Who is Father Marko Rupnik, the Jesuit priest and artist accused of abuse?

Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

December 7, 2022

By CNA Staff

Father Marko Ivan Rupnik, a well-known Jesuit priest and artist, has been accused of abuse he allegedly committed in the early 1990s against at least nine consecrated women of the Loyola Community, a Slovian community co-founded by Rupnik and Sister Ivanka Hosta.

According to an official statement from the Society of Jesus, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith received a complaint against the Slovenian priest and requested that a preliminary investigation be launched.

The investigation was carried out by a Dominican religious who heard the testimony of several people.

During the preliminary investigation, precautionary measures were taken against Rupnik, such as the prohibition of “exercising the sacrament of confession, spiritual direction, and giving the Spiritual Exercises,” according to the official statement released in Italian by the Society of Jesus on Dec. 2. 

The Provincial of the Jesuits in Slovenia explained that the results of this investigation were delivered to the dicastery of the Holy See but that the Vatican declined in October to carry out a canonical process due to the statute of limitations, the order said. The complaint did not include minors.

Despite this, the precautionary measures imposed during the previous investigation remain in force, but now as “administrative measures.”

Who is Marko Rupnik?

Rupnik, in addition to being a priest, is the founder of the Aletti Spiritual Art Workshop, responsible for numerous religious works around the world.

During his youth, Rupnik studied at the School of Fine Arts in Rome and at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he earned a doctorate with a thesis on the theological meaning of modern art in the light of Russian theology.

In 1996, Pope John Paul II entrusted him with the renovation of the mosaic in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

Three years later, Pope John Paul II presided over the dedication rite of this chapel where Rupnik and his team restored the Wall of the Incarnation, the Wall of Ascension and Pentecost, and the Wall of the Parousia.

In February 2011, the Aletti Center, directed by Rupnik, renovated the main chapel inside the Spanish Bishops’ Conference building in Madrid.

Also in Madrid, the Slovenian priest decorated the main sacristy, the chapter house, and the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in the Cathedral of Santa María la Real de Almudena.

During the presentation of this work, Rupnik was praised, mentioning that his “motto is to evangelize through beauty.”

Rupnik’s studio is also responsible for the wall of the main altar of the Shrine of the Holy Trinity in Fátima, Portugal, located opposite the site of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

In Italy, Rupnik designed the ramp and crypt of the lower Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina in San Giovanni Rotondo, where thousands of faithful Catholics come to venerate the saint who bore the stigmata.

Some other notable works by Rupnik and his studio around the world are the Chapel of the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary in Italy; the Shrine of the Cave in Manresa, Spain, where the artist painted 90 faces of biblical figures; the Church of the Virgin of the Southern Cross in Australia; and the Chapel of the Holy Family of the Knights of Columbus at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.

The Jesuit priest is the author of the logo for the Jubilee of Mercy called by Pope Francis from Dec. 8, 2015, to Nov. 20, 2016.

Rupnik was also commissioned to create the official image for the Tenth World Meeting of Families that took place in Rome from June 22 to 26. 

A Lenten sermon in the Vatican 

In March 2020, Rupnik gave the first Lenten sermon for the pope and the Roman Curia at the Vatican.

During the preaching, the Jesuit priest stressed that “we are called to a continuous conversion” and that God “manifests himself in this world through our presence.”

That same year, the Vatican appointed Bishop Daniel Libanori, SJ, as commissioner of the Loyola Community, to which the nine women alleged victims of Rupnik belong.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.