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Victim of Bishop Zanchetta: ‘Don’t turn your back on us; we didn’t deserve such treatment’

Walter Sanchez Silva   By Walter Sanchez Silva for CNA

Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, accused of sexually abusing young men in northern Argentina, sits in court in Or·n, Argentina, Feb. 21, 2022. Bishop Zanchetta, the retired bishop of Or·n, was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for abusing students at St. John XXIII Seminary. (CNS photo/Judiciary of Salta/handout via Reuters)

ACI Prensa Staff, Aug 13, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

A former seminarian and victim of the bishop emeritus of Oran, Argentina, Gustavo Zanchetta — who was sentenced to prison for sexual abuse in Argentina — asked the Catholic Church not to turn its back on him.

On Aug. 12, ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency,  interviewed G.C., a 28-year-old former seminarian and one of Zanchetta’s victims, after the bishop was allowed to serve his sentence under house arrest in July.

The place of house arrest, according to the newspaper El Tribuno, is a house for retired priests in the Monastery of Our Lady of the Valley of Nueva Orán of the Order of the Immaculate Conception-Franciscan Conceptionist Mothers.

In March, Zanchetta was sentenced to four and a half years in prison after being found guilty of abuse.

“Simply that: don’t turn your back on us. We didn’t deserve such treatment,” G.C. told ACI Prensa when asked about what he is asking of the Catholic Church.

“Faced with such a situation, God willing, there will be no other cases, but if it does happen, let (the Church) not turn its back as it did to us because we didn’t deserve that treatment, first from a person who is a persona non grata to the Church, a person who harmed the faithful, the people of God,” the victim said.

“And second, if psychological therapy is offered so much in the seminaries, well, I think that the Church didn’t see many things in that respect. Many things were known about Zanchetta when he was ordained a bishop and I think it was a mistake, to not use another (worse) word,” G.C. lamented.

House arrest ‘not what we expected’

Regarding the house arrest, Zanchetta’s victim said he was not surprised by the decision by the judges after the request “to be able to have a comfortable prison available to him, according to his status. He always stressed the power that he has and that’s why he is where he is and not in a prison.”

“I always say that if I had lost the trial, I’m sure that I would — we would — have been in prison and not under house arrest,” he added.

G. C. also said that in the case of Zanchetta, “justice was done, but not in the way we expected. We expected him to serve his sentence in jail.”

‘The Church didn’t help us’

When asked if he has felt welcomed by the Church, the victim was clear: “No, not at all. Since he left the seminary the Church hasn’t taken care of us or our situation. Nothing, absolutely nothing.”

“I even spoke with the current bishop, Luis Antonio Scozzina. I talked to him so he could give me the possibility of helping me with the psychological therapy that I still need,” G.C. said.

The victim later said that the bishop agreed to it “because financially I wasn’t well and neither was my family. So I asked him for help for this reason but he didn’t help me.”

“There wasn’t even a talk with me after this, to ask how we were, if we were okay, if we needed anything,” he lamented.

After saying that at this time he feels alone, although there was a priest who accompanied him, G.C. he said he “expected more from the Church. As I told you, we have felt alone in that regard. The Church didn’t help us.”

Diocese of Oran’s response

ACI Prensa contacted the Diocese of Oran to ask whether or not it is helping the victims with psychological therapy.

“The bishop indicates that the seminarian M.C, who requested help, although he denies receiving it, has received it for five months. Psychological help is provided for that, but the other one (G.C.) didn’t request help,” the diocese responded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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  1. Zanchetta promoted to papal duties! After being sentenced, should he not of been excommunicated instead?
    The excommunication of Papa?

    One may say wolves amongst the sheep! Who might say Papa “has the smell of sheep on him”?

    • Good point. Once priests cross that line, and if they have a pattern of harming people, the Church owes them nothing. You could argue that the Church has a moral and spiritual obligation to excommunicate. Why protect them? It just adds insult to injury.

  2. Why hasn’t McCarrick had his trial yet? Maybe they should wait until he’s 110 years old and maybe then his victim(s) will have justice. The criminal justice system when it comes to the hierarchy is just as broken as the Vatican is.

    • In Francis’ moral universe, victims are a fantasy that would get in the way, if these victims existed, of “mercy” for those victimizers feeling guilty. Even God is in the “process” of learning that He should not be doling out guilt, except to Catholics who go to Latin Masses and practice chastity that is.

    • Well, a trial is going to draw attention to the church and the abuse issue. The hierarchy would prefer that that doesn’t happen. A trial is also potentially going to expose and implicate people who colluded with him in some way. He’s the tip of the iceberg.

  3. The remarkably consistent pattern in our Catholic “ecclesial establishment,” from one country to the next, is that when evidence of abuse emerges, and victims of abuse ask for help and support from the “leaders in the ecclesial establishment” (bishops if I recall correctly?), the pattern is that the victims and their families report being ignored at best, or even worse, accused of wrongdoing by “the leaders,” (the bishops).

    Just ask Joseph Sciambra of California.

    Or just ask the Vangelwhe family in Belgium.

    Or just ask the victims of the Argentinian child sex predator “Rev.” Grassi, defended by “his friend” then-Archbishop Bergoglio, former head of the Aregentine Bishops Conference.

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