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Father Rupnik, prominent Jesuit, accused of sexual abuse of nuns

December 05, 2022

Father Marko Ivan Rupnik, a Jesuit artist who founded the Centro Aletti for East-West cultural dialogue in Rome, has been accused of sexually abusing at least three nuns in Slovenia in 1992 and 1993.

The Italian publication Left has reprinted an August 2021 letter by a former nun to Pope Francis—a letter that she said has received no response.

According to an accompanying article—which relies on an anonymous source—the alleged abuse came to light after a 2019 Vatican visitation to the Slovenian religious community to which the nuns belonged. The Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith reportedly began to conduct a trial, “but then everything remained on hold for a long period between 2020 and the end of 2021.” Early in 2022, the Congregation reportedly issued its ruling, and the Society of Jesus has imposed some restrictions on his ministry.

In 1996, Pope St. John Paul II entrusted Father Rupnik with the task of directing the renovation of the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace. In 2016, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Centro Aletti to mark the center’s 25th anniversary. In 2020, Father Rupnik took the place of Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the papal household, in delivering a Friday Lenten sermon to the Pope and members of the Roman Curia.

Father Rupnik, who has taught at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Pontifical Gregorian University, and Pontifical Liturgical Institute, designed the official logo of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (2015-16). He also painted the official image of the Tenth World Meeting of Families, which was organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life and took place in June 2022. In February 2023, he is scheduled to preach spiritual exercises at the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy House of Loreto.

If true, the report of an ecclesiastical trial of Father Rupnik, and restrictions imposed on his ministry—a report which, it should be emphasized, relies on an anonymous source—raises renewed questions about Pope Francis’s commitment to transparency in high-profile abuse cases. Since September, previously undisclosed Vatican sanctions against Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo (a Nobel laureate) and Bishop Michel Santier (a French bishop who resigned for “health reasons”) have come to light.

Update (December 6, 2022): See Confirmed: Jesuits have restricted ministry of prominent member, Father Rupnik.


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