A man, who had clerical robes and documents, has been caught trying to hear confessions in St Peter’s Basilica (photo), in the Vatican, has said a judge in the city-state.
In a interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, judge Gianluigi Marrone said that the man claimed he was a priest, but did not say when the incident took place.
He added that the man was tried by a Vatican tribunal, but would not reveal the verdict or any punishment.
“He was caught by surprise in the basilica while he was trying to take his place in a confessional.”
“He was wearing clerical garb, but the expert eye of our personnel didn’t need much to sense something strange in his behaviour.”
Though the documents and Vatican pass appeared legitimate, checks with Italian authorities “unmasked him” as having posed as a priest before in Italy, Judge Marrone said.
“It was a case of usurping an ecclesiastical title, and thus he was tried by our tribunal.”
Much of the tribunal’s work involved petty thefts of Vatican visitors’ wallets, said the judge.