VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) –– The Jesuits have imposed further restrictions on Father Marko Ivan Rupnik S.J. as accusations of his alleged abuse are deemed highly credible, with 15 fresh allegations of abuse having been made against him. The Slovenian priest is described as not co-operating with the Jesuit’s internal proceedings.
As LifeSiteNews has extensively reported – HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE – 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 religious community was founded by a nun to whom Rupnik was both a friend and a “spiritual father.”
Rupnik was also separately automatically excommunicated and found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (CDF) ecclesiastical court of absolving in confession a woman with whom he had sexual relations.
In the new statement, Fr. Johan Verschueren, delegate of Jesuit Superior Fr. General Arturo Sosa and Rupnik’s superior, declared that the credibility of Rupnik’s alleged abuse was deemed to be “very high.”
He described the abuse as being “in conscience, spiritually, psychologically or sexually,” a notable aspect since previously Rupnik had only been accused of psychological and sexual abuse.
The Jesuit Referral Team for Complaint Cases has compiled a 150-page dossier of reported instances of abuse which Rupnik is said to have committed. These date from 1985 to 2018.
This team, which had been investigating the number of allegations made against Rupnik, had been unable to meet with Rupnik about the accusations, as the priest appears to have declined to assist in the proceedings.
Verschueren stated that the allegations received about Rupnik “tend to exclude the criminal relevance, before the Italian judicial authority, of Father Rupnik’s behavior.” However, while not perhaps civilly criminal, the alleged instances would still have particular relevance from a canonical aspect and “concerning his religious and priestly life and responsibility,” Verschueren wrote.
He declared that he would instigate an “internal procedure” against Rupnik, during which the accused priest “can give his version of the facts.” This may lead to disciplinary action, stated Verschueren.
Preempting the entire upcoming procedure, Verschueren announced that the existing restrictions on Rupnik have been tightened to now include a ban on any public artistic actions, “especially towards religious facilities (such as churches, institutions, oratories and chapels, exercise or spirituality houses).”
Since 2019, Rupnik has been subject to restrictions on his public ministry and movement. They include having to “avoid private, in-depth spiritual contacts with persons” and being “forbidden to confess women, and to give spiritual direction to women.” Verschueren added in the latest statement that the restrictions include a “ban on public communication, ban on leaving the Lazio Region.”
As already noted by Verschueren, Rupnik had rejected previous opportunities to assist the inquiries being made into his actions. The Slovenian has however reportedly been “informed of the nature and content of the allegations, and as well, was informed of the decision made.”
Speaking to the Associated Press prior to releasing the February 21 statement, Verschueren revealed that in light of the Order’s call for any further alleged victims, 15 more people have made accusations of abuse against Rupnik.
These included 14 women and 1 man, and it was their fresh testimony which led to the renewal of the pre-existing restrictions on Rupnik’s ministry, said Verschueren.
However, the new restrictions imposed on Rupnik’s artwork revealed that his art is linked to his alleged instances of abuse, according to Verschueren’s comments to the AP. “I only take measures when there are reasons for risk,” stated Rupnik’s superior.
Yet he stopped short of finding issue with the artwork itself, saying that “I asked myself, Johan, is it hard to pray before these mosaics? My response is no. In a way, I’ve been able to separate the art from the artist.”
The disgraced Jesuit priest’s artwork is found in numerous locations across the world, including:
- Vatican City
- Rome, the Jesuit’s headquarters
While Rupnik had previously absolved a sexual accomplice in confession, for which he had been pronounced excommunicated by the CDF, Verschueren stated that the fresh allegations did not involve the sacraments, meaning that the CDF would not be involved in the upcoming investigation.
This, he told the AP, made him “relieved.”
Additionally, Rupnik’s writings have been subject to scrutiny as part of the investigations into the priest. According to Verschueren, a theologian found “transgressive” issues with Rupnik’s conferences on sexuality from the 1980s and 1990s. The theologian said the text “gave an opening to legitimize certain actions that aren’t correct.”
Another investigation, but to what end?
The Jesuit’s own investigation into Rupnik comes after the Vatican has twice refused to take action against the priest. Following allegations that Rupnik had absolved a sexual accomplice of his in confession, the Jesuits began a “preliminary investigation” in October 2018. In May 2019 the findings were sent to the CDF, which deemed the allegations “credible.”
Verschueren then imposed restrictions upon Rupnik in June 2019, and the Order was then asked by the CDF to establish a “penal administrative process.” January 2020 saw the judges “unanimously” declared “that there was indeed absolution of an accomplice,” according to the Jesuit’s timeline.
The CDF excommunicated Rupnik in May 2020, not before he had delivered a homily to the Papal household in March the same year.
As for the alleged abuse of nuns, upon the CDF contacting the Jesuits about the allegations in June 2021, an external investigation was established, led by Rupnik’s fellow Jesuit Daniele Libanori, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rome. Yet, despite the investigation finding that there was a “case to answer,” only six months later, the CDF dropped the case, citing the statute of limitations.
Today’s announcement from the Jesuits appears to be, in essence, stating that yet another investigation will be commenced into Rupnik’s actions.
Yet numerous questions remain about the case, including why the priest was allowed considerable public prominence in various projects and events despite his ongoing investigations.
Pope Francis has been accused of interceding on behalf of his fellow Jesuit, even lifting the excommunication within a “few hours” – an accusation the Pope has denied.
Francis was also accused of ignoring letters from nuns Rupnik abused in the religious community.
In a recent interview, Bishop Libanori only added to the number of unanswered questions surrounding the case, when he stated that he did not have “any information” to give as to why the CDF acted the way it did. When asked how he explained the CDF’s “conclusions,” Libanori replied: “I don’t have any information to answer your question, much less to pass judgment. I know what the newspapers reported, as far as they were able to reconstruct the case with authentic documents.”
According to Verschueren, any penalty which might be imposed upon Rupnik depends on how the priest himself responds to the next investigation. The AP wrote that Verschueren was “expressing hope that he [Rupnik] assumes responsibility for his actions and agrees to undergo psychological therapy.”
The Rupnik case thus rumbles on.