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    Pope Francis views his weekly general gathering in the Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019.( AP Photo/ Andrew Medichini)

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    People gather in St. Peter’s Square to attend a blessing by Pope Francis during the Angelus noon prayer he recited from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019.( AP Photo/ Andrew Medichini)

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina- The Vatican has confirmed that an Argentine bishop, who resigned suddenly in 2017 for stated health intellects and then territory a top administrative position at the Holy See, is under preliminary investigation after priests accused him of sexual abuse and other misconduct.

    In a statement to The Associated Press, Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti stressed that the allegations against Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta merely emerged in recent months, nearly a year after Pope Francis created the new slot for him as “assessor” of the Holy See’s power of financial administration.

    At the time of his July 2017 abdication, Zanchetta had only questioned Francis to let him leave the northern Argentine diocese of Oran because he had difficult relations with its priests and was “unable to govern the clergy, ” Gisotti said. Pending the preliminary investigated by allegations of sexual abuse currently underway in Argentina, the 54 -year-old Zanchetta will abstain from work at the Vatican, he said.

    But the instance could become yet another question for Francis, who is already battling to income trust from the Catholic flock over his handling of sexuality abuse and sex misbehavior, stemming including with regard to from the scandal of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Francis’ standing would take another hit if he personally intervened to help out a bishop from his native Argentina — determining a job for him during a Vatican hiring hold-down — and “the mens” later turned out to have plausible allegations regarding mismanagement against him.

    Zanchetta’s hurried departure from Oran on July 29, 2017 was mired in whodunit. He didn’t celebrate a departing Mass, as might be expected, and he issued a cryptic testimony saying he had been suffering a “health problem” for some time, has only just been returned from the Vatican where he presented his resignation to Francis, and needed to leave immediately for treatment.

    A statement issued the same day from his vicar general said Zanchetta had already left Oran, a profoundly conservative and good diocese near Argentina’s northern margin with Bolivia that Zanchetta had extended since Francis realise him a bishop in 2013 in one of his first Argentine episcopal appointments. Zanchetta, the vicar said at the time, would be staying in Corrientes — several hundred kilometers( miles) away — as a client of the archbishop until Francis accepted his resignation.

    Often such procedures can take months, but the Vatican announced Francis had accepted it three days later, on Aug. 1.

    Zanchetta then disappeared from panorama until Dec. 19, 2017, when the Vatican announced that he had been reputation assessor of APSA, the power that organizes the Vatican’s immense real estate and other financial comprises. The appointment immediately heightened eyebrows, but Zanchetta appeared however to have settled in well at APSA, and Gisotti said Francis appointed him because he had an fixed capability for administrative management.

    It wasn’t immediately clear what Zanchetta’s health problems were at the time of his resignation, but by all indications there used grave problems with his leader and schisms within the diocesan clergy.

    “The reason for his abdication is is in relation to his difficulty in handling relations with the diocesan clergy, some of which were very tense, ” Gisotti said. “At the time of his resignation there were accusations against him of authoritarianism, but there were no the allegations of sexual abuse against him.”

    Zanchetta expended a period of time in Spain before meeting APSA.

    The charges were leveled internally in recent months, Gisotti said, and last week the state newspaper in Salta, El Tribuno, reported that three pastors had fetched accusations against him to the Vatican’s ambassador, or nuncio, in Buenos Aires. The newspaper said the priests had lodged accusations of abuse of power, economic abuse and sexual abuse inside the seminary.

    It wasn’t immediately clear how Zanchetta responded to the accusations.

    The current bishop of Oran, which exist in Salta province, is still accumulating ground and information and will send it to the Vatican, Gisotti said. If the allegations are deemed credible, the example will be sent to Francis’ special committee for bishops — an ad hoc group of canon lawyers who have been examining allegations regarding misbehaviour against bishops.

    The issue of sexual abuse within seminaries has risen to the forefront in the scandal over McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington. Francis removed McCarrick as a cardinal in July after a U.S. religion investigation was decided that an allegation that he fondled an altar boy in the 1970 s was credible. After the charge grew public, various former seminarians came forward to report they had been abused or harassed by McCarrick and pressured to sleep with him.

    Francis became implicated in the McCarrick scandal after a former Vatican ambassador accused him of knowing of McCarrick’s penchant for seminarians, and rehabilitating him regardless from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI. Francis hasn’t responded.

    Zanchetta had opened his own school in Oran in 2016 with six seminarians. Harmonizing to El Tribuno, the St. John XXIII seminary is due to close soon.

    The diocese hasn’t responded to questions about Zanchetta’s departure or the status of the investigation against him. It has, nonetheless, issued a statement responding to media reports that the priests who lodged grievances against Zanchetta had suffered retaliation. The brand-new bishop of Oran said the pastors had been transferred to respond to the pastoral the requirement of the faithful.

    “Knowing the gravity of all types of abuse, the bishop is available to anyone who would like to present a complaint to start the corresponding procedure for canonical justice, while withdrawing the interests of all victims of abuse to seek everyday justice, ” via civil authorities, the statement said.


    Nicole Winfield reported from San Vigilio, Italy.

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