A public prosecutor's office said on Friday last week that Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta has been formally charged with sexually abusing seminarians. He is also being tried in a canonical trial at a Vatican tribunal.
Zanchetta, who is close to Pope Francis, stepped down as the bishop of Oran, Argentina in 2017 but was appointed to a role as an assessor for Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) in December 2017. Pope Francis has been questioned why Zanchetta was appointed to a post at the Vatican, when leaders already knew of the charges against him.
Pope Francis named Zanchetta to Oran in 2013. Zanchetta was reported to the Vatican as early as 2015 when inappropriate sexual photos were found on his phone. He was also suspected of sexually abusing seminarians. A rector and two former vicar generals signed a statement in 2016, outlining his problematic behaviour at the seminary. However, Pope Francis said in a recent interview with Mexican television that Zanchetta said he had been hacked when the photos were found and that he believed him.
Zanchetta declined to give a statement to police, but his identification documents were seized to prevent him from leaving the country.
“There is a sick system in the Church that covered up, or inhibited the abuses from coming to light and it ended up favouring the perpetrator,” said Bishop Sergio Buenanueva, coordinator of the Pastoral Council for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Argentine Bishops' Conference.