Ñáñez Says He’d Expelled the Pedophile Priest
The case of Walter Avanzini, ex-priest who showed sexual misconduct in the seminary but was ordained as priest, even after a hidden camera revealed his contact with adolescents and children
By Sergio Carreras
October 4, 2011
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
The Bishop of Córdoba, Carlos Ñáñez, made a statement to “the Catholic community of Córdoba” in which he claims that when he was rector of the local Major Seminary he expelled a deacon who, despite being the protagonist of a sex scandal, was ordained into the priesthood.
The issue was addressed in a La Voz del Interior report dated Sunday, September 25. The report detailed the case of Father Avelino Trecco, a priest in the city of Sacanta, who in 1982 abused and killed a teenager in Traslasierra, and the case of Walter Avanzini, who as priest of Berrotarán was recorded on a hidden camera installed by a television program. The footage showed him paying for sex with children and adolescents in the San Martín de Córdoba Plaza.
Both cases were updated by the recent publication of the book Five Priests, written by five former priests of Córdoba. The book claims that the two priests (Trecco and Avanzini) were ordained by the local Catholic Church even though they had been accused of sexually deviant behavior while enrolled in the Major Seminary.
The case directly involving Ñáñez is that of Avanzini, who was the protagonist in a scandal with another seminarian at the time that the current bishop was rector of the seminary. This newspaper sought Ñáñez’s response prior to the publication of the report, but the bishop chose to remain silent. In his statement released last Friday, Ñáñez expressed gratitude for “the expressions of solidarity and kindness” he received after "the dissemination of false accusations concerning my person and my ministry as rector of the Major Seminary.”
In somewhat imprecise language, he added in his statement that “in light of official testimonies concerning the serious incidents that had taken place and the unanimous opinions of the witnesses, I told the aforementioned seminarian, who ministered as a deacon, that he should retire immediately from the Seminary.” Ñáñez also said he informed the bishop of Río Cuarto of his “strong reservations regarding the eventual priestly ordination of the deacon.”
Ñáñez’s statement, which he referred to two days ago in his homily on occasion of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebration, reveals the existence of the Avanzini scandal, but doesn’t make clear who or whom invested Avanzini with priestly functions after Ñáñez had recommended his expulsion from the Seminary. Early on, the responsibility shifted to Moisés Blanchoud, but the former bishop of Río Cuarto denied any knowledge of the situation and returned the responsibility to Ñáñez.
Other versions say that Avanzini was ordained as priest by the now deceased Adolfo Arana, who was the next bishop of Río Cuarto. The undisputed fact is that Avanzini, who had demonstrated problematic sexual behavior, was nonetheless ordained as priest. But it didn’t end there: he was also put in charge of the principal religious school of Berrotarán, where he was in daily contact with adolescents and children.