Four kilograms of cocaine and 200g of cannabis were found in a Vatican car with diplomatic plates. The car was issued to 91-year-old Argentinean cardinal Jorge Mejia, emeritus librarian at the Vatican. He had retired back in 2003 and had since been bedridden after a heart attack.
The cardinal's secretary had asked two Italian men to drive the car for its annual maintenance. However, the men drove to Spain, bought the drugs and hoped to elude the police since they were travelling with the diplomatic plates, French media reports.
French officials seized the car on Sunday at a toll in Chambery in the French Alps. The men had no Vatican diplomatic passport and therefore has no form of connection with the Vatican. Through Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican confirmed that the car belongs to the institution, and it had been seized in France containing illegal drugs with it. And, as both men were Italian citizens, not from the Vatican City State, and neither staff at The Vatican. The Holy See is, therefore, free from any liability and any malice arising from the incident. This contradicts other media reports that The Vatican was ashamed about the controversy. There had been no further reports about the identity of the two Italian men implicated in the incident.
Pope Francis is reportedly friends with Mejia. Both are fellow Argentineans. He even visited Mejia in the hospital two days after being elected as the new pope.
"Cardinal Mejia is not well and obviously has nothing to do with this. It's now up to the police to pursue their investigations," Lombardi told The Telegraph.
Pope Francis had always been vocal about his objection of illegal drugs. In June, he referred to drug addiction as "evil" and had called against the legalisation of drugs. He made this remark in the wake of reports that several US states had legalized the use of marijuana and campaign had been on-going for its medical use.
Speaking in a drug enforcement conference in Rome, the Pope underlined that he rejects every type of drug use. He expressed his disappointment about the rampant drug trafficking that grew by the day because of "a deplorable commerce which transcends national borders."
I'm not sure what's more deplorable here... that the Vatican, on some level, had been implicated in running drugs over national borders, or that the beloved mate-sipping pontiff "rejects every type of drug use" and is throwing his weight around to obstruct sane drug policies in countries that desperately need it.