Accused Bishop Has Job in Rome Despite being “Suspended,” Vatican Tells Argentinian Court

An Argentinian bishop who is actively being investigated for sexual abuse against at least two seminarians has been allowed to travel back to Rome due to his “daily work,” this despite being supposedly suspended from his job during the abuse investigation.

Once again, the Vatican is saying one thing publicly and doing the opposite behind closed doors. Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta was “suspended” from ministry in February when he was officially charged with sexual abuse. However, despite that suspension Vatican officials appear to be working to ensure that Bishop Zanchetta remains free, telling the court that the demands of his “daily work” require him to be in Rome instead of Argentina while the investigation progresses. This decision is at best questionable and at worst an opportunity for the Argentinian bishop to flee from justice, since there is no extradition treaty between the Vatican and Argentina.

If Pope Francis was serious about his “all-out battle” against cases of clergy abuse, he should order Bishop Zanchetta to remain in Argentina under the supervision of the criminal authorities while awaiting the outcome of the investigation. The Pope should also be personally visiting his home country and urging anyone with information concerning the allegations against Bishop  Zanchetta, or any other church official, to come forward and contact law enforcement. He should not be telling the public that the Argentinian bishop is suspended but then submitting documentation to the court that Bishop Zanchetta’s “work” requires his presence in Rome.

Children and the vulnerable are best protected when abusers are kept in jail and when the institutions that enabled them avoid muddying an investigation. What the Vatican is doing in this case shows that their public pronouncements are suspect and that it is up to secular law enforcement and vigilant members of the public to wage this “all-out battle” for them.

Contact:  Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, zhiner@snapnetwork.org)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is www.SNAPnetwork.org


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  • Loyolaalum Snap
    commented 2019-08-29 12:43:24 -0500
    John Bollard’s case may be one of the earliest instances of a reported credible charge by a seminarian

    A high ranking Jesuit had resigned earlier due to alleged sexual overtures to Jesuit seminarian John Bollard

    Bollard’s case was a 60 Minutes segment.

    Background:
    Seattle University [a Jesuit university] official quits amid harassment allegations
    SEATTLE (WA)
    Seattle Post-Intelligencer
    October 13, 2006

    By Phuong Cat Le and Vanessa Ho
    P-I reporters

    Seattle University vice president who oversees campus ministry has resigned from his post amid allegations that he had sexually harassed a young seminary student a decade ago.

    The Rev. Tony Harris, the university’s second-highest ranking Jesuit, resigned Thursday in an e-mail sent to faculty staff and students.

    Last Friday, the P-I reported that Seattle University hired Harris in 2001 after he had settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by John Bollard.

    In that lawsuit, Bollard accused Harris and two other priests of making repeated sexual overtures when he was training to be a priest in San Francisco in the early 1990s.

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