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A court in Argentina has convicted two Catholic priests of sexually abusing deaf children at a now shuttered school in Argentina.

Mr. Corradi, 83, was sentenced to 42 years in prison, and another priest, the Rev. Horacio Hugo Corbacho Blanck, 59, of Argentina, was sentenced to 45 years in prison. A former gardener at the school, Armando Ramón Gómez Bravo, 49, of Argentina, received a sentence of 18 years.

The three defendants had each faced numerous charges and had been in prison or under house arrest since the allegations came to light three years ago. Mr. Corbacho was the only one of the three to testify; he denied the charges, and the other two defendants did not testify, according to Gustavo Stroppiana, the prosecutor in the case.

According to court testimony, the sexual abuse occurred between the years 2005 and 2016.  Pope Francis knew about the abuse as early as 2014 but did not act until after their arrest in 2017.

A Washington Post investigation this year found years of church inaction in the case of at least one of the priests convicted Monday in the abuse of male and female students at the Antonio Provolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children in the western Argentine city of Luján de Cuyo between 2004 and 2016.

Another case from Argentina involves someone Pope Francis himself elevated to the episcopacy.  An Argentine prosecutor has requested international assistance in the capture of a senior Catholic prelate, Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, who is accused of criminal sexual misconduct with seminarians in his native Argentina, and whose last known address was in Vatican City.

According to the Catholic Herald, “The details and timeline of the Zanchetta case are complex, but the bones of the story are that Pope Francis appointed Zanchetta, with whom he had served at the bishops’ conference of Argentina for several years, to the diocese of Orán in 2013. Francis had received complaints about Zanchetta, backed by documentary evidence including pornographic images involving “young people” and compromising photographs of Zanchetta himself, as early as 2015. In the face of that evidence, Francis summoned Zanchettaand asked for an account. Zanchetta said his phone had been hacked, and that the rumours regarding his behaviour came from quarters ill-disposed to the Pope.

Short version: Francis accepted Zanchetta’s story and sent him home to continue governing the Church in Orán. Two years and several complaints later, Francis told him to resign, then sent him for several a three months’ mental health evaluation, before appointing him to a specially created position in the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA, roughly the Vatican’s central bank): the office of “assessor’ to the APSA, which did not exist until Francis decided Zanchettawas too valuable to let go.”

This from a Pope who publicly proclaims a zero tolerance policy concerning sexual abuse.  The Catholic Herald correctly writes, “For the moment, there is one cleric who matters more than any other, indeed all the others taken together: Pope Francis, who did not create the crisis that has engulfed the Church, but owns the Zanchetta affair from start to finish.”

The sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is not over because the rot and corruption starts from the top.  Nothing has changed or will change until church leadership is changed permanently.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Eric Bonetti

    The news that the church has turned a blind eye to abuse should come as no surprise. Time and again we see evidence that this is the modus operandi for most churches—put the reputation of the organization first, and the wellbeing of the people second. Indeed, that is my own experience with the supposedly progressive Episcopal church—it will do almost anything in its power to avoid actually calling abusive clergy to account.

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