VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis has asked the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith to “review” the case of alleged serial abuser Father Marko Rupnik, the Vatican said in a new statement, days after outrage spread through the Church when news broke of Rupnik’s incardination into a new diocese.
In a brief message issued October 27, the Holy See Press Office issued one of the only interventions which has been officially made by the Vatican on the case of Fr. Rupnik since news of his alleged abuses broke just under a year ago.
RUPNIK UPDATE: After uproar over news that Fr Marko Rupnik is incardinated in a Slovenian diocese, #PopeFrancis now issues statement saying @TutelaMinorum warned of “serious problems” in case, & he’s asked CDF to lift the statute of limitations to allow “a process to take place” pic.twitter.com/J5y2oXFATB
— Michael Haynes 🇻🇦 (@MLJHaynes) October 27, 2023
The statement read in full:
In September the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors brought to the Pope’s attention that there were serious problems in the handling of the Fr. Marko Rupnik case and lack of outreach to victims. Consequently the Holy Father asked the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith to review the case, and decided to lift the statute of limitations to allow a process to take place.
The Pope is firmly convinced that if there is one thing the Church must learn from the Synod it is to listen attentively and compassionately to those who are suffering, especially those who feel marginalized from the Church.
The Vatican’s statement does not reveal when the Pope instructed the Dicastery (formerly Congregation) for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) to “review the case.”
A representative for the diocese of Koper told LifeSiteNews that Rupnik’s request to join the diocese was approved “on the basis of the fact that Rupnik had not been sentenced to any judicial sentence.”
The Vatican statement’s release comes just two days after news broke on Wednesday that Rupnik had been incardinated into the Diocese of Koper in his native Slovenia at the end of August, after he requested to join the diocese.
With the Vatican’s attempt at pouring water on the flames of media scrutiny taking the form of a statement, it is possible that Pope Francis only made his request to the DDF after October 25.
Rupnik was automatically excommunicated by the Vatican in 2020 after the DDF unanimously ruled he was guilty of absolving one of his sexual accomplices.
Separately, Rupnik has been accused of psychologically and sexually abusing religious sisters in the Loyola Community, an order that he himself was a co-founder. The abuse is alleged to have taken place against at least 21 of the 40-strong Loyola Community of religious women, which he co-founded in his native Slovenia. A further 15 alleged victims have come forward in the past ten months.
The Jesuits compiled a 150-page dossier of reported instances of abuse that Rupnik is said to have committed. These date from 1985 to 2018, and Rupnik’s former superior, Father Johan Verschueren, S.J., stated that the credibility of the allegations against Rupnik is “very high.”
Yet, in October 2022, the DDF dropped the case against Rupnik, referencing time limitations. According to Messa in Latino, this was directly because of Pope Francis: “Despite this, it seems that, due to the Holy Father’s intervention, the process did not take place precisely because it was ‘time-barred’ [bound by the statute of limitations.]”
Speaking to the Associated Press in January, Francis stated that he “always” waived the statute of limitations in cases that deal only with minors or “vulnerable adults,” but the AP reported Francis said he otherwise would not change the normal legal proceedings.
Francis further told the AP that he had no role in deciding on Rupnik’s case, or even in how it was handled, apart from in one instance. The Pope argued he helped the case proceed by apparently stepping in to keep the “second set of accusations from the nine women with the same tribunal that had heard the first.”
Verschueren has stated that Rupnik’s actions “[tend] to exclude the criminal relevance,” thus arguing against a possible instance of abuse against minors.
One of Rupnik’s alleged victims, “Klara,” stated that Rupnik began abusing her when she was just 16. Rupnik reportedly stated this was “for her own good.” After being psychologically pressured into joining the Loyola Community, Rupnik “began to sexually exploit me as he pleased,” she said, providing explicit details of the continued abuse.
Klara echoed another alleged victim, “Anna,” in stating that Rupnik encouraged her to have “threesomes” in imitation of the Trinity, and how this would involve having to “drink his semen from a chalice at dinner.”
Rupnik has still continued to enjoy papal promotion, with Francis highlighting one of Rupnik’s pieces of art in a video message. Published online on June 1 by the Vatican, the video showed the Pope deliver brief thoughts to the 16th Marian Congress, then being held in Aperacida, and showcased an image created by the priest.
More recently, on September 18, the Diocese of Rome even attempted to rehabilitate Rupnik by casting doubt on the process of excommunication. A diocesan statement, issued as a conclusion of a canonical investigation into Rupnik’s Aletti Center, argued the center was home to “a healthy community life without particular critical issues,” even though it was a center of Rupnik’s alleged abuse.
Whether pressured by the media, the Vatican now appears to be acting in opposition to the Diocese of Rome’s report on Rupnik. The handling of the case has been marked by an apparent reneging of responsibilities by both the Vatican and the Diocese of Rome.
The diocese’s Cardinal Angelo De Donatis has even hinted at Pope Francis’ personal protection of Rupnik in a December 2022 statement, an intervention described as stating in the “curialese” fashion that “Rupnik is under the Pope’s protection.”