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Bishop Zanchetta with Pope Francis

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(LifeSiteNews) — An Argentinian bishop convicted of sex offenses hopes to be spared jail. 

Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, a personal friend of Pope Francis, has asked for a mitigation to the four and a half year prison sentence he was given in March for sexually abusing two seminarians in Argentina.  Zanchetta requested through his lawyer that his sentence be served under house arrest in a local monastery. 

The bishop cited health problems in support of his petition. 

Zanchetta was bishop of the Diocese of Orán in Argentina from 2013 to 2017. He resigned in 2017 for alleged “health reasons”, only to be promoted by Pope Francis to a Vatican post as assessor at the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA). The post was specially created at that time for Zanchetta.  

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Prior to Zanchetta’s resignation from Orán, however, allegations of sexual abuse had surfaced in 2015 from a priest who was the bishop’s secretary. The secretary reported to ecclesiastical authorities that sexually explicit images, including nude selfies, had been sent to and from Zanchetta’s cell phone. Later allegations included the sexual abuse of seminarians.  

When the accusations against Zanchetta became public, the Vatican insisted that it was unaware of them prior to his appointment to APSA. The sworn testimony of several priests, however, indicates the Vatican certainly knew of the allegations, and chose to ignore or dismiss them. 

Zanchetta was sentenced in March 2022 by a civil court to four and a half years in prison for the sexual abuse of two seminarians. The Vatican has conducted its own investigation but has yet to issue any judgment. 

The full background on the case can be found here and here.

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