London, July 6 : A man pretending to be a priest was caught trying to hear confessions in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, a judge in the city-state has said.
In an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Judge Gianluigi Marrone said that the man had clerical robes and documents alleging that he was a priest. "Some time ago I had to deal with an unusual case - a fake priest," the Daily Express quoted Marrone, as telling the newspaper."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," he added.
He said that the man was stopped and his documents checked, and even though he had what appeared to be legitimate documents, including a Vatican pass, personnel were still suspicious.
Marrone said that checking with Italian authorities about the documents 'unmasked him,' adding that the man had 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," the judge said.
Marrone did not reveal when the incident took place, what the tribunal's verdict was or if the man received any punishment.
He said that much of the tribunal's workload involves cases of people having their wallets stolen in the basilica or in the Vatican museums, with most of those crimes going unsolved.
Marrone said that if the culprits are found, they are turned over to Italian police.