Five weeks ago, I blogged about an encrypted diary kept by a French pedophile priest. Tony Gaffney has now broken the cipher. I hope, my readers can help to decrypt the two diary pages that are publicly available.

On January 21, I published a blog post about an encrypted diary written by a French priest who was accused of pedophile offenses (this diary is now number 00095 on my encrypted book list). The source for this story are a number of articles published in the French press. In addition, there is a website made by the victims of the priest: http://notreparoleaussiliberee.org.

The cryptogram

Acccording to the articles mentioned above, there are at least four volumes of the diary. The only scan I could find shows a passage from the 1990s contained in volume 4, which fills over 300 pages.

Apparently, the plaintext of this diary excerpt has never been published. Blog reader Simon wrote:

I did a quick google search but could not find more pages of the diary. Some articles in French written in 2016 say that the diary was found and confiscated during a search, but never decrypted by the police. Later, victims of the priest got the diary and tried to decrypt it before the end of the trial, hoping to find evidence against the priest and proof that the priest has been protected by the church (doesn’t look like they succeeded). In custody, the priest accepted to decode a page of his diary, but there was nothing too personal in it; mostly details about his schedule and people he met.

[…]

The persons molested by the priest […] complained they were left alone in decrypting the diary.

Blog reader Steve found some more information about the diary and the encryption method the priest used. His comment is available here.

 

Tony Gaffney’s solution

Last Friday, I received a mail from Tony Gaffney, who is known to readers of this blog as a world-class codebreaker. Tony wrote: “After many struggles I’ve just solved the priest cipher.” It goes without saying that I was quite thrilled about this news.

Tony provided me the following key (eddited to add: this is a new version Tony provided on March 1):

As can be seen, the priest used a homophonic cipher. Such a system is usually quite difficult to break.

In addition to the key, Tony sent me the following plaintext draft:

I took these two sheets to my friend Christel Nana, who is a native French speaker. With her help, I could retrieve the following partial decryption of the first sheet:

Laume dans sa chambre qu’il a fait rangé pour ma venue. Quel charmant garçon. Je suis heureux en sa presence. David est bien agreable. Puis il se fairent chez soi. Je ???? tombe en arret devant mon sincolnet se esraie tandis que je demonte un microsec Chicago vous soires maintenant habitues jeunesse autre. Je prend se soir même que se  ?????

Nicolas a tout de suite été interessé par sa proposition que je suis faite de tondre ses pelouses pour faire d’argent de poche.

Ma relation aux autres s’ameliore considerablement. Je les porte dans mon coeur. Chaque entrevue peut devenir vraiement agreable.

Je conduis mon bus à Orleans pour le preter Andre Martin pour ? jours. Mais avant contrôle technique car il ya ? ans et j’achète deux tubes d’acier pour faire un ?

Debut de sa deuxieme redaction qui mi quel

Here’s a translation attempt:

? in his room, which he had cleaned up before I came. What a nice boy! I am happy in his presence. David is very enjoyable. […]

Nicolas was immediately interested in his suggestion to mow the lawn in order to earn a little pocket money.

My relationship to the others has improved considerably. I carry them in my heart. Every meeting can get really enjoyable.

I drive my bus to Orleans in order to lend it to Andre Martin for ? days. However, I will check the mechanics first, because it is already ? years old. I have bought two tubes to ????

Based on this work, Tony refined the substitution table and developed the following decryption of the second sheet (the translation is given below each line):

Debut de sa deuxieme redaction qui mi que liges a revoir se planet se enchainement desiders.
Opening of his second writing which I whom vassal ? see again his planet linked ???????.

Chicago veint chercher sa table de eclairage pour sa soirer qui vut tres reusrie – dit ?il – je suis heureux?
Chicago ????? searching his table of lighting for his evening which was very successful – said ??? – I am happy

Je sui preter ce materiel.
I will favour this material.

Depart pour pel revois inpres de chateau roux en voiture ou je rejoins sa province en pel ?inage.
Leave for pel see again ?????? the chateau red faith kill or I join his province in Pel ??????.

Finalement je vais toute sa marche avec a troupe ? e emung sur soire mais il civa trop de trajet pour
Finally I am going all the way with his troop ? Meung on this evening know he going too much travel for

mediter – ce rest souvent sa meme erreur et je suis furieux.
meditation – this rest often the same mistake and I am furious.

Qui lraume pasreet vous regardons se projet de fixation de son antenre demi y onde.
Who ?????? ??????? you look at the project of fixing of his aerial half ?  water/wave.

