ROME – Pietro Orlandi, the brother of the “Vatican Girl” whose unsolved disappearance in 1983 has captivated Italy for over 40 years, has taken a jab at the Vatican, suggesting it tried to block a parliamentary inquest into the case and shift blame onto the family.

Speaking to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Orlandi hailed the formation of a parliamentary commission of inquest last year as “a great step forward” in his sister’s case, adding, “I am happy that the institutions did not give into pressure from the Vatican, which absolutely did not want it to be approved.”

The daughter of a minor official of the Vatican’s Prefecture of the Papal Household, whose family lived in an apartment on Vatican grounds, 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi vanished after a music lesson on June 22, 1983.

For decades, her case has been perhaps the most notorious unresolved mystery story regarding the Vatican, as well as a perennial source of speculation and conspiracy theories, being linked over the years with the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, Cold War intrigue, the Italian mafia and Vatican bank scandals, and, more recently, to the clerical sexual abuse crisis, though to date none of those theories has been confirmed.

In October 2022 the case experienced renewed notoriety when a four-part miniseries on Netflix titled “Vatican Girl” was shown, renewing public pressure in Italy for efforts to find the truth.

In January 2023, the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice, veteran Italian attorney Alessandro Diddi, announced that he was opening a new investigation of the case, and shortly thereafter, the chief prosecutor for the city of Rome, Francesco Lo Voi, said his office would likewise launch its own probe.

In the meantime, Orlandi’s older brother, Pietro, who has devoted his life to the quest for the truth about his sister’s disappearance, also called for a parliamentary panel to look into the case, in part on the grounds that it would be less inclined to be deferential to the Vatican.

After several delays related to controversial remarks by Pietro Orlandi linking St. John Paul II to rumors of a pedophile ring operating inside the Vatican at the time of his sister’s disappearance, Italian parliament finally approved the new commission, the third to be established for the Orlandi case, last December.

In his remarks to Corriere della Sera, Orlandi accused the Vatican of being behind the delay in getting the parliamentary commission passed, saying it took so long to schedule the vote of approval because “I think the Vatican didn’t want the commission.”

He said the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice, Italian lawyer Alessandro Diddi, had made comments to this effect during the first hearing on whether a new commission was needed, saying, that to open a third inquiry would be a “pernicious interference with the excellent work we are already doing.”

“This episode made me think a lot. My sister was a Vatican citizen and therefore the Vatican should have been happy with a commission from the Italian State within its parliament. However, this help was not welcomed, probably because they were looking for a convenient truth,” Orlandi said.

He also implied that the Vatican is afraid of media attention, given that the hearings of a parliamentary commission can be public, whereas inquires made through the Rome Prosecutor’s Office are not.

Asked about reports that surfaced last year implying that an uncle in the family could have played a role in Emanuela’s disappearance, which aired on Italian news program Tg La7 in July 2023, Orlandi also implied the Vatican was behind it.

“It was the latest of the Vatican’s attempts to shift attention to the family, so that the commission would not go through,” he said, calling the news “senseless” and saying that an investigation by Rome prosecutors at the time of Emanuela’s disappearance excluded the uncle from consideration as a suspect.

Last year’s reports detailed a 1983 exchange between the late Italian Cardinal Agostino Casaroli and an unnamed Colombian priest who’d served as a confessor and spiritual advisor to the Orlandi family in which Casaroli asked for confirmation that an older sister of Emanuel, Natalina Orlandi, had been subject to unwanted sexual advances by an uncle who is now deceased.

The Colombian cleric reportedly responded confirming that the uncle had made unwanted advances to Natalina, however, during a press conference organized after the report aired, Natalina said it had happened years before Emaneula’s disappearance and that once she declined her uncle’s advances, nothing further happened.

She also said her uncle had been out of Rome on a family vacation when Emanuela vanished, a fact she insisted was known to investigators at the time.

In his interview, Orlandi said that incident was talked about “as if it were new, but the issue had already been addressed and closed for years.”

The parliamentary commission, he said, “must not start because there is a family that is suffering, but because this is much more than a simple disappearance. There are too many misdirections and involvements to clarify.”

Orlandi was also asked about an episode in the “Vatican Girl” series, produced by journalist Andrea Purgatori, who at one point said he had been contacted by a former employee of the Holy See Press Office about an alleged call from the kidnappers.

In his response, Orlandi said he has received no further leads on this and can no longer ask Purgatori, as the journalist passed away last summer, but he has launched an appeal for information on social media in hopes that the alleged caller will respond.

“I hope she can contact me. This woman called Purgatori and said she had received a call from the alleged kidnappers in the days of her disappearance. She was then told, by her higher-ups, to forget about the call,” he said, saying, “It would be interesting to speak with her.”

Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen