“Good morning, dottore!” Sciacca called from the passenger seat of a small blue Volkswagen. Sciacca, the successor of Viganò, the central player in the leaks scandal, is a sprightly and gregarious Sicilian who walks around Rome doffing his hat to the waiters and storekeepers. He tends to stop walking when he has something to say, with the expectation that his audience will stop to listen.
Sciacca, who will play a principal role in organizing the papal transition, has a reputation for intelligence and honesty, but unlike his reform-minded predecessor, he is considered loyal to Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict’s No. 2. When asked for an interview as he window-shopped for vestments on Via dei Cestari, behind the Pantheon, he said he first needed to see the questions and get permission to talk. He shrugged off the suggestion that an official request should go through the Vatican press office.
He would need permission, he said, from Bertone.
As the Volkswagen rolled to his Vatican apartment, Sciacca claimed that he had overruled Bertone and his lieutenants in agreeing to an interview. “They told me not to talk to you!” he said, jokingly comparing himself to a “shepherd who invites in the wolf.”
The driver pulled up to Palazzo San Carlo, a centuries-old apartment building opposite the Vatican’s private gas station. Above the few steps, renovated with wheelchair access for the aged prelates, a polished gold plate held the names of the building’s residents. On a lower floor were offices belonging to one of the Vatican’s financial institutions. On the top floor lived one of the cardinals Gabriele had named as a sympathizer to his concerns about the Vatican.
Sciacca’s home is a spacious L-shaped apartment warmed by thousands of books broken into sections reflecting his years as a Latinist, high school teacher of literature and philosophy, canonist and judge on the church court. He pointed out a portrait of Benedict overlooking the hallway that he had commissioned.