Catholic News Agency
10 June 2019
Pope Francis meets with Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta. Credit: Vatican Media.
.- Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta has been criminally charged with sexually assaulting two seminarians before a court in Argentina. The bishop has been barred from leaving the country and ordered to undergo a psychological examination.
The decision to charge Zanchetta was made June 6. The bishop arrived in Argentina earlier last week, having been in Rome and Spain. The court-ordered examination is expected to take place on Wednesday, June 12.
A Vatican trial of the allegations against Zanchetta is also underway.
Zanchetta, bishop emeritus of Orán, Argentina, was first accused of sexually inappropriate behavior in 2015. At that time, it was discovered that his cell phone contained various sexual images, including nude selfies. The bishop claimed his phone and computer had been hacked, and that the accusations were motivated by people who did not support Pope Francis.
Zanchetta and Pope Francis have been close for years, and one of the pope’s first acts in office was to appoint him as a bishop.
None of the alleged pornographic images on his phone are reported to be of minors.
Zanchetta stepped down from the diocese in August of 2017, ostensibly due to health issues. Four months later, he was appointed by Pope Francis as the Assessor to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, a position that Pope Francis created for Zanchetta.
The Vatican has stated twice that they did not know about Zanchetta’s misdeeds until 2018, a claim that is disputed by Fr. Juan José Manzano, the former vicar general of the Diocese of Orán. Manzano claims that he reported Zanchetta in 2015, after the pornographic images were found on his phone. Manzano says he also reported him again in 2017.
In 2016, a complaint was made against Zanchetta that accused him of “problematic behavior” with seminarians. This behavior included entering their rooms at night, requesting massages from them, waking up seminarians in the morning, sitting on their beds, and drinking alcohol with them.
That complaint stated that Zanchetta had an “obsessive omnipresence” in the seminary that made the seminarians very uncomfortable. Pope Francis has said that “there is no doubt that the clergy did not feel well treated by him.”
In May, the pope confirmed that a preliminary investigation into the bishop had concluded and the matter was proceeding to a canonical trial.
Francis said that the charges had been given over to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who will conduct the process. “They will make a trial, they will issue a sentence and I will promulgate it,” the pope stated.
If convicted by the civil court in Argentina, Zanchetta could face between three and 10 years in prison.
New documents challenge Vatican claims about accused Argentine bishop
Catholic News Agency
25 February 2019
.- An Argentine newspaper has published documents purporting to show that the Vatican knew about allegations of sexual abuse by Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta prior to his Dec. 2017 appointment to a Vatican office, a charge that the Vatican has repeatedly denied.
Zanchetta, 54, had resigned as Bishop of Orán in Aug. 2017, and was appointed four months later by Pope Francis to a newly-created position in the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which oversees the Vatican’s assets and real estate holdings.
Documents published Feb. 21 by The Tribune, a newspaper in the Salta region of Argentina, purport to show that the Vatican received a complaint about Zanchetta in 2015 and that Pope Francis had spoken to Zanchetta after the complaint was filed. The documents also claim that Zanchetta failed to register and report the sale of two church properties worth millions of dollars.
The documents seem to confirm earlier reporting by the Associated Press. Zanchetta also faces a judicial complaint of sexual abuse in Argentina that was recently made public.
Fr. Juan Jose Manzano, Zanchetta’s former vicar general in the diocese of Orán, told the Associated Press that the Vatican received complaints against Zanchetta in both 2015 and 2017, but that the 2015 complaint against Zanchetta was not issued as an official canonical complaint.
According to The Tribune’s report, one of the Zanchetta’s secretaries alerted authorities after accidentally finding sexually explicit images sent and received on Zanchetta’s cell phone. The complaint says that some of the images depict “young people” having sex in addition to lewd images of Zanchetta.
The report says three of Zanchetta’s vicars general and two monsignors made a formal internal complaint before the Argentinian nunciature in 2016, alleging inappropriate behavior with seminarians, such as encouraging them to drink alcohol and favoring more the more “graceful” (attractive) among them.
