Despite Pope Francis' recent attempts - mostly for media and public consumption, if not so much in actuality - to clear out decades of corruption at the Vatican including shady financial backroom dealings, involving countless global banks, some very odd things continue floating up to the surface. Like condoms filled with cocaine.
German customs officials intercepted a shipment of cocaine destined for the Vatican in January, weekly Bild am Sonntag reported Sunday.
Officers at Leipzig airport found 340 grams (12 ounces) of the drug packed into 14 condoms inside a shipment of cushions coming from South America, the paper, reported citing a German customs report. It said the package was simply addressed to the Vatican postal office, meaning any of the Catholic mini-state's 800 residents could have picked it up.
Not surprisingly, nobody at the Vatican stepped up to claim the 14 condoms - ignoring their contents, the Catholic Church is not exactly known to have a favorable opinion of prophylatics. In this case obviously double so, especially since the intended recipient was tipped off about a makeshift sting operation.
The paper reported that a subsequent sting operation arranged with Vatican police failed to nab the intended recipient. No one claimed the package, indicating that he or she was tipped off about the plan. The drugs would have a street value of several tens of thousands of euros.
A spokesman for the German Finance Ministry, which oversees the customs office, confirmed the report. Prosecutors in Leipzig planned to issue a statement Monday providing further details, Martin Chaudhuri told The Associated Press.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi confirmed that the Vatican police had cooperated with German police in an attempt to identify the traffickers. He said the investigation remained open.
The open question: was the cocaine sent for cardinal consumption, or even worse, for reselling purposes. Sure, the Vatican's finances are hardly as strong as they were when the Vatican Bank was humming along but who knew things were so bad to essentially make the Vatican a Breaking Bad spin off?