27 October 2023, The Tablet

Pope orders review of Rupnik case after outcry

by Courtney Mares, Hannah Brockhaus, CNA

The Diocese of Koper in Slovenia confirmed on 25 October that Rupnik had been incardinated in the diocese since August.

Pope orders review of Rupnik case after outcry

Pope Francis with Fr Marko Rupnik in January 2022, before revelations of abuse allegations against him.
Vatican Media / EWTN

The Vatican announced on Friday that Pope Francis has decided to lift the statute of limitations in the case of Fr Marko Rupnik, the former Jesuit priest and mosaic artist accused of serious abuses against women.

Following the revelation earlier this week that Rupnik had returned to priestly ministry in a diocese in his native Slovenia despite allegations of sexual abuse, the Holy See Press Office released a statement on 27 October saying that Pope Francis had asked for a review of Rupnik’s case.

“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,” it said.

“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 marginalised from the Church.”

The Vatican statement comes after the Diocese of Koper in Slovenia confirmed on 25 October that Rupnik had been incardinated in the diocese since August, news that sparked outrage and disappointment from many Catholics and abuse victims over the handling of the clerical sex abuse allegations. 

The local bishop accepted Rupnik’s request to be received into the diocese “on the basis of the decree on Rupnik’s dismissal from the Jesuit order” and “and on the basis of the fact that no judicial sentence had been passed on Rupnik,” according to a statement issued by diocese’s vicar general, Slavko Rebec.

The statement also cited Article 11.1 the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human, on the presumption of innocence.

“Until such time as Rupnik has been sentenced to the above-mentioned sentence, he enjoys all the rights and duties of diocesan priests,” it said.

Rupnik was dismissed by the Jesuits in June for failing to obey the directions of his superiors after being accused of spiritual, psychological, and sexual abuse spanning more than three decades

Pope Francis had a private meeting in September with a close collaborator of Rupnik, Maria Campatelli, after Campatelli published a letter defending Rupnik against “a media campaign based on defamatory and unproven accusations”.

Shortly afterwards, the Diocese of Rome released a statement praising the art and theology centre founded by Rupnik as “a healthy community.”

Former religious sisters who have accused Rupnik of abusing them responded with “bewilderment”, writing in an open letter that both the Pope’s meeting and the Diocese of Rome’s statement ridiculed their pain and showed little care for those seeking justice.

The Vatican statement was released during the last week of the nearly month-long Synod on Synodality assembly launched by Pope Francis. In a Synod press conference on 25 October, Cardinal Robert Prevost said that safeguarding had not been “a central topic at the Synod.”

Rupnik’s art decorates more than 200 churches and shrines around the world, including at Lourdes, Fatima, and the Vatican. Bishop Jean-Marc Micas of Tarbes and Lourdes has said that he is considering removing his art from the Marian shrine

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