The Catholic Jesuits, of which Pope Francis is a member, have been rocked by claims a prominent priest abused several women, an incident that raises questions about how the Church punishes offenders. .
Father Marko Rupnik, a 68-year-old Slovenian priest and world-famous artist, was accused of abusing several women at a religious community in Ljubljana in the early 1990s, according to media reports. related to sexual and psychological violence.
The incident first appeared in the Italian media, before the Jesuits – one of the main lines of Roman Catholicism, founded in 1540 – revealed that they had punished Rupnik, rejecting him. I have the right to hear confessions.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was involved in the case but said it could not bring Rupnik to trial because the statute of limitations had expired.
The Jesuits later revealed that, in a separate case, Rupnik had also been found guilty of “removing accomplices … committing crimes against the sixth commandment” – namely, confessing someone’s sins for having sex with him.
This is a serious crime in church law, so Rupnik was automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church in May 2020. The excommunication was lifted by a Vatican decree in end of that month.
“In order to remove the excommunication, the person must admit the truth and formally repent. And Rupnik has done so,” Father Arturo Sosa, superior general of the Jesuits, told journalists earlier this month.
Asked if Pope Francis has been consulted about Rupnik’s case, Sosa said: “I don’t have a direct channel of communication with the pope.”
He added: “Before making the decision, I can imagine that the prefect of the dicastery spoke to the Holy Father. That is normal for me. But I cannot say yes or no.”
Rupnik is also a famous mosaic artist. His works adorn the chapel of the apostolic palace in the Vatican and the facade of the basilica in Lourdes.
The lawsuit against him has sent shockwaves through the Jesuit community, at a time when the Catholic Church is still grappling with outcry over clerical sexual abuse of children — and its cover-up. cover afterwards.
The Jesuits, which have 14,500 members worldwide, urged anyone else with a complaint to come forward, promising to listen “with understanding and empathy”.
The allegations of abuse against women by the Loyola Community in Slovenia were initially reported to the Vatican in 2021 and then passed on to the Jesuits.
An independent investigation in January 2022 found that “there is a case to be answered” and recommended that the Vatican bring Rupnik to justice, according to a timeline published by the Jesuits.
In October 2022, the Vatican dropped the case because it had run out of time but the Rome-based Jesuits said sanctions imposed on Rupnik during the investigation continued.
These include a ban on confession and accompanying spiritual activities, and a ban on performing public activities without permission from local superiors.
In a recent interview with Italian newspaper Domani, a 58-year-old nun claimed Rupnik pressured her to have sex with him.
She believes the priest has been “protected” by the church hierarchy and claims that all her complaints since the 1990s have gone unanswered.
Last week, the Slovenian bishops expressed “horror” and “sadness” at the incident, and condemned what had happened.
“We regret that officials failed to take the necessary measures and cover up acts of sexual and emotional violence, as well as abuses of power and authority,” they said.
When contacted by AFP, the Vatican declined to respond, while requests for comment from Rupnik went unanswered.
But behind the scenes, the case has raised questions about the Holy See’s ability to respond to allegations of abuse, especially historical ones.
Rupnik meanwhile maintained an advisory role in several departments within the Roman Curia, the government of the Vatican.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)
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