vaticancity.jpgUnless you’re a pope or a saint, it’s hard in Vatican City to make headlines years after your death. But not when you’re Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, the late former Vatican bank head whose name alone elicits controversy.

Marcinkus, whose tenure at the Vatican’s Institute for Religious Works was marred by financial scandal, was accused this week of ordering the killing of a 15-year-old girl in 1983.

Marcinkus died in 2006 and could not defend himself from the accusations, brought by a girlfriend of a slain mobster and given ample coverage in Italian newspapers — despite big questions about her credibility (See here and here).

So, the Vatican stepped up to defend him. In an unusually speedy reply by Holy See standards, it issued a harsh condemnation of the “defamatory and groundless  accusations.”

It said the Italian media had stooped to sensationlism, abandoning professional ethics in the pursuit of an eye-grabbing headline. The slain mobster’s girlfriend had accused Marcinkus of hiring a hitman to kidnap and kill Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee.