Rome Newsroom, Oct 26, 2023 / 13:00 pm (CNA).
The news of Father Marko Rupnik’s return to priestly ministry despite having been accused of sexual abuse interrupted the bishops’ Synod on Synodality as it was completing its final week of meetings.
The Society of Jesus had dismissed the Jesuit priest and artist last June after admitting to knowing of abuse accusations against Rupnik for years.
Here’s a timeline of known facts about what the Jesuits knew and when they knew it in the Father Rupnik case, what actions the order took, and how he was returned to priestly ministry.
October: Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, Rupnik’s superior, receives allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Rupnik, and an allegation that Rupnik gave absolution in confession to an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment. A preliminary investigation is set up.
May: The 2018 allegations are deemed credible; a file is sent to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
June: Precautionary restrictions are imposed on Rupnik by his superior, Father Guerrero. What the specific restrictions were is currently unknown.
July: The CDF asks Father Arturo Sosa, the Jesuits’ superior general, to set up a penal administrative process for the Rupnik accusations. Sosa appoints a delegate and two assessors who are not part of the order.
January: The delegate and assessors assembled by Sosa unanimously find that Rupnik did commit the canonical crime of absolution of an accomplice. The order knows that Rupnik had incurred an automatic excommunication for that crime.
May: The CDF also formally declares the excommunicable act (the absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment) happened and that Rupnik is in an excommunicated status. The excommunication is lifted by CDF decree later the same month. Rupnik ceases to be director of the art and theological center he founded in Rome, the Centro Aletti, and administrative restrictions are imposed for three years.
October: Bishop Daniele Libanori, SJ, an auxiliary bishop of Rome, is appointed extraordinary commissioner of the Loyola Community following a canonical visit that identified governance problems in the religious institute.
Libanori, in conversations with current and former members of the Loyola Community in early 2021, uncovers allegations of abuse against Rupnik, who had split from the institute in 1993 after co-founding the community with current head Sister Ivanka Hosta in the late 1980s. Libanori, according to the Associated Press, urges the women to file their complaints with the Vatican.
June: The CDF contacts the Jesuit general curia about allegations concerning Rupnik and some members of the Loyola Community.
July: Sosa asks Father Johan Verschueren, who succeeded Guerrero in January 2020 as Rupnik’s superior, to set up a preliminary investigation into the allegations with a person outside the Jesuits.
January: An investigation concludes that there was enough evidence for a case; the results are sent to the CDF with a recommendation for a penal process. Pope Francis has a meeting with Rupnik at the Vatican on Jan. 3.
February: Verschueren imposes new, unspecified restrictions on Rupnik’s ministry.
October: The CDF (now called the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith) says the statute of limitations has expired on the alleged criminal acts and there can be no trial. Rupnik’s ministry continues to be under restrictions.
December: Sometime during this month, Verschueren imposes new restrictions on Rupnik. On Dec. 18, the Jesuits publish a statement asking anyone who has suffered abuse to contact them to lodge a new complaint or to further discuss any complaints that were already made. The statement also includes a basic timeline of when the Jesuits learned of accusations against Rupnik and what actions were taken.
On Dec. 17, Verschueren tells the National Catholic Register that Rupnik’s early restrictions were to “avoid private, in-depth spiritual contacts with persons, forbidden to confess women, and to give spiritual direction to women specifically in the context of Centro Aletti. In 2020, these restrictions were widened geographically to include anywhere.” In further comments to the Register on Dec. 20, Verchueren says Rupnik had been able to continue certain public activities while under restrictions because “a few exceptions” were made for him. “The local superior had the right to allow exceptions,” Verschueren said, and “could judge whether they were opportune or not.” He added: “I admit that this did not work well. We made these rules ‘absolute’ after complaints reached my ears.”
January: In statements to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Verschueren says he asked Rupnik to not leave Lazio, the Italian region where Rome is located, during ongoing preliminary investigations.
February: The Society of Jesus says it will open a new internal procedure on Rupnik after receiving 15 abuse accusations with a “very high” degree of credibility.
A more detailed timeline of the developments in the Rupnik case, including notes on his public activities while under restrictions, can be read here.
June: Rupnik is dismissed from the Jesuits due to his “stubborn refusal to observe the vow of obedience.”
“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,” the order says in a June 15 statement.
August: Rupnik is accepted for priestly ministry in the Diocese of Koper in his native Slovenia.
October: In a statement to CNA on Oct. 25, the Diocese of Koper confirmed that Rupnik is now incardinated there, and said the local bishop accepted Rupnik’s request to be received into the diocese “on the basis of the decree on Rupnik’s dismissal from the Jesuit order” and “and on the basis of the fact that no judicial sentence had been passed on Rupnik.”
This article was first published on Feb. 26, 2023 and updated on Oct. 26, 2023.