MSGR Battista Ricca, 57, recently appointed by Pope Frankie as his “eyes and ears” within the Vatican bank after he launched reforms aimed at cracking down on reported money laundering, tax evasion and other financial abuses, was allegedly shifted from a diplomatic post in Uruguay after outraging Catholic bigwigs there with a string of gay indiscretions.
These, according to this report, included having to be rescued from a broken down lift by firemen, who found a young – “known to local police” – trapped in the elevator with him.
On another occasion in the same year – 2001 – the priest was reportedly beaten up in a gay bar or, according to this report, at a cruising area, and had to call for help, arriving back at the nunciature, the Vatican embassy, with bruises to his face.
But what outraged Church officials most was the fact that Ricca arrived in Uruguay with his gay lover, Patrick Haari, in tow. The monsignor allegedly met the officer during an earlier posting to Berne in Switzerland and took him with him when he was sent to Uruguay.
The “intolerable ménage” allegedly prompted the Vatican’s nuncio, or ambassador, to appeal to Rome to have the monsignor removed. The priest was later transferred to Trinidad and Tobago and eventually recalled to Rome.
The alleged scandal is particularly embarrassing because Msgr Ricca is a trusted confidante of the Pope.
As well as having a supervisory role within the Vatican bank, which is officially known as the Institute for the Works of Religion, he is also the director of the Vatican residence where the Pope has chosen to live.
The Vatican has denied the claims. Vatican spokesman Padre Federico Lombardi sought to dismiss the claims about Msgr Ricca’s private life, saying:
What has been claimed about Msgr Ricca is not credible
Msgr Ricca himself has not yet responded to the allegations. But the Vatican had emphasised that his appointment as prelate for the IoR was technically an interim one, thus raising the possibility that the job might not last long.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn and Angela K