Christopher Altieri Catholic Herald
June 14, 2020 at 11:04 am
Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta – currently facing trial both in his native Argentina and in the Vatican after allegations of sexually abusive behaviour toward his own seminarians – has returned to work in the Vatican’s powerful and troubled Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See – APSA – the Vatican’s central bank.
Crux reported the news Saturday evening, quoting Vatican press office director Matteo Bruni, who told Crux: “[W]hile naturally remaining available to the Argentine judicial authorities, [Bishop] Zanchetta was able to resume his service which does not interfere in any way with the investigations.”
The Catholic Herald independently confirmed the news with Bruni in a brief exchange on Saturday evening, and again after reaching Bruni by phone on Sunday morning. Bruni had nothing to say about the status of Bishop Zanchetta’s canonical process, but Pope Francis had the results of the preliminary investigation no later than May of last year.
“Something like fifteen days ago the preliminary investigation came to me,” Pope Francis told Noticieros Televisa in an interview broadcast 28 May 2019. “I read it, and I saw that it was necessary to make a judgment. Then I passed it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, [and] they are making the judgment.” At that point, the Vatican and Pope Francis had been aware of the complaints against Zanchetta for years.
The Vatican suspended Bishop Zanchetta in January of last year, after reports surfaced of ambiguous conduct with seminarians and irregular financial management. Shortly thereafter, Zanchetta was with other high curial officials on retreat with Pope Francis, despite his suspension.
Argentinian authorities eventually decided to indict Zanchetta and try him on charges of “aggravated continuous sexual abuse” allegedly committed against two former seminarians. Zanchetta denies the charges. he has entered a plea of Not Guilty and is currently standing trial in Argentina.
In November of last year, Crux cited Vatican sources as saying that the investigation in Rome was nearing completion, and that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – to which Francis entrusted the matter – was waiting for the court proceedings in Argentina to conclude.
This is not the first time Bishop Zanchetta’s employment status has been the subject of scrutiny.
Over the summer of last year, Bishop Zanchetta produced a certificate for the court in Argentina, which came from the sostituto of the Secretariat of State – roughly, the pope’s chief of staff – Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra. The certificate said Zanchetta was needed in the Vatican to “continue with his daily work” even though he was supposedly suspended from his tailor-made position as “assessor” to the APSA.
When news broke – in June, 2019 – of the leave granted Bishop Zanchetta for “work-related” travel, the Catholic Herald asked the press office for clarification of his status, but received no reply. In September 2019, after the note from Archbishop Pena emerged, press office director Bruni told the Herald: “[T]he situation concerning [Bishop] Zanchetta’s working activity has not changed since 4th January ,” which was when the Holy See confirmed Zanchetta’s suspension, pending investigation.
On Sunday morning, Bruni had nothing further to tell the Herald, beyond his confirmation of the statement he gave to Crux.
7 months ago Crux Now
Argentine officials request arrest of bishop suspended from Vatican job
An Argentine prosecutor has requested international assistance in the arrest of Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, the currently suspended “assessor” at the Vatican’s de-facto central bank.
Zanchetta is facing charges of defrauding the state and “aggravated continuous sexual abuse,” with two former seminarians having filed a criminal complaint against him.
According to La Nueva Mañana, prosecutor María Soledad Filtrín Cuezzo made the request after Zanchetta failed to respond to numerous telephone calls and email inquiries she made to the Argentine official after he was allowed to return to Vatican City. In August, he was required to provide contact numbers and email addresses to Argentine authorities so he could be updated on the status of his case.
Zanchetta served as Bishop of Oran from 2013-2017, when he resigned, allegedly for health reasons.
After spending some time in Spain, where he allegedly received psychological treatment, he was appointed by Francis to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which functions as the Vatican’s central bank, where he worked in the newly created and ill-defined position of “assessor.”
However, in Argentina, over 20 seminarians complained about alleged sexual and other misconduct by the bishop, including paying visits to the seminary late at night, sitting on the beds of seminarians and giving them alcohol.
He was also accused of defrauding the local government of nearly $250,000, as well as other financial misconduct.
On January 4, the Vatican acknowledged the bishop was under investigation and suspended him from his role.
On August 8, the bishop presented himself in the Argentine court to be formally informed of the charges against him. After giving the court a Vatican-issued certificate signed by Venezuelan Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the Substitute at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, the court allowed him to return to the Vatican.
The certificate didn’t officially summon him back to Rome, but stated that he does in fact, work in APSA and that he lives in the Casa Santa Marta, the hotel within Vatican grounds where Francis has lived since the beginning of his pontificate.
Earlier this month, the offices of the Diocese of Oran were raided in connection to the case, and prosecutors sought to lift the deal allowing Zanchetta to leave the country.
On Nov. 12, Filtrín Cuezzo was notified that the court was constituted to try the bishop on the charge of sexual abuse, aggravated by the fact it was carried out by a minister of religion.
According to the complaint made by the two seminarians, the abuse occurred at the John XXIII seminary in Oran and in a private house in the town of Los Toldos in Salta province.
When the prosecutor requested this summer that Zanchetta face trial, she included the findings of a psychological evaluation conducted on the bishop.
La Nueva Mañana reports that among other aspects, the psychiatric report states that Zanchetta “presents a personality with psychopathic traits (indicators of manipulation, superficial emotions, poor empathetic ability); he does not have psychosis, or another mental disorder that alters the relationship with reality. It is linked through disparate interrelationships, exercising power over others, and can include the conduct deployed and ability to discern socially reproachable acts.”
Francis, who worked closely with Zanchetta when both held positions at the bishops’ conference in Argentina, acknowledged in an interview with Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki in late May that Zanchetta had been investigated at his request and is currently facing a Vatican trial.
Sources have told Crux that the investigation in Rome is nearly completed, but that the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which is handling the case, is waiting for the Argentine courts
It is DISGRACEFUL but NOT SURPRISING that Francis has given this man Zanchetta his job in the Vatican back before the outcome of his criminal trial in Argentina.
What a slap in the face for his seminarian victims?1
What lack of respect for due process in Argentina?
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