VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis may have often spoken out against the “evil” of drug use, but the Vatican was facing embarrassment on Tuesday after 9lb of cocaine was found in a car bearing diplomatic plates associated with the Holy See.
The car, which was stopped and searched in France, belonged to Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia, who had entrusted it to two Italian men. Aged 91, the cardinal retired in 2003 and holds the title of emeritus librarian at the Holy See. The two men, aged 30 and 41, had reportedly been told by his private secretary to take the car for a routine service.
Instead they promptly drove to Spain, where they allegedly bought the cocaine and from there drove into France. They reportedly believed that the car’s diplomatic status would place them above suspicion. But on Sunday they were stopped at a toll station near Chambery in the French Alps, en route back to Italy, where police found the cocaine hidden in suitcases and bags, along with seven ounces of cannabis.
They were arrested and will appear in front of a French magistrate on charges of drug trafficking. The Vatican confirmed the report, but said that as both men were Italian rather than citizens of the Vatican City State, it had nothing to do with the Holy See.
Cardinal Mejia is not well and obviously has nothing to do with this,” said Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. “It’s now up to the police to pursue their investigations.” Pope Francis has often warned of the dangers of taking drugs, most recently in June when he called addiction an “evil." He is firmly opposed to the legalisation of any drugs, despite moves in many countries in the West, including several states in the US, to allow the personal consumption of soft drugs such as marijuana.
“I would reaffirm what I have stated on another occasion: no to every type of drug use. It is as simple as that,” he told a drug enforcement conference in Rome. Drug trafficking “continues to spread inexorably,” he said, adding it was fuelled by “a deplorable commerce which transcends national borders.”
The Telegraph/September 16, 2014
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