D.C. Knights’ council: Remove Rupnik art from shrine, apologize to abuse victims

Detroit Catholic [Archdiocese of Detroit MI]

April 19, 2024

By Gina Christian

A Knights of Columbus council has called for the removal of artwork by Father Marko Rupnik at a national shrine, following the disgraced priest’s decades-long legacy of sexual and spiritual abuse claims by multiple victims.

The Knights’ Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle Council 11302, based in Washington, reportedly adopted an April 9 resolution urging the fraternal organization’s executive leadership to remove and replace mosaics created by Father Rupnik for the St. John Paul II National Shrine, which the Knights established in the nation’s capital in 2011. The resolution was disclosed April 16 by The Pillar, which stated it had obtained a copy of the document.

The council requested that the Knights’ state and supreme councils “immediately make a public apology to survivors of Fr. Rupnik’s abuse for the Order’s continued inaction in addressing the matter of the mosaics in the Shrine.”

The Slovenian-born Father Rupnik, who was expelled from the Society of Jesus in July 2023, gained international recognition both for his liturgical art and for the numerous accusations of sexual, spiritual and psychological abuse leveled against him in the course of his career.

The priest’s mosaics have been installed in the Vatican as well as in numerous churches and religious sites throughout the world, with his work adorning the Redemptor Hominis Church and the Luminous Mysteries Chapel at the St. John Paul II National Shrine. The shrine’s website does not credit him for the mosaics, although it names sculptor Edoardo Ferrari, whose work appears in the church.

Father Rupnik — who was incardinated into the Diocese of Koper, Slovenia in October 2023 — remains on the staff of Centro Aletti, the scholarly and artistic center he founded in Rome in 1993.

OSV News is awaiting a response to its requests for comment from Father Rupnik, the Knights of Columbus headquarters and the shrine’s outreach director.

Sara Larson, executive director of the nonprofit Awake Community, a survivor support and advocacy organization, told OSV News that the resolution from the District of Columbia’s Knights council was heartening.

“I am encouraged whenever Catholics use their collective voice to speak up in solidarity with abuse survivors,” Larson said in an email to OSV News. “I hope many others will follow the example of this Knights of Columbus council by working for change in their own areas of influence.”

She added that “for many survivors and advocates, delays and indecision about removal of Rupnik’s art have become emblematic of a church culture that fails to prioritize the needs of those who have been wounded.

“It is time for the body of Christ to come together and put our words of care into concrete actions of solidarity and support,” she said.