Jesuits expel mosaic artist Father Rupnik, accused of abuse

A screen grab shows Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik, an artist and theologian, giving a Lenten meditation from the Clementine Hall at the Vatican in this March 6, 2020, file photo. Father Rupnik, whose mosaics decorate chapels in the Vatican, all over Europe, in the United States and Australia, is under restricted ministry after being accused of abusing adult nuns in Slovenia. (CNS photo)

By Cindy Wooden

ROME — The superior general of the Jesuits has expelled Father Marko Rupnik from the order, citing his “stubborn refusal” to obey measures imposed following credible accusations that he spiritually, psychologically or sexually abused some two dozen women and at least one man.

The expulsion does not immediately affect his identity as a priest although he would need to obtain permission from a bishop to exercise any kind of priestly ministry. He also has 30 days to appeal the decision.

Jesuit Father Johan Verschueren, Father Rupnik’s immediate superior in Rome, issued a declaration June 15 confirming that Father Arturo Sosa, the Jesuit superior general, had signed a decree June 9 dismissing Father Rupnik from the order and that Father Rupnik received the decree June 14.

“This was done in accordance with canon law, due to his stubborn refusal to observe the vow of obedience,” Father Verschueren said.

The Jesuits had confirmed in December that Father Rupnik, whose mosaics decorate churches and chapels at the Vatican and around the world, was operating under restrictions on his ministry because of abuse allegations and that he briefly had been excommunicated in 2020 for absolving in confession a woman with whom he had had sex. A year later, the Jesuits said, several members of a women’s religious community in Slovenia accused Father Rupnik of abuse, but the then-Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dismissed the case because the statute of limitations had expired.

The Jesuits then asked anyone who had been abused by Father Rupnik to contact their review board.

In February, Father Verschueren announced that a team of experts who handle complaints against Jesuits belonging to their international houses in Rome — Father Rupnik’s Centro Aletti is one of those houses — gave the Jesuits a “dossier regarding the numerous complaints” made against Father Rupnik concerning acts that had taken place between the mid-1980s and 2018.

With a degree of credibility that “seems to be very high,” another 14 women and one man came forward, he said.

While the Jesuits said in February they had begun an internal process that “may result in disciplinary action,” Father Verschueren said the Jesuits strengthened the restrictions on Father Rupnik’s ministry following the recommendations of the review board.

Father Rupnik already had been barred from hearing confessions, offering spiritual direction and leading retreats, and he was required to have the permission of his superior before leaving Rome, publishing articles or books or engaging in any public ministry. The additional measures prohibited him from doing any artistic work in public, and especially not in churches or chapels.

Numerous news reports indicated he violated those restrictions.

In addition, Father Verschueren said June 15, “we forced Father Marko Rupnik to change communities and accept a new mission in which we offered him one last chance as a Jesuit to come to terms with his past and to give a clear sign to the many aggrieved people who were testifying against him that he had entered a path of truth.”

“Faced with Marko Rupnik’s repeated refusal to obey this mandate, we were unfortunately left with only one solution: dismissal from the Society of Jesus,” the priest said.

Catholic News Service
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