Bishop accused of sex abuse lives at Pope’s Vatican hotel

An Argentine bishop wanted for alleged sex abuse offences has been living at the Vatican’s Domus Santa Marta. This is the same hotel where Pope Francis lives.

Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta is accused of sexually abusing two seminarians. The seminarians also say he mismanaged the diocese’s finances and abused his power.

The bishop was criminally charged in June and could be imprisoned for three to 10 years if he is convicted.

He has been suspended from his position at the Vatican’s central bank where Francis appointed him as an “assessor” in 2017.

Argentinian prosecutors have complained Zanchetta failed to respond to repeated emails and telephone calls about the abuse allegations.

The Vatican’s apparent protection of Zanchetta has angered prosecutors.

“Despite being suspended from ministry, the Vatican has argued that Zanchetta’s ‘daily work’ requires him to be in Rome instead of facing trial in Argentina,” says Zach Hiner.

Hiner is the executive director of victims’ pressure group SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“This decision is at best questionable and at worst a Vatican-sponsored opportunity for him to flee from justice,” he added.

“If Pope Francis was serious about his “all-out battle” against cases of clergy abuse, he would order Zanchetta to return to Argentina and face the allegations against him.”

However, Zanchetta’s spokesman is criticising the Argentine prosecutors, saying releasing information about the case hurts his image and his presumption of innocence.

Spokesman Javier Belda says Zanchetta is not rebelling by not responding to calls or messages.

Rather, he says Zanchetta has cooperated with judicial authorities throughout the case.

Zanchetta’s situation became public just as Francis made an impassioned speech in Bangkok last week on behalf of victims of sex trafficking.

However, Anne Barrett Doyle, of, says: “It’s vital that Pope Francis ensures Zanchetta’s full cooperation with Argentine civil authorities.”

“To do otherwise would put the Pope in violation of his own decree forbidding conduct by bishops that interferes with civil investigations.”

“Francis must begin to set an example – especially because his protectiveness toward Zanchetta to date already raises disturbing questions about his commitment to ending complicity by Church officials.”

“Francis should not have given Zanchetta safe harbour in the first place, given the bishop’s reported wrongdoing in Argentina.”

An Argentinian prosecutor of sexual crimes is asking for international assistance in Zanchetta’s arrest.


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