Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta – currently facing trial both in his native Argentina and in the Vatican after allegations of sexually abusive behaviour toward his own seminarians – has returned to work in the Vatican’s powerful and troubled Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See – APSA – the Vatican’s central bank.
Crux reported the news Saturday evening, quoting Vatican press office director Matteo Bruni, who told Crux: “[W]hile naturally remaining available to the Argentine judicial authorities, [Bishop] Zanchetta was able to resume his service which does not interfere in any way with the investigations.”
The Catholic Herald independently confirmed the news with Bruni in a brief exchange on Saturday evening, and again after reaching Bruni by phone on Sunday morning. Bruni had nothing to say about the status of Bishop Zanchetta’s canonical process, but Pope Francis had the results of the preliminary investigation no later than May of last year.
“Something like fifteen days ago the preliminary investigation came to me,” Pope Francis told Noticieros Televisa in an interview broadcast 28 May 2019. “I read it, and I saw that it was necessary to make a judgment. Then I passed it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, [and] they are making the judgment.” At that point, the Vatican and Pope Francis had been aware of the complaints against Zanchetta for years.
The Vatican suspended Bishop Zanchetta in January of last year, after reports surfaced of ambiguous conduct with seminarians and irregular financial management. Shortly thereafter, Zanchetta was with other high curial officials on retreat with Pope Francis, despite his suspension.
Argentinian authorities eventually decided to indict Zanchetta and try him on charges of “aggravated continuous sexual abuse” allegedly committed against two former seminarians. Zanchetta denies the charges. he has entered a plea of Not Guilty and is currently standing trial in Argentina.
In November of last year, Crux cited Vatican sources as saying that the investigation in Rome was nearing completion, and that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – to which Francis entrusted the matter – was waiting for the court proceedings in Argentina to conclude.
This is not the first time Bishop Zanchetta’s employment status has been the subject of scrutiny.
Over the summer of last year, Bishop Zanchetta produced a certificate for the court in Argentina, which came from the sostituto of the Secretariat of State – roughly, the pope’s chief of staff – Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra. The certificate said Zanchetta was needed in the Vatican to “continue with his daily work” even though he was supposedly suspended from his tailor-made position as “assessor” to the APSA.
When news broke – in June, 2019 – of the leave granted Bishop Zanchetta for “work-related” travel, the Catholic Herald asked the press office for clarification of his status, but received no reply. In September 2019, after the note from Archbishop Pena emerged, press office director Bruni told the Herald: “[T]he situation concerning [Bishop] Zanchetta’s working activity has not changed since 4th January ,” which was when the Holy See confirmed Zanchetta’s suspension, pending investigation.
On Sunday morning, Bruni had nothing further to tell the Herald, beyond his confirmation of the statement he gave to Crux.