With New Sexual Abuse Case Francis May Go From Cleanup Man to Accused
(Rome) In July 2017, Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, although only 53 years old, became emeritus diocesan bishop of the Argentine diocese of Oran.The reason given was his health."Many were worried that he was suffering from a deadly disease, because it was not even enough to celebrate a mass for farewell," said the US Daily Beast on January 4th.The departure from the diocese was extremely abrupt.Now the evidence is mounting, that the reason for it was a completely different one.
A true Bergoglian
Monsignor Zanchetta belongs to the circle of Bergoglians among the bishops with whom the Pope's former Primate of Argentina is rebuilding the Episcopate of his native land.On July 23, 2013, Francis Gustavo had appointed Oscar Zanchetta Bishop of Oran.
Four years later, the bishop left his diocese in a shambles on August 1, 2017.He subsequently justified his hasty disappearance from an unknown location with unspecified "health problems". He merely said that these problems would have to be dealt with elsewhere. Then, as is now known, he stopped in Corrientes, 900 kilometers away, and then reappeared further away in Madrid - and apparently in good health again.
Madrid was "oddly enough," according to Vaticanist Sandro Magister, two years earlier, in late 2014 / early 2015, also the target destination of Juan Barros, the Chilean bishop whose case exploded in January 2018 and forced Francis to act against his will.This was the time before Francis appointed the then military bishop of Chile against the opinion of the Church leadership in Chile as Bishop of Osorno.
It is suspected that Zanchetta like Barros was under Spanish Jesuits.Among them is German Arana, who is one of the most sought advisors of Pope Francis "for many episcopal appointments", to whome the Pope "most gives his ear," according to Magister.
It was rumored in Argentine media in 2017 that Zanchetta had left the administration and finances of his diocese in a catastrophic state.As it turned out, it had happened before in the diocese of Quilmes, his home diocese, where Zanchetta was vicar general.
Out of the mess in Quilmes, Pope Francis "rescued" him by appointing him Bishop of Oran.In Oran, too, the papal hand came to his aid again, accepting his resignation immediately and thus allowing him the abrupt departure at night and fog.
Moreover, after four and a half months, when there was no official sign of life, the bishop suddenly reappeared in Rome.On 19 December, he was again appointed by Pope Francis as assessor of the Administration of Goods of the Apostolic See (APSA).The decision was all the more astounding as Zanchetta, who had caused financial chaos in two diocese, seemed less than a perfect fit for a high-ranking job in the Vatican's financial administration.
Brought to Safety in the Vatican
According to Vatican indiscretions, however, the bishop was only "parked" there.For him, a new job was specifically created.The APSA is considered a secret powerhouse of the current pontificate.At that time it was still headed by Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, a loyal supporter of the ruling Pope, since June 2018 is standing with Bishop Nunzio Galantino a no less convinced Bergoglian at their head.This reliability seems to have been crucial.Pope Francis needed a dicastery in which no questions would be asked, because Zanchetta was not assigned a task.He had only been brought to safety.
But why was Zanchetta brought to safety on the territory of the sovereign Vatican State?
In addition to the finances, yet another rumor surfaced in Argentina in 2017: The bishop is said to have been cited for resisting a search of his car by drug investigators.
Francis deposed several bishops steeped in tradition because of alleged "irregularities" in the finances.In all cases, critics have spoken of an excuse, such as the deposition of Bishop Rogelio Livieres in Ciudad del Este and Bishop Mario Oliveri in Albenga-Imperia.The situation was very different with Bishop Zanchetta, who was even promoted to Rome for truly catastrophic financial management.
Sexual abuse allegations and the strategy of Pope Francis
Meanwhile, Zanchetta in Argentina is "credibly accused of abusing seminarians," said Daily Beast .
The "bad news from Argentina" makes "Francis of the innocent, guilty," according to Sandro Magister.
"These are difficult times for the new team of Pope's press agents.The first public statement issued by Alessandro Gisotti, the new director of the Press Office of the Holy See, after his taking office, concerns the case of an Argentine bishop smashing to smithereens the Franciscan strategy to address the issue of sexual abuse by clerics."
According to Magister, the strategy of Francis is to side with the "powerless" and "the victims of power", "the innocent" people of God "against the clerical caste, sexual abuse, but in his opinion "This is the line Francis used in his letter to the Chilean bishops a few months ago, and he took the same line in his recent letter to the US bishops.
In fact, it was Francis who in the case of Chile stubbornly defended the innocence of Bishop Barros and kept him in office until the end, even though he received detailed memos from victims by the beginning of 2015 at the latest.The same happened in the US, where it was Francis, who left Cardinal McCarrick in office for years, although he had been personally informed by nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò in June 2013 about his homosexual double life.Rather, he rehabilitated him and gave him delicate tasks, including episcopal appointments for the United States.
