Vatican catches impostor priest

Vatican security officials have caught a man in clerical garb attempting to pass himself of as a priest who wanted to hear confessions in St Peter's Basilica.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the fake priest was was tried by a Vatican tribunal.

Vatican City Judge Gianluigi Marrone said the man was wearing clerical garb and carried documents alleging he was a priest.

"Some time ago I had to deal with an unusual case - a fake priest," Judge Marrone told L'Osservatore Romano.

"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 [basilica] personnel didn't need much to sense something strange in his behaviour," the judge said.

The man was stopped and his documents checked, and although he had what appeared to be legitimate documents, including a Vatican pass, personnel were still suspicious, he said.

The man was unmasked when his documents were checked with Italian authorities, the judge said, adding that the man had previously passed himself off as a priest in Italy.

"It was a case of usurping an ecclesiastical title and thus he was tried by our tribunal."

Judge Marrone did not say when the incident happened, what the tribunal's verdict was or whether the man received punishment.

The Vatican's judicial offices were closed on Saturday afternoon, and the judge was unavailable for further comment.


Impostor pastor collared in confession (Sydney Morning Herald, 7/7/08)


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