Pope Francis lectured the American bishops this week on their “crisis of credibility” even as his own reputation took another hit in the wake of revelations about one of his protégés. It turns out that another McCarrick-like predator has been nesting at the Vatican under the patronage of this famously permissive pope. “Pope Francis’ Argentinean Protégé Accused of Sex Abuse,” reported the Daily Beast.
The accused bishop is Gustavo Óscar Zanchetta, a crony of Pope Francis’s from his days as archbishop of Buenos Aires. According to the story, Zanchetta, who has been accused of preying upon priests and seminarians, has long benefited from his friendship with the pope, first in Argentina, where Bergoglio orchestrated his elevation to a top-ranking position within the Argentinean Bishops Conference and then “made his fellow countryman a bishop right after becoming pope in 2013.” Zanchetta didn’t last long in that post, resigning in 2017 under a mysterious cloud of priestly complaints and claims of poor “health.” He scurried out of Argentina without even saying a “farewell mass,” according to the story, only to turn up shortly thereafter on “Pope Francis’ doorstep in Rome,” where Zanchetta was quickly thrown a new papal plum:
By December, Francis had created a position for Zanchetta in the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, known as APSA, according to the Vatican’s own press statements from the time. The office oversees more than 5,000 lavish properties under the Vatican’s Secretariat of the Economy, run by George Pell, now on a leave of absence to fight historical sex-abuse charges in his home country of Australia.
Meanwhile, back in the Argentinean diocese Zanchetta had ditched, outraged priests and parishioners stewed over his scandals:
There was speculation by El Tribuno newspaper in Salta, Argentina, that he had a drug problem after he allegedly refused to allow police to search his vehicle during a routine traffic stop, citing his role as a high-ranking bishop as the reason he did not have to succumb to the search.
Then rumors started to swirl that Zanchetta had paid off three whistle-blowing priests who had apparently reported him to the local papal nuncio, or Vatican representative, in Argentina.
If true, it would have meant that the nuncio would have alerted members of the Roman Curia in Rome. Then one of two things would have happened. As an Argentinean that Francis made a bishop, the pope was either informed of the trouble on his home turf, or protected from it.
The charges laid out in the Argentinean press include mismanagement of diocese funds to buy the silence of several young seminarians between the ages of 20 and 25 that Zanchetta had allegedly sexually harassed and tried to convince to enter into a sexual relationship. El Tribunocites “masturbation, groping and psychological pressure” brought on by the powerful bishop against the priests in training. One report outlines lavish gifts used to buy the silence of the young seminarians.
It was only after authorities in Argentina opened up a probe into Zanchetta’s misconduct and media coverage mounted that the pope finally cut him loose this week. The Vatican is once again playing dumb, claiming it knew nothing of the allegations against Zanchetta at the time of his new appointment. But who believes that? This is a pontificate that turned a predator known to Francis, Theodore McCarrick, into a papal envoy and dispatched him to the ends of the earth.
Read more at the American Spectator