ROME – Both sides in an unusually fierce war of words in the “Vatican girl” case now seem to be seeking to calm the waters, suggesting that a new Vatican investigation of its most notorious unresolved mystery will proceed with the cooperation of the most interested parties.

At the same time, each side also appears to be sending signals that the tensions which erupted in recent days over the legacy of St. John Paul II may have been forgiven, but not necessarily forgotten.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, told reporters Wednesday that the investigation will continue.

“The investigations go forward, with the best of intentions … The idea of the Holy See is precisely that of arriving at clarity,” Parolin said, “to see what was done in the past, both on the Italian side and in the Vatican, and to see if there’s something more that can be done now, always with the aiming of arriving at clarity.”

The reassurance became necessary in light of the intense polemics unleashed after Pietro Orlandi went on Italian television last week and played an audio recording of an ex-Roman mobster who alleged that John Paul II had connived in a pedophile ring inside the Vatican, and that Orlandi’s sister may have been killed to cover it up.

The sister, Emanuela Orlandi, was the daughter of a minor Vatican employee whose family lived on Vatican grounds, and her unexplained disappearance in 1983 triggered a national sensation in Italy which remains vivid forty years later. Over the decades since, speculation has linked Orlandi’s fate with every imaginable scenario, from international terrorism to the mafia and high finance as well as sexual abuse.

The one constant in most theorizing has been a strong conviction that the Vatican knows more than it’s revealed.

The case was popularized in a recent Netflix series titled “Vatican girl,” which has created new momentum to get to the bottom of the case. The lower house of the Italian legislature has approved a measure to create a parliamentary inquest, and last December the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice, Alessandro Diddi, announced that the Vatican was opening its own investigation.

Pietro Orlandi’s comments on John Paul II last week, which came after an eight-hour meeting with Diddi, triggered an unusually strong Vatican reaction. A bristling piece by the Vatican’s Editorial Director, Andrea Tornielli, criticized Sgrò in particular for allegedly citing attorney/client privilege in declining to provide certain information to Diddi. Pope Francis himself used last Sunday’s Regina Coeli address to term the charges against John Paul II “offensive and unfounded.”

Given the public row, the fate of the Vatican inquest seemed in doubt, and in that context Parolin’s comments offered confirmation that it would go ahead. Speaking on the Atlandtide program on Italy’s LA7 network Wednesday evening, both Orlandi and the family’s attorney, Laura Sgrò, voiced gratitude.

Orlandi appeared to soften his language on the former pope.

“I never accused John Paul II,” he said.” Referring to the audiotape of the former mobster, he said, “They’re not my accusations. I’m not in a position to say whether he’s lying or telling the truth … I told Diddi I felt obliged to give him the recording.”

At the same time, there were also suggestions that the tensions haven’t been fully resolved.

For one thing, Parolin also expressed irritation anew at a perceived failure of Orlandi and Sgrò to be fully forthcoming.

“We were very surprised at the lack of collaboration, because they asked for this,” he said, referring to the investigation. “Why would you pull back now in such a brusque manner? I don’t understand … Our intent, truly, is to reach clarity.”

In response, Orlandi said Wednesday night that Parolin has been “ill informed.”

“Does it seem to you that we’d ask for the opening of an investigation for 40 years only to pull back now?” he said. “I told Diddi that he can call me anytime, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I’m available … call me tonight, tomorrow morning, I’ll be there.”

Sgrò she’d been called by Diddi and had what she felt was a “great meeting,” and was stunned afterwards to learn from Vatican media coverage that she’d been seen as “reticent.” He said she’d written to Diddi to reaffirm that “if anything is in doubt, Pietro is willing at any time to go in to clarify it.”

At the same time, she indicated a desire to let bygones be bygones.

“This is an historic occasion,” she said. “We can write a new page of history together. The search for the truth about Emanuela doesn’t just belong to the Orlandi family, but to all the honest people of this country.”

Parolin added one other point about why the investigation must go on.

“I believe that we owe it above all to Emanuela’s mother, who’s still alive and who suffers much, to do this with the best intentions,” he said.

Some took the fact that Parolin referred specifically to the mother, Maria Pezzano Orlandi, today in her nineties, and not to the Orlandi family – which also includes Emanuela’s three sisters, Natalina, Federica and Maria Cristina – as an indirect rebuke to Pietro, since he’s generally seen as the spokesperson for the family.

As far as the audio recording goes, Orlandi expressed hope that authorities will interrogate Marcello Neroni, the former mobster now in his 80s who made the comments about John Paul II in a 2009 conversation with Italian journalist Alessandro Ambrosini, who today operates a blog called “Criminal Nights.”

Orlandi said Diddi had told him vis-à-vis Neroni, “We’ll try, and if we don’t succeed, because as you know it’s another state, I’ll ask for help from Lo Voi,” referring to Francesco Lo Voi, the chief prosecutor of Rome.

Orlandi said during the Atlandtide program that he’s received contradictory information about Neroni’s whereabouts. Ambrosini, who also took part in the broadcast, said that Neroni “doesn’t want to be found” but expressed a belief that he’s still in the country.

“He’s not the kind of person to go abroad, and he still has interests in Italy,” Ambrosini said.