22 February 2023, The Tablet

Jesuits report further allegations against Rupnik

The Society of Jesus has placed further restrictions on Marko Rupnik, banning him from all public artistic activities.

Jesuits report further allegations against Rupnik

Marko Rupnik SJ, pictured in 2020.

The Society of Jesus has reported new allegations of abuse over 30 years by the Jesuit artist Fr Marko Rupnik, and has outlined the next stage of disciplinary action against him.

In a statement published on Tuesday, the society said that the contact team it had established in December, following damaging revelations about its handling of complaints against Rupnik, had received further testimonies with a “very high” degree of credibility.

These spanned the mid-1980s to 2018 and included cases of spiritual, psychological and sexual abuse of individuals in personal relationships with Rupnik and others who encountered him in institutions and the Centro Alleti (an international community of artists and theologians in Rome).

Rupnik had declined invitations to speak to the contact team himself, the statement said.

It added that the “nature of the complaints received tends to exclude criminal relevance, before the Italian judicial authorities, of Fr Rupnik’s behaviour”.

“However, the relevance of these from a canonical point of view and concerning his life and his religious and priestly obligations is quite different,” it said.

The statement notes that no statute of limitations applies to the canonical disciplinary proceedings which it details.

Any suspicion of an abuse of the sacrament of confession must be referred to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has exclusive authority in these cases. In 2019, Rupnik had his ministry restricted after absolving a woman of engaging in sexual activity with him – a crime which incurs automatic excommunication.

However, it emerged last year that the Vatican and the Society of Jesus had failed to pursue investigations into further complaints, as they fell outside the statute of limitations for criminal cases.

For allegations that fall within the authority of the order, a superior can impose further ministerial restrictions as well as various means of dismissal.

Fr Johan Verschueren SJ, the delegate of the Jesuit superior general, confirmed that he would begin an internal procedure within the society, to include Rupnik’s own testimony, as part of “measures which ensure that situations like these do not occur [again]”.

The statement added that “as a precautionary measure, [the society] has tightened restrictions on him by forbidding him from any public artistic exercise, especially in religious buildings”.

Fr Verschueren said that he felt “the duty to address seriously this case and other similar cases that have arisen and are still present, out of respect and protection of the truth and justice for all parties involved”.

He continued: “We want to have before us the clear possibility of a path that pursues the full recognition of the truth of the facts by those responsible and a path of justice for the wrong done.”

In his interview with the Associated Press last month, Pope Francis denied any personal involvement in Rupnik’s case in 2019, saying that his role was strictly procedural

He said he felt it was best for the case to “continue with the normal court, because, if not, procedural paths are divided and everything gets muddled”.

“So I had nothing to do with this,” he added.

Francis expressed his shock at Rupnik’s conduct: “For me, it was a surprise, really. This person, an artist of this level, for me was a great surprise, a wound.”

He also emphasised the importance of transparency in Church proceedings.

“It’s what I want. And with transparency comes a very nice thing, which is shame. Shame is grace.”


Additional reporting by CNA.

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