"In both cases, Francis himself gave absolution and blamed himself on those who had badly advised him or denied those who, like Nuncio Viganò, made personal allegations against him," said Magister.
The same strategy seems is what Francis had planned for the summit in late February against sexual abuse.It consists in the fact that Francis, "quite Populist," and wants to appear in the guise of one who, according to Magister, "cleanses a power-drunk, clerical caste."
The papal thesis has been criticized for months.These days it was particularly clearly formulated by Cardinal Gerhard Müller and Cardinal Walter Brandmüller.The "Clericalism" criticism of Pope Francis discredits the entire clericy, although the guilty party is a small minority.In addition to this attempt at distraction, there is another: Pope Francis has so far consistently defied the obvious and well-documented link between sexual abuse by clerics and aberrosexuality.The perpetrators are in at least 80 percent of all cases homosexual clerics, i.e. persons who according to canon law should not have received the ordination.
For this reason, Cardinal Müller called the clericalism thesis "insulting the victims".
The new allegations against ex-Cardinal McCarrick and the new allegations against Bishop Zanchetta are making everything much more difficult for Francis.
Argentine revelations at an inopportune time
The Zanchetta case was raised on 28 December by the Argentine newspaper El Tribuno.The daily reported that three priests of the diocese of Oran filed a complaint of sexual abuse of seminarians against Bishop Zanchetta at the Apostolic Nuncio in Argentina.That was also the reason, according to the newspaper, why the bishop of Pope Francis was removed from his diocese on 1 August 2017.
On 4 January, the new Vatican spokesman Gisotti put emphasis on the statement that Zanchetta was not dismissed, but "resigned."However, this only partially affects the situation, because the Pope has the final decision.In addition, Gisotti tried a temporal unbundling.The allegations were known only in the fall of 2018.The results of the Nuntio's investigation, it was said, in Argentina would have yet to arrive at the Congregation of Bishops in Rome.
In fact, the public did not know about the allegations, but Zanchetta apparently knew about it - and, as it seems, the Vatican.According to El Tribuno, a first petition was made against the bishop in 2015 at the relevant Church offices.The difference to then: Now the thing came to the public, and at the door of the Abuse Summit.
For Pope Francis, the revelation comes as an utter failure.
The bishop, according to the Vatican spokesman, let his work in the Vatican property management "rest" until further notice. Although this is not significant, as shown, it signals that the allegations in the Vatican are being taken seriously.
The cases make Francis appear in a crooked light
Argentina is now the fourth country after Chile, the US and Honduras, where Pope Francis' approach to dealing with sexual abuse by high ecclesiastical dignitaries makes him look a bit shy.
"When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was chosen to succeed Peter, Zanchetta was a simple priest," said Magister.Zanchetta's career he owes Pope Francis alone, who knew him before his election for many years.
Zanchetta was deputy secretary of the Argentine Bishops' Conference and was "appreciated" by Bergoglio.So much so that Zanchetta was next to Mario Aurelio Poli, Bergoglio's successor as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and Victor Manuel Fernandez, his Ghostwriter, whom he appointed Titular Archbishop, among the first Argentines promoted by Francis.
Gisotti spoke on 4 January of a "very tense relationship with the priests of his diocese," for which Zanchetta received "authoritarianism accusations" and where his "governmental incapacity" become apparent.
But why did the Vatican realize this on 4 January 2019?
Already the next day the new Bishop of Oran contradicted the Vatican spokesman.Msgr. Luis Scozzina, a Franciscan, was appointed by Pope Francis as his successor in April 2018, eight months after Zanchetta's mysterious departure.Scozzina confirmed on media demand that Zanchetta was recalled in the summer of 2017 by Francis for abuse allegations.
But why was there no explanation, but Zanchetta's promotion to Rome?What must cover-up look like if it's not?
Preferred treatment for Franciscan bishops and cardinals
The favored treatment accorded to Francis Bishops and Cardinals, even if accused of sexual abuse, raises many questions.One question concerns the gift of "distinction" that Francis likes to speak about.In choosing his confidants and protégés his discriminating power seems to be lacking.But not if it is true that Francis favors co-workers "with a past" because he believes he can rely more on those who, after their stumbling, are obliged to offer him a second chance of special gratitude.
Magister's conclusion after the revelations about Bishop Zanchetta:
"The danger is that with the 21-24 of February, Bergoglio may no longer be seen in the role of a judge without blemish, but also on the dock of the guilty, who have tolerated and covered up abuse."
Text: Giuseppe Nari Image: Vatican.va/El Tribuno (Screenshots)