Another Pope Francis Aide Under Investigation for Sex Abuse

Pope Francis aide under criminal investigation for sex abuse

Another Pope Francis aide is under criminal investigation for the sexual abuse of young priests and seminarians.

The Pope’s Protegé, Gustavo Óscar Zanchetta, suddenly resigned as bishop of Orán in Argentina last July 2017, allegedly due to “health reasons.” Francis, when presented with his resignation, immediately granted it within three days.

But now that Zanchetta is safely back behind the walls of the Vatican City, enjoying diplomatic immunity, he stands accused of harassing young seminarians.

CNA reports:  Alessandro Gisotti, interim Holy See press officer, said Jan. 4 that “at the time of his resignation there had been against [Bishop Zanchetta] accusations of authoritarianism, but there had been against him no accusation of sexual abuse … the accusations of sexual abuse date to this autumn.”

Bishop Zanchetta, 54, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Quilmes in 1991. He remained there until his 2013 appointment by Pope Francis as Bishop of Orán.

Gisotti noted that the bishop was not removed from Orán, but that he himself chose to resign, saying the decision was “linked to his difficulty in managing relations with the diocesan clergy and in very tense relations with the priests of the diocese,” and that he had “an incapacity to govern the clergy.”

In announcing his resignation, Bishop Zanchetta had cited “a problem of health”.

Between his resignation and his appointment to APSA nearly four months later, Bishop Zanchetta spent some time in Spain, Gisotti reported.

“After the period in Spain, in consideration of his capacity for administrative management, he was nominated as assessor of APSA.”

APSA manages the Holy See’s assets and real estate holdings.

Gisotti also noted that when the bishop was appointed to APSA, the accusations of sexual abuse had not yet come to light.

“On the basis of these accusations and of the news which recently emerged in the media, the Bishop of  Orán has already collected some testimonies, which have yet to arrive to the Congregation for Bishops. If the elements needed to proceed are confirmed, the case will be referred to the special commission for bishops.”

The accusations of abuse against the bishop have apparently been levied by priests and seminarians.

While the investigation is ongoing, Gisotti stated, Bishop Zanchetta will not be working in his capacity as assessor.