Argentine bishops renew commitment to eradicating sex abuse after Bishop Zanchetta's sentencing

zanchetta smaller 1 Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, Bishop Emeritus of Orán | ACI Prensa

The Argentine Bishops’ Conference expressed Friday its closeness to the victims of Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, sentenced to prison for sexually abusing seminarians, and renewed their commitment to eradicate these abusive behaviors.

“Having learned of the court ruling in which Gustavo Zanchetta, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of San Ramón de la Nueva Orán, has been convicted, we want to express our closeness to the victims and express a strong and sincere request for forgiveness on behalf of the entire Church,” the bishops said in a March 4 statement.

The Argentine bishops noted that "these painful events renew us in the committed and urgent task of eradicating this type of abusive behavior."

They also expressed their commitment to "continue working hard for the implementation of the measures that the Holy See has requested from the Dioceses of the whole world in the search for truth and justice."

"Let us ask the Virgin Mary to console the immense pain of the victims and their families," the Argentine bishops concluded.

Earlier that day, Bishop Zanchetta, 58, was sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment. 

He had pleaded not guilty to the charge of “aggravated continued simple sexual abuse committed by a recognized minister of religion” on Feb. 21. He was accused of abusing two seminarians, who were identified by the acronyms “G.G.F.L.” and “C.M.” 

The two victims said that Bishop Zanchetta had made “amorous proposals” and had requested “massages” from them.

Bishop Zanchetta was one of Pope Francis’ first episcopal appointments in Argentina, leading the Diocese of Orán from July 2013 to 2017.

After being allowed to resign as Bishop of Orán for health reasons in 2017, Bishop Zanchetta was appointed by Pope Francis to the specially created position of assessor at the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, which oversees the Vatican’s real estate holdings and other sovereign assets.

In addition to the charges of sexual abuse, Bishop Zanchetta has been charged with financial misconduct.

Public records show that Bishop Zanchetta received more than 1 million Argentine pesos (around $10,500) from Salta Province to restore a rectory and for lectures at a seminary, which allegedly never took place. The bishop is also accused of mismanaging Church funds donated by the faithful in the Orán diocese.

Bishop Zanchetta was suspended from his role as an assessor at APSA amid a canonical investigation, announced in January 2019.

In June 2020, the Vatican confirmed that Bishop Zanchetta had returned to work at APSA while “remaining available to the Argentine judicial authorities.”

A source working at APSA told CNA in June 2021 that the Argentine bishop had finished his service at APSA.

Argentine media have reported that the bishop was first accused of sexually inappropriate behavior as early as 2015.

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