ROME (RNS) An illicit relationship that began in the confessional between an elderly Italian priest and a Gypsy woman from Romania nearly 50 years his junior resulted in more than $460,000 in blackmail payments to keep the woman quiet, Italian newspapers reported Tuesday (Sept. 17).

Confessional in a Basilica

Confessional in a Basilica photo courtesy CRM via Shutterstock

The reports say the relationship started four years ago with shared personal revelations in the confessional before evolving into a sexual affair and then an extortion racket that cost the priest at least 350,000 euros ($462,000).

At one point, the priest is reported to have handed over his entire monthly stipend to the woman, as well as an inheritance he received years earlier.

The payments reportedly began with the aim of helping the family of the cash-strapped woman but were soon made in order to prevent her from revealing evidence of the affair.

The woman, now 32 and identified in reports only by her first name, Ramona, has been detained by authorities on charges of extortion. The case was revealed after the now penniless 80-year-old priest filed a complaint detailing threats he received and the financial burden he suffered.

A person who answered the phone at the church where the affair started, the historic Santuario della Consolata in Turin, declined to comment. Law enforcement officials in Turin also refused to comment.

The woman is believed to be a Gypsy, also known as Roma, a nomadic ethnic group with roots across Eastern Europe.

4 Comments

  1. This story too opens up the debate on Celibacy of the priesthood recently sparked off by His Holiness the Pope.
    Need arises to re-think on the question with open mind so as to prevent scandal which may destroy the credibility and the sanctity of priesthood. Marriage is a sacred relationship instituted by Church herself and why impose celibacy on priests without making it an option fort those who have the strength and commitment whole heatedly?
    Let it be debated with responsibility. Over to the priests themselves.
    Let us pray for the Church and the priests.

  2. Isn’t this a case really of the entire blame being put on the woman? Wasn’t there the involved of two people in the affair? Not only the person seen at fault to be a woman, but also she belonged to the vilified group, called Gypsys – which of course, puts the full blame on her and nothing on the priest. We should rethink what the situation was, and acknowledge what occurred.

  3. Isn’t this a case really of the entire blame being put on the woman? Wasn’t there the involvement of two people in the affair? Not only is the person seen at fault to be a woman, but also she belonged to the vilified group, called Gypsys – which of course, puts the full blame on her and nothing on the priest! We should rethink what the situation was, and acknowledge what occurred.

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