VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]
June 15, 2023
By Hannah Brockhaus
The priest and artist Father Marko Rupnik, accused of the physical and psychological abuse of numerous religious sisters, was dismissed from the Jesuits this month, according to the religious order.
The Society of Jesus said in a June 15 statement Rupnik was expelled due to his “stubborn refusal to observe the vow of obedience.”
Rupnik had been asked to change communities and “accept a new mission,” the statement said. “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.”
According to canon law, Rupnik has 30 days to appeal the dismissal after receiving the decree on June 14. The decree was issued June 9, the Jesuits said.
Father Johan Verschueren, SJ, Rupnik’s superior whose name the statement was in, said no further comments will be made until after this period has concluded.
In February, the Jesuits said they had opened a new internal procedure against Rupnik after receiving accusations against him spanning from 1985 to 2018. The “highly credible” accusations, they said, included claims of spiritual, psychological, and sexual abuse, and abuse of conscience.
The latest statement said the team investigating the accusations delivered its dossier the same month.
Rupnik’s superiors imposed certain restrictions on his ministry at the recommendation of the investigators.
The restrictions, according to the Society of Jesus, were “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 signal to the many injured people who were testifying against him to enter a path of truth.”
According to media reports in recent months, Rupnik defied these orders and others, such as the direction to remain in central Italy and to not participate in public artistic activities.
According to recent information released by the Italian newspaper Domani, Rupnik, who was also briefly excommunicated for absolving in confession an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment, traveled this June to the city of Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina and to Hvar Island in Croatia for art projects.
In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Verschueren, delegate for the Jesuits’ Interprovincial Houses and Works in Rome and the superior of the accused priest, confirmed the veracity of the information and noted that these travels are “a serious transgression of the restrictive measures imposed on Father Rupnik.”
Rupnik reportedly visited the city of Mostar as a guest of the Franciscan Order for the closing of the renovation of the church of the Friars Minor of St. Peter and St. Paul, where the Aletti Center — an art school founded by Rupnik in Rome — was in charge of decorating the vault and the walls with frescoes and a large mosaic of more than 7,500 square feet.
According to the Domani newspaper, Rupnik also traveled to Hvar Island to study the possible restoration of the chapel of the bishop’s residence at the request of Ranko Vidović, the bishop of Hvar-Brač-Vis.
In January, Verschueren asked the accused priest not to leave central Italy in order to be available “for some ongoing preliminary investigations.”
In addition, since February, Rupnik has been prohibited from any public artistic work, particularly in relation to religious structures (such as churches, institutions, oratories and chapels, and houses of retreat or spirituality).
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.