How do you keep rising high in the Catholic Church after you get into a world of trouble? It helps to have a friend in the highest place. Here’s the latest from Buenos Aires:
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.
Yes. The pope spirited his friend Zanchetta out of Argentina and created a job for him in the Curia. But it wasn’t enough to keep the handsy scamp out of trouble with the law back home.