Je sis trapre un bon coup de soleil sur sa tete en instalrant ses antenre ? heir avec qui lraume qui est vraiment genial.
I have a ?????? a good stroke of sunburn on my head by installing his aerial ???? with his ?????? who is truly inspiring.

Ses jeunes se metrent a tondre ses pelouses – a des herber – a traiter – qui lraume     
His young people are ???? ????? mowing his lawns – been lying on the grass – a treat – which ??????

 

Your help is needed

Once again, I am deeply impressed by Tony’s codebreaking skills. Deciphering a message encrypted in a homophonic cipher without even knowing the plaintext language is a phantastic achievement. I congratulate Tony on this great success. I am proud that my blog served as a platform for such an outstanding decipherment.

However, the deciphering of the diary page is not yet complete. As you see, some parts of the plaintext still look strange or are missing. I hope that my readers (especially the ones who speak French) can help to fill these gaps. So, if you see potential improvements in the deciphering, please leave a comment.


Further reading: Has a broken code now solved one of the most spectacular crimes of the 20th century?

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Kommentare (16)

  1. #1 Dampier
    27. Februar 2019

    Great Job! I hope it helps the victims somehow …

  2. #2 Klaus Schmeh
    28. Februar 2019

    Wolfgang Wilhelm via Facebook:
    Vielleicht ist das auch interessant für die Opfer zu wissen, was in diesem Mann so vor sich ging.

  3. #3 Thomas
    28. Februar 2019

    What an achievement! Congratulations to Tony!

  4. #4 Simon
    28. Februar 2019

    Congratulations for the excellent decoding job.

    Just a little suggestion. The symbol that looks like an “8” or like an X between two horizontal lines, doubles the letter before it (is not always an “R”).
    The plaintext makes more sense with this change:
    – Je esRaie -> je essaie
    – Je apRrends -> je apprends
    – vous somRes maintenant -> nous sommes maintenant
    – ete interesRe par -> été interessé par
    etc.

  5. #5 Thomas
    28. Februar 2019

    I can only make a few suggestions concerning the 2nd sheet, there is a lot of interpretation. The name is Guillaume, “laume” at the beginning of the 1st sheet should be the rest of “Guillaume”. Pellevoisin is located near Chateauroux and visited by pilgrims.

    “Début de la deuxieme rédaction qui me … revoir le planet d’enchaînement des idėes.
    Chicago vient chercher sa table d’ éclairage pour la soirée qui fut très … – dit il – je suis heureux.
    Je puis prêter ce matériel.
    Dėpart pour Pellevoisin près de Chateauroux en voiture ou je réjoins la Province en pèlerinage.
    Finalement je vais toute la marche avec la troupe a Meung-sur-Loire, mais il y’a trop de trajet pour méditer.
    C’est souvent la meme erreur et je suis furieux.
    Guillaume … vous regardons le projet de fixation de son antenne demimonde.
    J’ai trappé un bon coup de soleil sur la tête en installant l’antenne hier avec Guillaume qui est vraiment génial.
    Les jeunes se mettent a tondre les pelouses …”

  6. #6 Tony
    28. Februar 2019

    Simon – thank you – I was wondering why it had no double letters! I’ve been struggling with exactly those words you list!!

  7. #7 Simon
    1. März 2019

    One of the symbols listed as “E” in the translation (the one that looks a bit like an Y), is actually an apostrophe. The character often before it (that looks like a small “e”) is maybe an “L”.
    With this change, the plaintext is more readable, for example:

    – Nous sommes maintenant habitués l’un à l’autre
    – pour se faire de l’argent de poche

  8. #8 Tony
    1. März 2019

    Thomas – that makes things a lot clearer – thanks very much.

  9. #9 Tony
    1. März 2019

    Simon – thanks again – the small e is an L and not an S as listed – I’m just correcting them all on my sheet and it makes perfect sense that the Y like symbol as you point out is going to be an apostrophe.

    Try not to find too many more mistakes I made!

  10. #10 Thomas
    1. März 2019

    corrections in #5:
    “avec la troupe de Meung-sur-Loire”
    “Guillaume passe et nous regardons le projet de fixation de son antenne demi-monde.”

  11. #11 Thomas
    1. März 2019

    Sheet 1, line 3, 4, maybe?: (line 5 still totally unclear)

    “.ennesie(?) tombé en arrêt devant mon Lincoln (a car?) et j’essaie tandis que je demonte un microsec. Chicago – Nous sommes maintenant habitués l’un à l’autre.”

