Pope Francis was reportedly told more than one time about Argentine priest Gustavo Zanchetta in reference to lewd an inappropriate behavior, especially for a priest, but still, the pope referred to the man as his “spiritual son,” and elevated him to the designation of bishop and moved him to the Vatican.
The Daily Beast reports that despite a history of naked selfies, public masturbation, and harassment of seminarians, Zanchetta moved up the ranks, and was allowed to make the move to Rome with complete immunity for anything that happened previously in the Argentine diocese of Oran.
Bishop Zanchetta’s former vicar in Argentina, Juan Jose Manzano says he first reported the bishop when he was still in Argentina prior to 2015 for sending “nude photos of himself in various stages of arousal” around the seminary. Manzano reported him to the papal nuncio/ambassador to the Holy See, who delivered the complaints to the Vatican in 2015. Pope Francis had already been there for two years.
The pope has called for a “crisis summit” next month in Rome to discuss “global clerical abuse” possibly to deal with this and related matters. The meeting is currently scheduled for February 21-24.
Manzano is stating publicly that he even sent one of the nude selfies to Rome as proof of what he was alleging, which caused Pope Francis to summon Zanchetta to the Vatican for a meeting to discuss the matter and his behavior in 2015, which flies in the face of the Vatican press office assertion that they only learned about Zanchetta’s behavior in 2018.
Manzano released a statement to this effect.
“In 2015, we just sent a ‘digital support’ with selfie photos of the previous bishop in obscene or out of place behavior that seemed inappropriate and dangerous. It was an alarm that we made to the Holy See via some friendly bishops. The nunciature didn’t intervene directly, but the Holy Father summoned Zanchetta and he justified himself saying that his cellphone had been hacked and that there were people who were out to damage the image of the pope.”
The Miami Herald says that the Zanchetta scandal is the latest bit of disturbing news that ties Pope Francis to the mishandling of cases involving clergy and sexual abuse.
Next month’s meeting is supposed to help the Vatican plot the path further for the Catholic Church, but there is no indication at this time that there will be any talk of the pope’s involvement in any of it.