Notorious murderer Pietro Maso has revealed to the press his communication with Francis

The Pietro Maso murder case remains one of the most haunting and horrific that Italy has ever experienced. Pietro Maso murdered his parents in 1991. I was living in Italy at the time, and the news of the murder, and subsequent coverage of the trial, was hard to avoid. There is a full account of the case here, in Italian, which is well worth reading.

Why did the case command such attention? There were many reasons. For a start, Maso was a young and handsome 19-year-old, whose demeanour in court showed a chilling lack of remorse; indeed, he seemed very pleased with himself. Then there were the accomplices: Maso had persuaded three of his friends to help him murder his parents, and they allowed themselves to be persuaded, which seemed to suggest that Maso’s powers of influence were considerable.

The murder itself and its coldly premeditated nature – there were two previous plots that were abandoned – was frightful. Antonio and Maria Rosa Maso did not have easy deaths, but were beaten with blunt instruments and then suffocated, over a period of 50 minutes. But most horrible of all was the motivation to which Maso eventually confessed. He wanted his parents’ money, so he could spend it in expensive restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The murder was meant to look as if a robbery had taken place, but this fooled no one. Maso got 22 years, some of it in an open prison, which seems a light sentence for a double murder. Gruesomely, he became a celebrity in prison, and was overwhelmed with fan mail.

Now he has had a call from the Pope. Here we need to exercise some caution. Maso has given an interview to Chi, an Italian celebrity magazine, as the Catholic Herald reports. In it he recounts the way that some two years ago his spiritual director passed on a letter he had written to the Pope, and the Pope later phoned him, some time in 2013. Maso’s letter was one asking for forgiveness, or so he says. As for the content of the phone call, Maso says: “Ero il male ma lui ha avuto compassione di me” (I was the Evil One, but the Pope had pity on me.) 

However, this is not the first time that Maso has done this sort of thing. In 1996 Maso wrote to the Bishop of Vicenza, who had presided at his parents’ funeral (they were devout Catholics), expressing his remorse, and the bishop visited Maso in prison.

Many psychologists have mulled over the Maso case, and the general verdict seems to be that he is a narcissist, a conclusion I find it hard to doubt. Why does Maso have to give an interview to a celebrity magazine now? Why does he have to publicise this telephone call from the Pope? Why does he have to “ask forgiveness” from first the Bishop of Vicenza, then the Pope himself? After all, neither Bishop nor Pope are the injured parties here. Aren’t there more private and effective ways of expressing remorse?

It seems to me regrettable that the Pope’s phone call has been made use of in this way. As for Antonio and Maria Rosa Maso, unjustly deprived of life, may they rest in peace; and may God comfort their two daughters, unjustly deprived of their parents. Antonio and Maria Rosa were an exemplary couple, and their memory deserves our attention. As for their son, it would be better if he lived out the rest of his days in obscurity.