The bishop is on a leave of absence from APSA while under investigation.
The Vatican has twice insisted it knew nothing about abuse reports against Zanchetta until the fall of 2018, though media investigations suggest that Pope Francis knew about the allegations in 2015, two years before he gave Zanchetta a Vatican job.
In the May 28 interview, Pope Francis also said he knew nothing about accusations of sexual abuse by Theodore McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Washington, prior to thoese accusations becoming public in 2018.
Zanchetta was reported to the Vatican in 2015 and 2017 when he was discovered in lewd sexual photographs on his cellphone, and suspected of sexual abusing of seminarians.
In the interview, Pope Francis confirmed that there had been an accusation against Zanchetta and said that he "immediately" brought him to the Vatican to discuss it, confirming documents published Feb. 21 by The Tribune, a newspaper in the Salta region of Argentina. The documents confirmed earlier reporting by the Associated Press.
The pope says in that meeting, Zanchetta "defended himself by saying that they had hacked him, and he defended himself well." He added that the evidence left a doubt, so "in dubio pro reo."
Francis acknowledged Zanchetta had been, according to some, "despotic, authoritarian," and had some unclear economic management.
According to Pope Francis, Zanchetta did not in fact "mishandle" things economically, though it was "disorganized."
"There is no doubt that the clergy did not feel well treated by him" when he was Bishop of Orán, he stated. Francis explained that after receiving complaints about mistreatment by Zanchetta from some clergy, communicated through the nuncio, he asked for Zanchetta's resignation as Bishop of Orán.
According to The Tribune, three of Zanchetta’s vicars general and two monsignors made a formal internal complaint before the Argentine nunciature in 2016, alleging inappropriate behavior with seminarians, such as encouraging them to drink alcohol and favoring the more “graceful” (attractive) among them.
When Zanchetta resigned in 2017 he claimed it was for health reasons. The Vatican did not open an investigation at that time.
Pope Francis said he sent the Argentine prelate to Spain for a psychiatric test, not "a holiday in Spain" as he said some media reported, and "the test result was normal, they recommended a therapy once a month." This is why, the pope stated, he did not go back to Argentina -- because he had to go to Madrid for two days of therapy every month.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
The pope said he shared all of this background information to answer the "impatient people" who say that "they did nothing."
"The Pope should not publish what he is doing every day, but from the first moment of this case, I did not stand by and watch," he defended.
To the journalist's statement that "I think it was important to tell all this, don't you think?" he said: "I told it now. But I can't do it every moment, but I never stopped."