  12. #12 Simon
    1. März 2019

    @Thomas
    I almost came to the same conclusion about that line: “(T?)ennessie tombe en arret devant mon Lincoln et j’essaie tandis que je demonte un micro avec Chicago.”
    Tennessee is also a dog breed and “tombe en arret” is an expression also used when talking about dogs so maybe he is talking about a dog? Or these are code names for people.
    Not sure if “micro” makes more sense than “microsec”; could be short for “je demonte un four a micro-ondes”?
    Native french speakers will be able to help here.

    A rough idea about last two lines of the first paragraph:
    “apprends le soir meme que j’ai (nee???) ?? ???? de a?cheter le meme ?? que le mien”

  13. #13 Rossignol
    Paris, France
    1. März 2019

    Congratulations Tony for this impressive decryption.

    I can read :

    sheet #1

    [… Guil]laume dans sa chambre qu’il avait rangée pour ma venue
    Quel charmant garçon. Je suis heureux en sa présence. David est bien agréable.
    Puis ils vinrent chez moi. Tennessie tombe en arrêt devant mon Lincoln et
    l’essaie tandis que je démonte un micro avec Chicago.

    From the context, Lincoln is probably the President(R) Lincoln CB radio, a
    popular model at the time.

    Tennessie and Chicago may be radio ham nicknames ?

    sheet #2

    Revoir le plan et l’enchainement des idées.
    Chicago vient chercher ma table d’éclairage pour sa soirée qui fut très réussie
    dit-il. Je suis heureux de lui prêter ce matériel.
    Départ pour Pellevoisin près de Châteauroux en voiture où je rejoins ma province
    en pèlerinage

    (Pellevoisin is a small town near Châteauroux)

    Guillaume passe et nous regardons le projet de fixation de son antenne demi-onde.
    J’ai attrapé un bon coup de soleil sur la tête en installant l’antenne hier avec
    Guillaume qui est vraiment génial.
    Les jeunes se mettent à tondre les pelouses, à désherber, à traiter.

    (antenne demi-onde = half wave antenna in radio parlance)

  14. #14 Tony
    1. März 2019

    Rossignol – Thank you very much – the following is what I now have on my sheet literally letter for letter– perhaps you can make sense of the last line of the first paragraph?

    I will send Klaus an updated key as well.

    … Guillaume dans sa chambre – qu’il a fait rangé pour ma venue – quel charmand garçon – je suis heureux en sa presence – David est bien agreable –
    puis ils viennent chez soi – Tennessie tombe en arret devant mon Lincoln et l’essaie tandis que je demonte un microsec c Chicago –
    nous sommes maintenant habitués l’un a l’autre j’apprends le soir meme gue l’apnee le bacide a achet tre le meme t? que le mien.

    Nicolas a tout de suite ete interesse par la proposition que je luis i faite de tondre les pelouses pour se faire de l’argent de poche.

    Ma relations aux autres s’ameliore considerablement – je les porte dans mon coeur – chaque entre vue peut devenir vraiment agreable.

    Je conduis mon bus a Orleans pour le preter aandre Martin pour (unknown number) jours – mais avant – controle technique car il a 10 ans et j’achete deux tubes d’acier pour faire un matout?

    Debut de la deuxieme redaction qui Miguel iges revoir le planet l’enchainement des idees.

    Chicago vient chercher sa table d’eclairage pour sa soiree qui fut tres reussie – dit y il – je suis heureux je lui preter ce materiel.

    Depart pour Pellevoisin pres de Chateauroux en voiture ou je rejoins la province en pelerinage.

    Finalement je vais toute la marche avec la troupe (unknown number) Meung-sur-Loire mais il ci a trop de trajet pour mediter – c’est souvent la meme erreur et je suis furieux.

    Guillaume passé et nous regardons le projet de fixation de son antenne demi y onde.

    J’ai a trappe un bon coup de soleil sur la tete en installant l’antenne hier avec Guillaume qui est vraiment genial

    Les jeunes se mettent a tondre les pelouses – a des herber – a traiter – Guillaume

  15. #15 Rossignol
    Paris, France
    1. März 2019

    @Tony

    The best solution I find for the last sentence of the first paragraph is:

    J’apprends le soir même que l’aînée se décide à acheter le même Tx que le mien.

    [I learn the same evening that the eldest decides to buy the same Tx as mine]

    Tx = radio transmitter in CIBistes jargon.

  16. #16 Klaus Schmeh
    3. März 2019

    @Riny, Rossignol, Simon, Thomas: Thank you very much for your contributions!!
    To my regret, I haven’t received a reply from the victims group yet.