Some consecrated women have made very serious accusations against Father Ivan Rupnik and the leadership of the Society of Jesus.
Not only a theologian but also an artist, perhaps best known for his famous mosaics. We are talking about Father Marko Ivan Rupnik, a Slovenian Jesuit, for many years director of the ‘Ezio Aletti’ Study and Research Centre.
Rupnik has realised famous artworks all over the world, such as the mosaics in the ‘Redemptoris Mater’ Chapel in the Apostolic Palace here in the Vatican, those in the basilicas of Fátima and San Giovanni Rotondo, those on the façade of the Sanctuary of Lourdes, at the Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Flowers in Bra, and again in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Real de l’Almudena in Madrid, the Chapel of the Bishopric of Tenerife in San Cristóbal de La Laguna, the crypt of the Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, the Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration in Cluj, the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II in Krakow, the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II in Washington, the Sanctuary of Madonna Ta’ Pinu in Gozo and the Mother Church of Supersano, the Church of San Pasquale in Bari.
At the moment, his work is focused on Sao Paulo, Brazil, where in the national shrine of Aparecida, the façades with mosaics designed by Rupnik are being completed. The esteem for the Slovenian priest was so high that the Pontiff in 2016, during the Jubilee of Mercy, celebrated a Holy Mass for the Aletti Centre in the Apostolic Palace.
Spiritual and physical abuse
The first accusations against the Jesuit were made back in 1995, when a consecrated woman reported that she had been plagiarised and suffered “psychological, physical and spiritual abuse”. The proceedings were opened and the woman was called to testify more than once. Appointed for this delicate task was the current auxiliary bishop of Rome for the Central Sector, Mgr. Daniele Libanori. Despite the fact that the latter has shown extreme rigour in many cases on this subject, it must be emphasised that there are two reasons why he does not seem to be the most suitable person: Firstly, he is the auxiliary bishop in charge of the clergy, and secondly, he too is a Jesuit.
The consecrated woman reports: “I am bewildered by the fact that despite the serious accusations that have been made against him and for which I have been called to testify again, Fr. Rupnik continues to give conferences around Italy and post his catecheses on YouTube”.
It is a heartfelt plea from a woman who abandoned her aspirations to follow Christ and found herself subjected to severe psychological and physical abuse. “This sad reality makes me doubt that I have not been believed. I have a legitimate need to know, I believe, after so much suffering, if the Church considers Fr Rupnik a reliable teacher,” writes the consecrated woman.
The community where these abuses were allegedly committed was commissioned in 2021, and everything was done in the utmost secrecy and silence. Some legitimate questions arise: why? Why are there realities that are commissioned with a lot of publicity, even involving the media? Perhaps because it is a Jesuit? Perhaps because, as always happens in cases of abuse of conscience, we are talking about a man who is very powerful? Father Dysmas De Lassus is very clear on this subject, in his text Rischi e derive della vita religiosa. Usually, when the abusers are people in high esteem, it is difficult for the victim to get a hearing. In this case it seems that the woman, but she is not the only one, was believed, but the measures seem to have been very timid, compared to other cases.
The woman reported that she was so traumatised that she even thought about death. “I could not imagine that the sisters involved in the abuse were so many others” she said. An immense suffering that was aggravated by the relationship of trust that saw Rupnik in the role of spiritual father and confessor of these women.
Yet, the investigation was conducted and the verdict seems to have arrived in January 2022. In fact, on 03 January 2022, the Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office reported: “The Holy Father this morning received in audience the Reverend Father Marko Ivan Rupnik, S.I.” No assignment, the words “former Director of the Aletti Centre” do not appear. The Pontiff receives Rupnik, how come? Not all abusers are received by the Pope, on the contrary, they are purposely avoided. What did Francis say to the Slovenian Jesuit?
Some in the Curia say that the Pontiff informed the Jesuit of the decision and invited him to a reserved life: no preaching, no public celebrations and a ban on confessions. But is this really the case? On 10 May 2022, Father Mark Rupnik preached a clergy retreat in Larino (Campobasso – Italy). If the Pope really asked him to do this, why does Rupnik continue his activities? The Superior General of the Society of Jesus signed a document that was also communicated to the Vicariate. What does it say?
A few questions
The accusations against the Jesuit are very heavy, alleging the most serious abuse of trust towards his penitents. Abuse, first psychological, then physical. Rupnik “forced me, with pressure and blackmail, to things that I reported punctually in the appropriate place”, said the consecrated woman. Yet the response of the members of the Society of Jesus was: to cover everything. The woman reports: “After my first complaint, nobody helped me, neither the Community, nor the Archbishop of Ljubljana then, nor the spiritual director of Fr. Rupnik with whom I spoke trying to explain what had happened. All of them, even the Jesuit superiors of Fr. Rupnik and those who became aware of the facts, decided to cover everything with a blanket of silence“. Father Hans Zollner heard about these accusations? What does he say?
“The Church started “zero tolerance” slowly, and it went on. On this, I believe the direction taken is irreversible. It is irreversible. Today this is a problem that is not discussed”
Why did no one listen to these consecrated women? Why was Father Rupnik covered up? It is the right of the accused to defend himself, it is the right of the victims to know what the results of the activity carried out by Bishop Libanori and the Congregation are. Is Rupnik innocent? Or is he guilty? If Father Rupnik is guilty, why was he not reduced to the lay state? Has Pope Francis covered up Rupnik’s abuses? In that case it would be the second time, in this Pontificate, after that of Inzoli. Bishops and priests also have the right to know what the condition of the Jesuit is, so they know whether or not to invite him to preach. “I have the right to a word of truth from the Church on the facts denounced. I am very worried that Fr. Rupnik could further harm someone” the consecrated woman said. We join this appeal.
Silere non possum
Article published on 01.12.2022