The former bishop of Oran in northwest Argentina, Gustavo Zanchetta, 54, had been working in the APSA department, a general accounting and human resources office that also manages the Vatican’s real estate holdings in Italy.
In response to reports in Argentine media, Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said in a statement that there were no allegations of sexual abuse at the time when Zanchetta began working at APSA in December 2017, roughly five months after he left Oran.
"The accusations of sexual abuse surfaced this past autumn," Gisotti said, adding that at the time of Zanchetta's resignation as bishop of Oran he had tense relationships with priests in the diocese he oversaw, who had accused him of being authoritarian.
The Vatican statement added that Zanchetta would "abstain from work" in APSA - where the Pope had created a new position for him - while a preliminary investigation ensued.
El Tribuno, a newspaper in Argentina's northern province of Salta, reported on Dec. 28 that three priests had accused Zanchetta of sexual abuse before the Vatican's ambassador in the capital, Buenos Aires. According to the newspaper, the allegations included abuse of power and mismanagement of finances.
The accusing clergy members said the abuses happened within St. John XXIII Seminary, which Zanchetta founded in Oran in 2016. The seminary is now scheduled to close.
Zanchetta’s resignation from Oran in July of 2017 was quick and riddled with mystery as he did not celebrate a farewell mass, as would have been expected, and issued a vague statement saying he had been suffering from health problems, AP reported.
The Vatican said the current bishop of Oran has gathered testimony which will be sent to the Holy See's department that oversees bishops. If the allegations are deemed credible Zanchetta will face a special tribunal.
Pope Francis, a fellow Argentine has summoned the figureheads of around 110 national Catholic bishops’ conferences as well as dozens of experts and leaders of religious orders to the Vatican to meet Feb. 21-24 for a gathering dedicated to the global crisis of clergy sexual abuse.