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Jesuits find accusations against Father Rupnik ‘highly credible’


Centroaletti, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Camille Dalmas - published on 02/21/23

After two months of investigation, the Society of Jesus opens an internal procedure against artist and Jesuit Marko Rupnik, accused of abuse.

The Society of Jesus will open an “internal procedure” against the Jesuit Father Marko Ivan Rupnik. The famous Slovenian artist, accused by several people of sexual and spiritual abuse, is now forbidden from exercising his artistic activity publicly in any form. The decision was announced by Father Johan Verschueren, head of the international Jesuit houses in Rome – and thus Father Rupnik’s superior – in a statement issued on February 21, 2023, after a team set up by the order investigated the affair for over two months.  

The Society of Jesus announced that its investigators had received “several new testimonies and complaints” about Father Rupnik. These people “claim to have been abused in conscience, spiritually, psychologically or sexually” by the Slovenian priest.

Without specifying the nature of the facts, the report considers their “degree of credibility” to be “very high.” In particular, the statement notes that the accusations reported are spread over more than 30 years – between the 1980s and 2018 – and were stated by many people who do not know each other. 

No criminal proceedings

The investigation found that the nature of the facts tends to exclude possible criminal proceedings, due to the statute of limitations, but is relevant from a point of view of canon law.

In view of this, the Jesuits prohibit the famous artist from “any public artistic exercise,” especially in religious structures. The Slovenian Jesuit runs a mosaic workshop in Rome, the Aletti Center, where he has designed works for churches and other places of worship around the world – for example in Lourdes, Aparecida, Fátima and the Vatican.

La Sacre Famiglia – p.Marko Ivan Rupnik
The official icon of the World Meeting of Families was a work of Rupnik

These restrictions are in addition to those already imposed: a ban on all public ministerial and sacramental activities, a ban on public communication, and a ban on leaving the Lazio region.

The Jesuits recall, however, the “exclusive competence” of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) with regards to complaints concerning crimes committed against the sacrament of confession.

Last December, the superior of the Jesuits, Father Arturo Sosa, had revealed that Father Rupnik had been excommunicated by the DDF in 2019 for acts of this type, but that the sanction had been lifted because he had made an act of penance. 

Future sanctions could include the exclusion from the Society of Jesus

The press release explains that Father Rupnik refused to meet with the team of investigators to confront the complaints but that the findings of the investigation were sent to him and the complainants.

The next step in the procedure is for Father Johan Verschueren to meet with the Slovenian priest, who will have the right to defend himself. Under canon law, the Jesuit superior could then impose further ministerial restrictions, force him to move from Rome, and even initiate a  “process of resignation from the Society of Jesus.” 

In the statement, Father Verschueren assures that the measures taken will be aimed primarily at preventing future abuses. He thanked the witnesses for agreeing to recount their experiences, “sometimes with the inner suffering of having to bring up again many painful episodes,” and called them “survivors.”

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