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‘Despicable’: Slovene bishops condemn Jesuit artist’s abuse


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VATICAN CITY — Slovenia’s Catholic bishops on Thursday condemned as “despicable” an act of emotional, sexual and spiritual violence against women perpetrated by a prominent Slovenian priest, was at the center of an abuse and cover-up scandal that rocked the Vatican and the Jesuits of Pope Francis.

The Slovenian bishops’ conference broke three weeks of silence with a statement in which parishioners also expressed solidarity with the victims of Bishop Marko Ivan Rupnik and call on anyone to do harm by him or any other priest who abused his power to advance.

“It is never the fault of the victims! We are on their side,” the bishops said. “Any abuse of mental strength and authority to commit violence against subordinates is an unacceptable and condemnable act.”

The scandal involving Rupnik, a Jesuit from Slovenia whose mosaics decorate churches and chapels around the globe, broke out earlier this month when Italian blogs and websites reported several women. women allege that Rupnik sexually abused them, mentally and psychologically.

The Jesuits initially insisted there was a single charge against him in 2021 that the Vatican’s sexual abuse office dropped because it was too old to prosecute. Just under the question Did the Jesuits admit that Rupnik had been convicted and excommunicated a year earlier for one of the most serious crimes in the church – using the confessional to hear the confessions of someone he had sex.

The Jesuits also later admitted that the 2021 case actually involved the allegations of nine women.

The 2021 claim dates back to the 1990s, when Rupnik was a spiritual advisor to a community of consecrated women affiliated with the Jesuits in Slovenia. They came into the light behind the Vatican send an investigator to review complaints about how the community is being run. Upon learning of the abuse allegations, the investigator urged the women to make a formal complaint.

The Vatican’s sexual abuse office, now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, did not respond to questions about why it did not waive the statute of limitations on charges in 2021, as usual. especially with Rupnik’s conviction and the Vatican’s temporary excommunication last year.

Similarly, a Vatican spokesman did not respond to questions about whether Francis knew anything about the claims regarding his Jesuit friend or whether he interfered. The Pope and Rupnik last met on January 3.

In Thursday’s statement, published in three languages, the Slovene bishops said that although the Vatican’s sex crimes office determined the 2021 charges were too old to prosecute, they “always deserve to be prosecuted.” reprimand and demand condemnation”.

The case exposed a number of unpleasant issues facing the Holy See, chief among them the Holy See’s unwillingness to consider clerics. sexual and mental misconduct against adult women as a crime to be punished. Instead, the Vatican has long considered any sexual activity between adults as consensual and merely a violation of priestly chastity, without considering whether there was an abuse of power involved. harm the victim or not.

In addition, the case has raised questions about whether Rupnik was endowed with his artistic talent and status as a prominent Jesuit, sought after at a time when papal orders are having an impact. in the Holy See or not. The Vatican office handling his case is headed by a Jesuit minister, has a Jesuit sex-crime prosecutor, and a former No. 2 figure living in Rupnik’s Jesuit community in Rome.

And it has raised questions about the adequacy of canonical penalties: Many priests have been completely removed from office for seemingly lesser crimes. However, Rupnik was allowed to continue to preach, celebrate Mass and most importantly create his art even after his excommunication, albeit temporarily.

Even the bishops of Slovene seem to want to separate Rupnik’s crimes from his good deeds, describing him as a “brilliant artist and profound spiritual leader”.

We implore you, with this tragic realization, to distinguish his unacceptable and reprehensible actions from his extraordinary artistic and spiritual achievements in the field. mosaic and other fields.

Francis has not responded in any public or specific way to the revelations, which also alludes to Rupnik’s supporters, who have sought to discredit his accusers by placing questions about their mental health. But Francis seems to have addressed the issues it raised in general on Thursday, in his own time. Christmas wishes every year to Vatican officials.

“Besides violence with weapons, there is also verbal violence, psychological violence, violence due to abuse of power, violence implicitly due to gossip,” he said. “May none of us profit from our position and role to put others down.”

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