Argentine bishop faces abuse trial at Vatican

An Argentine bishop who is said to be close to Pope Francis is on trial at the Vatican.

He has been accused of sexually abusing seminarians.

Francis says he received the results of a preliminary investigation into Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta two weeks ago.

As a result, he ordered the case be handed over for trial by a church tribunal.

Zanchetta resigned suddenly as the bishop of Oran, Argentina in 2017.

Within a few months he was was granted a senior Vatican administration position.

News reports say the Vatican was aware of inappropriate sexual behaviour by Zanchetta two years before he resigned.

However, the Vatican refutes this, insisting Zanchetta’s resignation was because he was facing governance problems at the time.

The Vatican says the first accusation of Zanchetta’s abuse came in late 2018.

Francis was asked about Zanchetta’s track record when he was interviewed on Mexican television earlier this week.

He said in 2015 he asked Zanchetta about the first accusations against him involving nude selfies on his cellphone.

Francis went on to say that he gave Zanchetta the benefit of the doubt about the selfies when he claimed his phone had been hacked.

A year later, Oran’s seminary rector was so concerned about Zanchetta’s behavior that he made a formal complaint to the Vatican ambassador that “urgent measures” were needed to protect his first-year students, since their introductory classes were held in Zanchetta’s residence.

The complaint listed Zanchetta’s problematic behaviour with seminarians. This included his tendency to walk by their rooms at night, asking them for massages, going into their rooms to wake them up in the morning and sitting on their beds, inviting them to drink alcohol and having an “obsessive omnipresence” in the seminary that made the young men feel “asphyxiated.”


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