Vatican accused of harbouring bishop wanted for alleged sexual abuse of young priests

The Vatican has been accused of harbouring a bishop wanted for alleged sex abuse offences, as Pope Francis railed against the evils of sexual exploitation on a visit to Thailand.

Prosecutors in Argentina have issued an international arrest warrant for Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, who is accused of sexually abusing young trainee priests, known as seminarians. He denies the charges.

Bishop Zanchetta, 55, who is close to his fellow Argentine Pope Francis, lives in the Vatican.

Not only that, he reportedly resides in Casa Santa Marta, an accommodation block in the shadow of St Peter’s Basilica where Francis has lived ever since his election six years ago.

Argentinian prosecutors have complained that the bishop has failed to respond to repeated emails and telephone calls about the abuse allegations, which were made last year by two young seminarians. The trainee priests also accused him of mismanagement of the diocese’s finances and abuse of power.

If convicted, the bishop would face up to 10 years in prison, but there is no extradition treaty between Argentina and the Vatican and for now he seems to be safely ensconced in Rome.

The stand-off emerged as Pope Francis made an impassioned speech in Bangkok on behalf of victims of sex trafficking, raising suspicions of a double standard in the Catholic Church’s stance on sex crimes.

During an open air Mass in Bangkok on Thursday, he urged greater efforts in combating what he called the “humiliation” of women and childr...

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