ACI Prensa Staff, Jul 17, 2023 / 16:30 pm (CNA).
Father Johan Verschueren, a Jesuit official and the superior of Father Marko Rupnik, announced June 15 the expulsion of Rupnik from the Society of Jesus due to his “repeated refusal” to address the allegations of sexual abuse and to comply with the restrictions placed on him.
Rupnik had according to canonical norms until Friday, July 14, to appeal the decision. By not having done so, the priest, who was also briefly excommunicated for admittedly giving absolution to one of his accomplices in a sin against the Sixth Commandment, is officially out of the order.
Various media reported that the Slovenian priest would move to live in Croatia in the Diocese of Split-Makarska. ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, contacted his superior to confirm this information but did not receive a response by press time.
Rupnik, who allegedly physically and psychologically abused numerous women religious during his stay with the Loyola Community in Slovenia and also in Rome, has left the order without giving any explanation to either his superiors or the alleged victims.
Aletti Center defends Rupnik
Two days after the Jesuits’ statement announcing the priest’s dismissal, the Aletti Center — founded by Rupnik in Rome — released a letter in defense of the priest addressed to “the Friends of the Aletti Center.”
The text noted that on Jan. 21 of this year, it was Rupnik himself who presented to the Society of Jesus, “observing all the required canonical conditions, a request to leave the order.”
The letter explained that the decision of the priest accused of abusing numerous women religious was due to the fact that “trust in his superiors had collapsed ‘in toto’ after the latter had, unfortunately, repeatedly shown themselves to favor a media campaign based on defamatory and unproven accusations.”
According to the members of the artistic center, the Society of Jesus ought to have provided the press “with correct information, based on written acts and documents in their possession, which would demonstrate a truth different from that which was being published.”
In addition, the letter stated that “for the same reasons, i.e., an overriding distrust of their superiors arising from the aforementioned situation, the other Jesuits of the Aletti Center also requested an indult to leave the Society. Each is awaiting the conclusion of his own case, in order to be able to continue in the exercise of priestly ministry.”
The Holy See has not made any statement in this regard.
During a Jan. 24 AP interview, Pope Francis was asked if he had any role in deciding Rupnik’s case, to which he replied: “I had nothing to do with this” and that he was only “involved in a small process that came to the Congregation of Faith in the past.”
The Rupnik case
Rupnik is co-founder of the Loyola Community in Slovenia, which was started in the 1980s and where he reportedly abused adult women religious.
After a preliminary investigation entrusted to the Society of Jesus, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “determined that the facts in question should be considered beyond the statute of limitations and therefore closed the case at the beginning of October of this year 2022,” a Dec. 2 statement from the Jesuits said.
The superior general of the Society of Jesus, Father Arturo Sosa, confirmed on Dec. 14 that Rupnik had been excommunicated in May 2020 for having absolved one of his accomplices, a measure that was lifted that same month after he repented.
In December 2022, a former religious sister who preferred to remain anonymous recounted in detail what her “descent into hell” was like with the sexual abuse and abuse of conscience that she allegedly suffered from Rupnik.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.