Pope Francis Can’t Explain These “Hugs And Massages”

Though Pope Francis has faced questions for his handling of clerical sexual abuse, few cases touch the pontiff quite as directly as that of Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta. File photo: Agência Brasil, CC BY 3.0 BR

“If he’s a perv, he doesn’t belong … “

Inés San Martín, Mar 13, 2019

| CruxNow, Rome – Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta was brought to Rome at the pope’s personal initiative. He now stands accused of abuse.

Appointed by Francis to the northern Argentine diocese of Oran, when the bishop resigned at the age of 53 in 2017 he said the move was for “health reasons.”

A few months later, Francis named him to the office which administers the Vatican’s financial portfolio.

Last year, it became public that Zanchetta has been accused both of sexual misconduct and of financial wrongdoing.

“He’s simply a ‘perv.'”

Clearly, the pope hasn’t yet thrown in the towel on Zanchetta; the Catholic Herald reported Monday that the bishop is taking part this week in a spiritual retreat for members of the Roman Curia along with Francis and senior Vatican officials.

Another Argentine, Archbishop Carlos Alberto Sanchez of Tucuman, has been tapped with carrying out an inquiry into the Zanchetta case, and much is riding on the results.

One key issue for Sanchez, as well as for the civil justice system in Argentina, is whether Zanchetta has committed a crime under either ecclesiastical or civil law – or whether, in the words of one senior Vatican official, he’s simply a “perv.

Argentine Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta. Screenshot: msn.com, Noticias Argentinas

“If he’s a perv, he doesn’t belong in the priesthood, and maybe should even be hospitalized. But only time will tell if he belongs in jail,” the source said.

Naked selfies, “obscene” behavior 

Problems with the bishop include a series of pictures discovered to be in Zanchetta’s possession of an explicitly sexual tenor, such as Zanchetta naked and touching himself and of young men having sex.

Those pictures were discovered by accident by the secretary of the diocese, a layman.

The bishop has also been accused of improper behavior with seminarians. Documents allege that Zanchetta paid nighttime visits to the seminary, where he would observe students with a lantern, sit in their beds early in the morning and have them give him hugs and massages. Read more.

BACKGROUND: Vatican knew of Argentine bishop misconduct

ORAN, Argentina – The Vatican received information in 2015 and 2017 that an Argentine bishop close to Pope Francis had taken naked selfies, exhibited “obscene” behaviour and had been accused of misconduct with seminarians, his former vicar general told The Associated Press, undermining Vatican claims that allegations of sexual abuse were only made a few months ago.

Francis accepted Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta’s resignation in August 2017, after priests in the remote northern Argentine diocese of Oran complained about his authoritarian rule and a former vicar, seminary rector and another prelate provided reports to the Vatican alleging abuses of power, inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment of adult seminarians, said the former vicar, the Rev. Juan Jose Manzano.

The scandal over Zanchetta, 54, is the latest to implicate Francis as he and the Catholic hierarchy as a whole face an unprecedented crisis of confidence over their mishandling of cases of clergy sexual abuse of minors and misconduct with adults …

The pope’s decision to allow Zanchetta to resign quietly, and then promote him to the No. 2 position in one of the Vatican’s most sensitive offices, has raised questions again about whether Francis turned a blind eye to misconduct of his allies and dismissed allegations against them as ideological attacks.

Manzano, Oran’s vicar general under Zanchetta who is now a parish priest, said he was one of the diocesan officials who raised the alarm about his boss in 2015 and sent the digital selfies to the Vatican.

In an interview with AP in the pews of his St. Cayetano parish in Oran, Manzano said he was one of the three current and former diocesan officials who made a second complaint to the Vatican’s embassy in Buenos Aires in May or June of 2017 “when the situation was much more serious, not just because there had been a question about sexual abuses, but because the diocese was increasingly heading into the abyss.” Read more.

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