“We were practically nothing to him,” “M.C.” said in the interview. “He also discriminated against seminarians for being fat or for being 'old’; there were 30-year-old seminarians and he treated them like old men who were useless.”
The decision to speak out
“M.C.” said he began to more fully understand Zanchetta’s abusive behavior after a conversation with a priest toward the end of his time in the seminary.
“I opened my eyes and realized everything we had lived through,” he told the newspaper. “We were very manipulated, we did not understand the dimension of everything he had done and how his process of manipulation began, from insignificant things to [sexual misconduct.]"
“M.C.” said in the interview that some seminarians were “sad” when Zanchetta announced he was stepping down, adding, “but I didn’t feel anything.”
“[Zanchetta] asked me how I felt. When I told him that I was calm, he became upset because he wanted me to cry, but I did not feel any emotional attachment, especially since I already knew what he had done and that he had been canonically denounced at the Nunciature,” he said.
In February 2019, the Congregation for Bishops instructed Archbishop Carlos Alberto Sánchezj of the Diocese of of Tucumán, Argentina, to conduct a preliminary canonical investigation of the complaints against Zanchetta of sexual abuse and abuse of power. Once the investigation was completed the case moved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
"When I decided to denounce him, I didn't know if I was doing the right thing. There was so much pressure in the Church that said, 'Don't do anything, nothing happened, things weren't as you say,’” he explained.
“Sometimes the priests, the bishop (Luis Escozzina from the Diocese of Orán) told me I was exaggerating and today I realize that they tried to cover up and minimize. At one point I thought I was crazy. There was so much pressure because they drilled [these ideas] into my head."
“M.C.” said he took a chance by reporting Zanchetta to the civil authorities.
“I didn't have the money to pay for a lawyer, and I didn't know which lawyer was really going to take the risk in this case, because it was standing up to a Church authority,” he said in the interview. “That is why I really admire the courage of the prosecutor (Soledad Filtrín Cuezzo) who took the risk and defended us until the end.”
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In the wake of Zanchetta’s conviction and sentencing, the former seminarian said, “our personal work continues, the work of healing those wounds that will remain for a lifetime and that are very difficult to heal."
As of March 14 the Vatican had yet to release any statement on Zanchetta's conviction.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.