Thank goodness, justice has triumphed again. Msgr. Cesare Burgazzi will not be serving a prison sentence.
Msgr. Burgazzi, in case you’ve forgotten, is the Vatican official-- make that former Vatican official-- who was stopped by police as he cruised through a red-light district in Rome. Understandably, when the officers asked him for identification, he assumed they were kidnappers, and hit the gas. And when other police cars joined in the chase, he naturally assumed that they, too, were members of the notorious kidnapping gang whose members dress in police uniforms and drive squad cars.
Eventually caught, Msgr. Burgazzi told the unfortunate cops-- the ones who weren’t getting medical attention after he’d bowled them over: “You all have no idea who I am.” Which was true, since he hadn’t yielded his papers yet.
When the monsignor was finally brought up on charges, and the word of his night’s misadventures found their way into the Roman press, his colleagues at the Vatican Secretariat of State issued a statement that the news reports were “wholly without foundation”-- which means, in this context, that the news reports were accurate. Pressed for comment, the lead-footed cleric said that it was outrageous to suggest that he was prowling for young boys. Prowling for older boys, reporters duly noted, is not in itself illegal.
Resisting arrest apparently isn’t illegal, either, so Msgr. Burgazzi is walking away from the charges. It’s a remarkable ending to a remarkable story. Seeing how the machinery of Italian justice handled the case, this observer can’t help thinking that maybe the monsignor was right when he told the poor cops that they didn’t know who they were tangling with. If nothing else he was a convincing witness in his own defense.
Burgazzo also said a year earlier he had had a similar ‘kidnapping’ experience.
Now that he’s free from the threat of imprisonment-- and free, too, of the obligations of work at the Vatican, having been quietly eased out of his post-- Msgr. Burgazzi will be free to tool around the streets of Rome at night once again. Here’s hoping he doesn’t have yet another encounter with kidnappers, because I somehow doubt the police will rush to his aid.