While this is Zanchetta’s first conviction in a criminal court, allegations of sexual misconduct were first raised in 2015.
According to Argentinian newspaper El Tribuno, one of Zanchetta’s secretaries accidentally discovered sexually explicit images that were sent and recieved from his cell phone in 2015. The secretary alerted authorities, stating that the pictures included “young people” engaged in sexual activity, as well as lewd images of the bishop.
In October 2015, Pope Francis summoned Zanchetta to Rome for five days. At the time, Zanchetta informed Pope Francis that his phone had been hacked, and that the allegations against him were motivated by anti-Pope Francis sentiment.
Francis reportedly accepted the bishop’s explanation that his cell phone had been hacked, and took no further action.
In a May 2019 interview with Valentina Alazraki, a Mexican journalist for Televisa, Pope Francis responded to the criticism he received for having appointed Zanchetta as assessor to APSA in 2017.
The pope said that some described the bishop as “despot, bossy, well, financial management of things is not entirely clear, it seems, this isn’t proven. But certainly the clergy felt they were not well treated by him” so “as clergy they made a complaint to the Nunciature.”
The pontiff said that he called the Nunciature and the Nuncio stressed that “the complaint is serious for mistreatment, abuse of power, we could say, right?” The pope said he then sent Zanchetta to Spain "to take a psychiatric test."
The pope said that “the result of the test was within the normal range” and they advised that he receive therapy once a month in Madrid, so Zanchetta didn’t return to Argentina.
Regarding the criticism for alleged financial mismanagement, the pope said that “financially he was messy but there was no financial mismanagement because of the things he worked on. He was messy but the vision was good.”
Pope Francis explained that after receiving the results of the preliminary investigation that was carried out on Zanchetta in 2019, “I saw that a trial was necessary. So I passed it on to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where they are conducting the trial.”
Pope Francis then concluded: "How the trial will end, I don't know, I leave it in their hands."
(Story continues below)
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There was no word from the Vatican on Friday as to whether it would issue a statement regarding Zanchetta’s conviction.
ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language sister agency, contributed to this story.
Christine Rousselle is a former DC Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. Prior to working at CNA, she was the managing web editor of Townhall.com; she has a BA in political science from Providence College.