Argentina’s Most Pious Spot Also an Epicenter of Clerical Abuse Crisis

By Ines San Martin
August 13, 2019

Argentina’s northern province of Salta, known for colorful mountains, valleys, and small, picturesque towns that intertwine with exquisite wineries, is also known as the most piously Catholic province of the 23 that make up the nation.

The capital city is often referred to as Salta la linda, meaning “the beautiful,” surrounded by hills short enough that they rarely see snow, but high enough that they’re daunting even for regular hikers.

Salta was founded more or less at the same time as Buenos Aires, in the mid-to-late 16th century, and it’s home to both Argentina’s greatest example of popular religiosity and the local version of Medjugorje.

It also happens to be at the epicenter of the country’s clerical sexual abuse earthquake, because Salta is the metropolitan see of the Diocese of Oran. Gustavo Zanchetta, the former bishop, abruptly resigned his position in 2017 after being appointed by Pope Francis in 2013.

Zanchetta’s appointment caused outrage among the Catholics of his former diocese, Quilmes, in the Buenos Aires province, due to what critics charge are “innumerable cases of anti-Christian witness” from the bishop-to-be.

A few months after leaving Oran, Zanchetta reappeared in the Vatican, working at the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, the Vatican’s most important financial center, and living in the same residence as the pope. As of Jan. 4, he’s been suspended from that position, accused of sexually abusing seminarians.








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