Italian Police Eavesdrop on the Pope's Phone Calls

June 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Pope Benedict XVI has become the first Pope to be recorded during a corruption investigation by Italian police, it emerged yesterday.

The leader of the world’s two billion Roman Catholics was unwittingly recorded by officers who were listening in on a suspect’s mobile phone conversations.

The Pontiff made four telephone calls to Italy’s civil protection chief Guido Bertolaso following last year’s devastating earthquake in the centre of the country which left 300 people dead.

Bertolaso is at the centre of a corruption probe involving sexual favours and back handers for reconstruction projects in the L’Aquila region which was hit by the earthquake 14 months ago.

Pope Benedict is not suspected of any wrong doing – although Vatican officials are said to be furious that he was secretly taped – while it has also emerged that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also recorded speaking to Bertolaso.

Both had called Bertolaso to offer support and thanks for the efforts of his civil protection team who were providing rapid reaction relief in the devastated area.

Officers monitoring Bertolaso’s mobile telephone were stunned when they heard the Pope’s private secretary Georg Ganswein call and say: ‘Hello. I have His Holiness the Pope on the line for you.’

The details of Pope Benedict’s intercepted calls emerged in several Italian newspapers today/yesterday but the content was not reported although it is believed to have been fairly mundane and complimentary. . . . (continue reading)
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16 Responses to “Italian Police Eavesdrop on the Pope's Phone Calls”
  1. Anonymous says:

    I strongly suspect the Vatican is in fact bugged by whatever intelligence agencies are in a position to do so without getting caught. Foreign intelligence gathering is not usually a police operation, hence why this was interesting/unusual. I suspect the NSA has listened in on more than four papal phone calls over the years.

  2. Elijah says:

    The headline obviously implies that the pope was the target when he was not.

  3. Patrick Madrid says:

    Well, I've made my case. If you can't see it, I can't make you see it. So we'll just leave it at that.

  4. JamesIII says:

    Patrick,

    I disagree with you. If you read only the headline the logical next thought is that the Vatican is bugged. That is a technique, highly developed in the tabloids and NY Times, to attract readers to a "sensational topic" and then not deliver the expected goods.

  5. Thomas says:

    1.1 billion Roman Catholics became 2 billion practically overnight because we don't believe in contraception. ;)

  6. Anonymous says:

    How did about 1.1 billion Roman catholics become 2 billion overnight?

  7. www.yahoo.com says:

    Don't blame them after what happened to John Paul I and the Vatican Bank Scandal. Read "In God's Name. If half true or totally true says a lot of what's going on in the Vatican.

  8. Sheila Deeth says:

    Fascinating, though I've got to admit, the Mail wouldn't be my first choice for news.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Did you happen to read the uninformed comments at the bottom of the article in the link you provided for this story?

  10. Patrick Madrid says:

    As I say, Christina, there was nothing misleading about the headline. Let's think this through:

    1) The police were eavesdropping on Bertalaso's calls, incoming and outgoing. Check.

    2) Four incoming calls were made by the pope to Bertalaso's phone. Check.

    3) The police (see step one) listened in on those four calls made by the pope. Check.

    4) The police eavesdropped on the popes's calls. Check.

    It's pretty straightforward, really. And whether or not the police intended to listen to the pope's calls, or whether they were supposed to somehow know the pope would be calling, or the fact that the recordings of those calls may or may not have been erased, are irrelevant to the question of whether or not it is accurate to say that the police listened in on the calls.

  11. Christina says:

    I agree with AndyMo, initially I thought the police had purposely sought to listen to the pope. But it seems rather that they were listening to this other person and the pope happened to call.

    Just how exactly were they supposed to know that the pope was going to call so they could stop listening? As it was the conversations were deleted since they were not relevant.

  12. Joe of St. Thérèse says:

    though the Church isn't just Roman, people tend to forget that

  13. Patrick Madrid says:

    I don't see it that way, AndyMo. Keep in mind that the police were eavesdropping on (i.e., wiretapping) Bertalaso's phone calls. So, since at least four of his calls involved conversations with the pope, de facto, the police eavesdropped on the pope's calls to Bertalasco. I don't see anything misleading in the headline.

  14. AndyMo says:

    Two contrasting thoughts:

    1. It's a bit misleading to say that the "Italian Police Eavesdrop on Pope's phone calls." The police were investigating someone else for corruption. The pope just happened to call him.

    2. On the other hand, remember that the pope is the head of a state. What kind of fury would rain down if we taped (without their knowledge) the president of the USA's calls, or the British Prime Minister's? There would rightfully be an uproar.

  15. Capt. Jeff says:

    Probably number 4, unfortunately.

  16. Joe Heschmeyer says:

    "The leader of the world's two billion Roman Catholics"?

    Wow. We only had 1.1 billion in February of this year (see http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=5516). Either…
    (1) we've had a banner year,
    (2) that Anglican Constitution was a heck of a lot more effective than anyone realized,
    (3) the Daily Mail takes Unam Sanctum to mean that Protestants are still Catholic in some sense, or
    (4) British tabloids are still lousy at journalism.

    I'm hoping for (1). :-)

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