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Argentine Bishop Promoted by Pope Francis Accused of Abusing Seminarians

An Argentine bishop, who suddenly resigned from his diocese in 2017 citing health reasons only to be appointed to a top Vatican administrative position by Pope Francis, is now under investigation for sexual abuse, the Vatican said in a statement today.

Alessandro Gissoti, interim director of the Vatican Press Office, said today that accusations against Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta emerged over recent months, about a year after Pope Francis created a position for him as “assessor” of the Holy See’s financial administration office.

Bishop Zanchetta resigned from his diocese of Oran in northwest Argentina in 2017, stating that “a health issue prevents me from carrying out the pastoral mission that was entrusted to me.” He added that he wished to relinquish his post as “soon as possible” so as to receive treatment elsewhere. “Please forgive me for having failed or deceived you,” Zanchetta wrote.

After his resignation, Zanchetta spent some time in Spain before being named as an advisor to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, which oversees the various real estate and other properties of the papacy. According to a papal spokesman, Zanchetta was appointed to the administrative position because of his professional abilities. During the investigation, Zanchetta will take a leave of absence from his work at the Vatican.

According to Gissoti, at the time of Zanchetta’s resignation, there had been accusations laid against him of authoritarianism and strained relations with members of the clergy. However, no accusations of sexual misdeeds emerged at that time. Bishop Luis Antonio Scozzina, who currently presides over Zanchetta’s former diocese, has several testimonies about Zanchetta that must still be reviewed.

According to El Tribuno, the newspaper of Salta, a province in northern Argentina, three seminarians accused Zanchetta of abuse and later left the seminary. Ten other seminarians were intimidated to remain silent about the abuse they had witnessed, said the report.

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