable for their deeds.

Monsignor Scarano

Monsignor Scarano

Meanwhile, the senior Italian cleric arrested over allegations of corruption and fraud has been named as Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, who works in the Vatican’s financial administration. A secret service agent and a financial broker have also been arrested. They are suspected of trying to move €20-million illegally.

Scarano was suspended from his post “about a month ago, after his superiors learnt about an investigation into his activities”, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

Scarano has been under investigation by Italian police for a series of suspicious transactions involving the recycling through the Vatican bank of a series of cheques described as church donations.

Scarano is a priest from Salerno in southern Italy, who is called “monsignor” in recognition of his seniority at the Vatican.

The two others who were arrested are Giovanni Maria Zito, described as an Italian secret service agent, and the other, Giovanni Carenzio, is a financial broker.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn (Scarano report)

Update: The Times reports today that Poggi has been arrested for slander after prosecutors concluded he had made up the allegations. They said his claims were “untrue or based on mere hearsay” and motivated by personal animosity against some of the clerics named. They accused him of attempting to coach possible victims to back up his allegations.