Francis had named Zanchetta to Oran, a humble city some 1,650 kilometers (1,025 miles) northwest of Buenos Aires in Salta province, in 2013 in one of his first Argentine bishop appointments as pope. He knew Zanchetta well; Zanchetta had been the executive undersecretary of the Argentine bishops conference, which the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio headed for two successive terms, from 2005-2011.
And by all indications, they were close. Manzano said Bergoglio had been Zanchetta's confessor and treated him as a "spiritual son."
All of which could explain why Francis named him to Oran despite complaints about alleged abuses of power when Zanchetta was in charge of economic affairs in his home diocese of Quilmes, which is in the ecclesial province of Buenos Aires which Bergoglio headed.
ORAN, Argentina (AP) — The Vatican received information in 2015 and 2017 that an Argentine bishop close to Pope Francis (Pope Francis appointed him bishop as one of his first appointments bypassing the papal nuncio) had taken naked selfies, exhibited "obscene" behavior and had been accused of misconduct with seminarians, his former vicar general told The Associated Press, undermining Vatican claims that allegations of sexual abuse were only made a few months ago.
Francis accepted Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta's resignation in August 2017, after priests in the remote northern Argentine diocese of Oran complained about his authoritarian rule and a former vicar, seminary rector and another prelate provided reports to the Vatican alleging abuses of power, inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment of adult seminarians, said the former vicar, the Rev. Juan Jose Manzano.
The scandal over Zanchetta, 54, is the latest to implicate Francis as he and the Catholic hierarchy as a whole face an unprecedented crisis of confidence over their mishandling of cases of clergy sexual abuse of minors and misconduct with adults. Francis has summoned church leaders to a summit next month to chart the course forward for the universal church, but his own actions in individual cases are increasingly in the spotlight.
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