Imprisoned bishop close to Pope Francis released to private clinic for treatment


ROME- Argentinian bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, who is serving a four-year and six-month prison sentence for sexually abusing two seminarians, was released from prison to be hospitalized in a private clinic, apparently due to high blood pressure.

In mid-April, the former bishop of Oran, in the province of Salta, in the north of Argentina, had asked for house arrest because of alleged health problems. The court has not yet ruled on this request.

However, on Friday, he was hospitalized in a private clinic, on the orders of his personal doctor.

Zanchetta’s new lawyer, Dario Palmier, said the prelate suffers from hypertension and a “very delicate kidney disease. It’s a disease related to his venous system. He got the diagnosis in Rome.

“The truth is that it could collapse at any moment,” he told the local newspaper. Salta/12.

The lawyer also said that more than a month ago, Zanchetta’s defense team asked the bishop emeritus to serve his prison sentence under house arrest, saying the prison had rapidly deteriorated his health. of the prelate. He also said that “medical examinations take a long time”.

Palmier added that they are awaiting the decision of the Court of Appeals on their appeal of Bishop’s conviction.

The defense attorney also confirmed that the place proposed for the bishop to be placed under house arrest is the Nuestra Señora del Valle monastery, in Oran, which belongs to the Franciscan nuns of the Order of the Immaculate Conception.

A few days before his hospitalization, the bishop was transferred to a public hospital for a hypertensive crisis, but he was treated and sent back to prison. On Friday, he again said he was sick. His defense team had him examined by a private doctor, who requested that he be hospitalized in a private health centre.

The court that will have to rule on his house arrest is the same that initially found him guilty of the crime of “simple sexual abuse aggravated by the fact that it was committed by a recognized religious minister”.

Zanchetta often boasted of his friendship with Pope Francis, who believed the bishop claimed he was being framed when the allegations were first made against him.

Zanchetta was appointed bishop and appointed to Oran by Francis in 2013, shortly after the Argentine pontiff took office. The two men served together in the country’s episcopal conference.

Zanchetta quit at the age of 53 in 2017, citing “health reasons”. A few months later, Francis appointed him Assessor to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which administers the Vatican’s financial portfolio.

In 2018 it became public that Zanchetta had been accused of both sexual misconduct and financial wrongdoing, although a Vatican spokesperson insisted there were no allegations of abuse when Zanchetta was brought to Rome.

According to Pope Francis, a canonical trial against him has been opened, but so far the Vatican has not revealed any information about its own investigation into the bishop.

Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma


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