Nick Hallett 25 February, 2019
Inés San Martin asked how we can believe there will be no more cover-ups when the Pope 'covered up for someone in Argentina who had gay porn involving minors'
A prominent Vatican journalist has accused Pope Francis of covering up for an Argentine bishop who had gay porn on his phone involving minors.
Inés San Martin, who is one of the most respected journalists in the Vatican press corps, asked Archbishop Charles Scicluna at a press conference after the abuse summit: “We know there is a bishop in Argentina, Zanchetta, who had gay porn on his phone involving young people.
“How can we believe that this is in fact the last time we’re going to hear ‘no more cover-ups’ when at the end of the day, Pope Francis covered up for someone in Argentina who had gay porn involving minors?
At Presser for Vatican Sexual Abuse Summit #PBC2019, @inesanma asks how can we believe that this is the end of cover-ups, "when at the end of the day, Pope Francis himself covered-up for a Bishop in Argentina who had gay porn on his phone", referring to Argentine Bishop Zanchetta pic.twitter.com/RN8txTMbTi
— Catholic Sat (@CatholicSat) February 24, 2019
Archbishop Scicluna appeared to be taken aback by the question, responding: “Well I’ll quote what the Holy Father said this morning about the law. About the case, I’m not, I’m not, you know, I’m not authorised… I mean, yeah.”
Vatican interim press office director Alessandro Gisotti then cut off Archbishop Scicluna’s response, saying that questions about specific cases were not permitted.
San Martin was referring to the case of Gustavo Zanchetta, which was first reported by AP and Argentine newspaper El Tribuno in January. Zanchetta was named Bishop of Orán by Pope Francis in 2013, before suddenly retiring in 2017, ostensibly on health grounds. The Pope then appointed him to a senior Vatican role just months later.
However, Zanchetta’s former vicar general revealed last month that the bishop faced numerous accusations abuse against seminarians, and of having gay pornography and ‘naked selfies’ on his phone. He added that the Vatican had known of the allegations as early as 2015.
El Tribuno published further documents last Thursday suggesting Pope Francis knew of the allegations. The documents, written in 2016 by a diocesan secretary and sent to the nunciature, various high ranking prelates in the Argentine church and the Pope himself, includes complaints about Zanchetta’s “strange behaviour”.
Signed by three vicars general and two monsignors, the documents say Zanchetta would meet seminarians without the rector of the seminary being present. He would also spend the night in their accommodation, ask them to give him massages, encouraged them to drink alcohol.
The diocesan secretary also says that he discovered obscene images of Zanchetta and other men while downloading content from Zanchetta’s phone to his PC, at Zanchetta’s request.
In January, the Vatican refused to confirm or deny receiving the evidence against Zanchetta.
The vicar general of Orán, however, told AP: “In 2015, we just sent a ‘digital support’ with selfie photos of [Zanchetta] in obscene or out of place behaviour that seemed inappropriate and dangerous.”
The Vatican has yet to comment on the latest documents.