Catholic bishop in Argentina convicted of sex abuse

Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta

by Brad Dress

A powerful bishop in Argentina was convicted on Friday of sexually abusing two young men who were studying to become priests, Reuters reported.

Gustavo Zanchetta, the former bishop of Oran in Argentina’s northern province of Salta, was convicted of sexually abusing two former seminarians and was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison, according to the wire service.

The verdict was reached after more than a week of graphic testimony from witnesses who described unwanted touching and sexual advances by the former bishop, according to summaries released by the judiciary, Reuters reported.

Those who testified also claimed that the clergyman had asked for massages, given gifts to those seminarians that he favored and had a history of keeping pornography on his phone.

In addition, he allegedly looked at pornography on the church’s computer.

Zanchette, for his part, has denied the accusations, and his lawyer said they will appeal the case, according to Reuters.

Zanchetta was a priest for more than 30 years and a bishop for more than eight, according to a website tracking catholic clergy.

The conviction marks the latest sex abuse case among many that have plagued the Catholic Church as an institution for years.

Last week, a German Catholic priest was sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexually abusing children.

But Zanchetta was bishop in the home country of Pope Francis, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, who assumed the papacy in 2013 and has pledged justice for victims of sexual abuse.

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