An Argentinean bishop and personal friend of Pope Francis who suddenly resigned and fled his diocese after being accused of the sexual abuse of seminarians and who now holds a high-ranking post in the Vatican, is currently participating in a private spiritual retreat with Pope Francis and other senior Vatican officials, according to an article published today in the Catholic Herald.
The Herald reports that Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, who is the former bishop of Orán, Argentina, is attending the exclusive retreat, which is being conducted for the Pope and 64 members of the Roman Curia by a Benedictine abbot at a retreat center outside of Rome. The retreat began yesterday and is scheduled to last until March 15.
The inclusion of Zanchetta in the retreat follows reports that Vatican officials, apparently including Pope Francis himself, have been aware since 2015 of well-substantiated accusations against Zanchetta of inappropriate conduct with male seminarians, as well as other forms of personal misbehavior on the part of the bishop, including his sharing naked selfies on Whatsapp showing the bishop in a posture of self-abuse.
Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti has denied it was informed of the accusations in 2015, but admits that it has known of them since autumn of last year, when it says an internal investigation was begun of Zanchetta.
In addition, prosecutors in Argentina say they have opened two criminal investigations based on accusations of sexual abuse filed against Zanchetta in the province of Salta, where Zanchetta was a bishop. (Read more from “Bishop Accused of Sexual Abuse Invited to Private Retreat With Pope Francis” HERE)