Libanori wrote Sunday’s letter to fellow priests after a remarkable week in which Pope Francis’ Jesuits acknowledged that Rupnik, an artist whose mosaics beautify churches and chapels across world, was expelled for committing one of the most serious crimes in the church: using the confessional to hear confessions from a woman with whom he had sex.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sexual abuse cases, announced the excommunication in May 2020 but lifted the order that same month and then refused to prosecute him a year later. That was when nine women made other related allegations. The congregation, led by Jesuits, said the cases were too old to prosecute.
Libanori, himself a Jesuit, discovered the stories of women when he was sent by the Vatican in 2019 to conduct an investigation into their struggling community in Slovenia amid the There are complaints about their current leader.
Slovene Rupnik helped found the Loyola Community of consecrated women in the 1980s, but was ordered to leave in 1993 for reasons that now appear to be related to allegations that he sexually and mentally abused the women under his mental care there.
Upon learning of the claims, Libanori urged the women to file a formal complaint with the Vatican, leading to the 2021 case finally being shelved, arguing it was too old to prosecute.
Despite his early exile from Slovenia, Rupnik retained a number of supporters, and a group of women followed him to Rome, where he founded a hugely successful artistic and cultural research center – China center Aletti, which has its own publishing house, Lipa Editions. Rupnik still has a strong network of supporters, some of whom have sought to discredit Slovenian accusers by questioning their mental health, according to a letter. other from Lebanon.
“It is foolish to think of reducing responsibility and mitigating evil by firing people who complain with brief judgments about their mental health or worse, their severity, ” Libanori wrote in a letter dated December 4 to members of the Slovene community. “If anything, this makes the responsibility of those who have taken advantage of them more serious.”
The Rupnik scandal highlighted weakness in the Vatican’s abuse policy regarding the mental and sexual abuse of adult women, and how powerful priests can often count on high-level support even after credible accusations are made against them given.
Libanori’s correspondence proves the same play used by other accused priests – Pastor Marcial Maciel and former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick for example — people who have sought to discredit their accusers for decades by claiming they are unstable, wanting to hurt them or the church, or simply spreading “slander” slander.
Libanori, who is also the auxiliary bishop of Rome, sought to set the record right in a letter to Italian priests. While saying that Rupnik deserves God’s love and mercy, Libanori said his victims deserve to be trusted, that the full truth must still be exposed and Rupnik’s defenders must step go up.
Libanori writes: “The hurt and offended, who have seen their lives ruined by evil and complicit silence, have the right to have their dignity restored even when everything came to light. “Our Church has a duty to take conscience seriously, and those in charge must acknowledge that and humbly ask the world for forgiveness for the scandal.”
For their part, the Jesuits are ask any other potential victims to go forward with the claim.
The Rupnik case appears to be yet another example of a charismatic religious leader who helped found a new religious community, only to be later accused of abusing those under him. Pope Francis has suppressed about the unchecked explosion of such communities that flourished after Vatican II and gained favor under Saint John Paul II.
Francis has conducted countless investigations into individual communities, imposing outside leadership on them to implement reforms while implementing comprehensive time limit on managerial positions in lay movements to try to prevent the formation of cults of personality.