New restrictions against Rupnik possible in light of credible abuse accusations

Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

February 21, 2023

By Hannah Brockhaus

The Society of Jesus said Tuesday it will open a new internal procedure on Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik after receiving abuse accusations with a “very high” degree of credibility against the artist.

According to a Feb. 21 statement on the Jesuit website, the accusations the religious order received span from 1985 to 2018, and include claims of spiritual, psychological, and sexual abuse, and abuse of conscience.

Rupnik, 68, has been informed of the accusations, but has refused to meet to discuss them with the order, the statement said.

The order said the internal procedure is in the beginning stages, but possible results could include further restrictions on Rupnik’s ministry up to and including his dismissal from religious life.

During the internal procedure, the Slovenian priest’s ministry will remain under restrictions, the Society of Jesus said. Going forward, Rupnik also is barred from performing any public artistic activity, especially in religious environments.

In mid-December, the Jesuits invited any alleged victims of Rupnik to contact their investigative team.

Rupnik’s superior, Jesuit Father Johan Verscheuren, told the Associated press and La Repubblica that 14 women and one man came forward to share their stories.

“Many of these persons have no knowledge of each other and the facts narrated concern different periods,” the Jesuit statement said.

The first complaints against Rupnik became public last year in early December after Italian websites published stories with reports that Rupnik had abused consecrated women in the Loyola Community.

In the nearly three months since then, reports of alleged abuse by Rupnik with then-young women under his spiritual guidance have continued to be published, using aliases for the women’s names.

In a statement dated Dec. 2, 2022, the Jesuits said the order had put Rupnik under restrictions for a complaint received in 2021.

The Jesuits later confirmed that Rupnik had incurred an automatic or “latae sententiae” excommunication for absolving an accomplice in confession of a sin against the Sixth Commandment. The excommunication was lifted by the Vatican in May 2020, the same month it had been officially declared.

According to a timeline published by the Jesuits in December 2022, the order received the first allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Rupnik in October 2018. At least one other allegation was received by the order in 2021.

Rupnik has been ordered not to leave Lazio, the Italian region where Rome is located. He also cannot hear confessions, give spiritual direction, or lead the Ignatian spiritual exercises. He also is prohibited from engaging in public activities without the permission of his superior.

Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency’s senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.