Pope Francis summoned Zanchetta to Rome for five days in October 2015. The pope appeared to have accepted Zanchetta’s excuse that his cell phone had been hacked, and dismissed the allegations.
The 2017 internal accusation, which The Tribune says alleged more explicit abuse by Zanchetta of seminarians, resulted in Zanchetta’s exit from the diocese, though Zanchetta said he was resigning for health reasons. The Vatican did not open an investigation at that time.
Manzano said part of the reason the allegations against Zanchetta may have not been taken seriously by the Vatican was because of the bishop’s close relationship with Pope Francis, who appointed him bishop of Orán in 2013. Still, Manzano said he didn’t believe the Vatican meant to lie or hide anything about Zanchetta. He said he believed Francis and other Vatican officials had also been victims of the bishop’s “manipulation.”
The current Bishop of Orán is in the process of collecting testimonies regarding allegations against Zanchetta, which will be sent to the Congregation for Bishops. Zanchetta is on a leave of absence while the investigation takes place.
Vatican Press Office spokesman Alessandro Gisotti in January “resolutely” repeated a Vatican statement that said no sexual abuse charges had yet emerged against the bishop at the time Pope Francis appointed Zanchetta his position at the APSA. Gisotti said the charges only emerged in the fall of 2018.
When asked at a Feb. 24 press conference about Zachetta’s case, Gisotti reiterated that an investigation was ongoing.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the Vatican’s sexual abuse prosecutor and adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told reporters that he did not know any specifics about Zanchetta case, but that “if someone is investigating a case, that’s not covering it up.”
Argentine bishop and friend of Pope Francis charged with sex abuse of seminarians
Mon Jun 10, 2019 – 5:19 pm EST
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, June 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, one of Pope Francis’ first episcopal appointments, has been formally charged with alleged sexual abuse of two seminarians in the Diocese of Oran in northern Argentina.
According to the prosecutor’s office in Oran, Zanchetta was charged with “aggravated continuous sexual abuse committed by a minister of a religious organization.” He has been forbidden to have contact with the seminarians in question or their family members.
In 2015, Zanchetta was accused of engaging in “strange behavior” when a diocesan official discovered pornographic images on the archbishop’s cellphone. Pornographic images of men were found, allegedly sent to unknown parties, as well as Zanchetta’s nude selfies. Reportedly, there were no images of children found.
Vatican authorities have twice stated that they had no knowledge of Zanchetta’s alleged crimes until 2018. However, Fr. Juan José Manzano (the former vicar general of Oran) disagrees, saying he reported the pornographic images in 2015 and again in 2017.
A complaint was raised against Zanchetta in 2016, accusing the archbishop of “problematic behavior” with seminarians. He is alleged to have entered their bedrooms at night and requested massages. Also, he is alleged to have offered alcohol to the seminarians. Internal church documents suggest that Pope Francis knew of accusations against Zanchetta before transferring him to Rome.
In 2017, Zanchetta unexpectedly resigned his see without explanation. However, Pope Francis, a fellow Argentine, gave him a job created for him at the Vatican’s Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA). The latter oversees the financial holdings of the Vatican and serves as a central bank.
Prosecutor Monica Viazzi’s office said Zanchetta was silent during his court appearance on Thursday. Zanchetta’s passport has been confiscated and he is prohibited from leaving Argentina. Also, he has been ordered to obtain a permanent address in the country and attend all future hearings in his case.
On June 12, Zanchetta will be subjected to psychological evaluation as part of the official investigation. He will be jailed if he violates any of these demands. If convicted, Zanchetta could face two or three years in prison.
Oran is a city of about 82,000 in the province of Salta, near Argentina’s border with Bolivia.
Pope Francis recently revealed to a Mexican journalist that Zanchetta is facing a simultaneous canonical trial at the Vatican. “Before I asked for his resignation, there was an accusation, and I immediately made him come over with the person who accused him and explain it,” Pope Francis told Valentina Alazraki.
Zanchetta claimed that his cellphone had been hacked, the Pope said.
“Evidently he had, some say,” Pope Francis said, “despotic treatment of others – he was bossy.”
The Pope said he understood that Zanchetta was “not completely clear in dealing with finances” that have yet to be proved. “But certainly, the clergy didn’t feel well treated by him,” the Pope said. “They complained until they made an allegation as a body to” the Vatican’s embassy in Argentina.
After hearing from the papal diplomatic representative in Argentina that there were “serious” allegations of mistreatment of seminarians in addition to an “abuse of power,” the Pope sent Zanchetta for psychological treatment in Spain while asking for his resignation from his see. As for any allegations of misusing Church money, the Pope denied that there was any substantial evidence.
While Zanchetta was not orderly in handling money, the Pope said, Zanchetta had a “good vision.” Having decided that Zanchetta should be tried in a canonical court, the Pope turned the case over to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Should Zanchetta be found guilty of the abuse of minors or vulnerable adults, he may face laicization.
Pope Francis says Argentine bishop will go to trial for sexual misconduct
Catholic News Agency
28 May 2019
.- Pope Francis has said a preliminary investigation against Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta has concluded and will now proceed to trial.
Zanchetta, Bishop Emeritus of Orán, had been under Vatican investigation for sexual abuse of seminarians and other sexual misconduct.
Pope Francis said in an interview with Valentina Alazraki published May 28 at Vatican News that he read the results of the investigation earlier this month and “saw that a trial was necessary.”
He said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will conduct the process. “They will make a trial, they will issue a sentence and I will promulgate it,” the pope stated.
After resigning as Bishop of Orán in August 2017, Zanchetta was appointed by Pope Francis in December 2017 to a position created for him within the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, which oversees the Vatican’s assets and real estate holdings.
The bishop is on a leave of absence from APSA while under investigation.
The Vatican has twice insisted it knew nothing about abuse reports against Zanchetta until the fall of 2018, though media investigations suggest that Pope Francis knew about the allegations in 2015, two years before he gave Zanchetta a Vatican job.
In the May 28 interview, Pope Francis also said he knew nothing about accusations of sexual abuse by Theodore McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Washington, prior to thoese accusations becoming public in 2018.
Zanchetta was reported to the Vatican in 2015 and 2017 when he was discovered in lewd sexual photographs on his cellphone, and suspected of sexual abusing of seminarians.
In the interview, Pope Francis confirmed that there had been an accusation against Zanchetta and said that he “immediately” brought him to the Vatican to discuss it, confirming documents published Feb. 21 by The Tribune, a newspaper in the Salta region of Argentina. The documents confirmed earlier reporting by the Associated Press.
The pope says in that meeting, Zanchetta “defended himself by saying that they had hacked him, and he defended himself well.” He added that the evidence left a doubt, so “in dubio pro reo.”
Francis acknowledged Zanchetta had been, according to some, “despotic, authoritarian,” and had some unclear economic management.
According to Pope Francis, Zanchetta did not in fact “mishandle” things economically, though it was “disorganized.”
“There is no doubt that the clergy did not feel well treated by him” when he was Bishop of Orán, he stated. Francis explained that after receiving complaints about mistreatment by Zanchetta from some clergy, communicated through the nuncio, he asked for Zanchetta’s resignation as Bishop of Orán.
According to The Tribune, three of Zanchetta’s vicars general and two monsignors made a formal internal complaint before the Argentine nunciature in 2016, alleging inappropriate behavior with seminarians, such as encouraging them to drink alcohol and favoring the more “graceful” (attractive) among them.
When Zanchetta resigned in 2017 he claimed it was for health reasons. The Vatican did not open an investigation at that time.
Pope Francis said he sent the Argentine prelate to Spain for a psychiatric test, not “a holiday in Spain” as he said some media reported, and “the test result was normal, they recommended a therapy once a month.” This is why, the pope stated, he did not go back to Argentina — because he had to go to Madrid for two days of therapy every month.
The pope said he shared all of this background information to answer the “impatient people” who say that “they did nothing.”
“The Pope should not publish what he is doing every day, but from the first moment of this case, I did not stand by and watch,” he defended.
To the journalist’s statement that “I think it was important to tell all this, don’t you think?” he said: “I told it now. But I can’t do it every moment, but I never stopped.”