The Pope’s Vicar for Rome is seeking the full truth about Jesuit abuse

ROME (AP) – The Pope’s vicar for Rome called on Friday to get the full truth about a famous Jesuit priest accused of sexually and spiritually abusing adult women and said he was considering what to do with the Rome-based community of the priest to do was diocesan positions.

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis was the latest church official to comment on the scandal surrounding Rev. Marko Ivan Rupnik, a sought-after artist, preacher and retreat leader whose mosaics adorn churches and basilicas around the world. In Rome, where the Slovenian priest has lived since the mid-1990s, Rupnik decorated the diocesan seminary chapel and the Redemptoris Mater chapel in the Vatican.

Technically, De Donatis, Pope Francis’ day-to-day manager for the diocese of Rome, has little direct oversight of Rupnik because he is a Jesuit and reports to his immediate Jesuit superior. But in a nod to his influence in the pope’s diocese, Rupnik was also rector of an important church in Rome and is a member of the diocese’s arts council — two jobs De Donatis said Friday were now under evaluation.

The Rupnik scandal erupted earlier this month when Italian blogs and websites reported allegations by several women that Rupnik sexually, spiritually and psychologically abused them while they were consecrated women in a Jesuit community in Slovenia in the 1990s.

The Jesuits initially insisted that a single allegation was made against him in 2021, which the Vatican’s Sexual Abuse Office had shelved because she was too old to prosecute. Only when questioned did the Jesuits admit that Rupnik had been convicted and excommunicated a year earlier for committing one of the most serious crimes in the church — using the confessional to acquit someone with whom he had had sexual activity. Those charges dated back to 2015 when Rupnik was in Rome and included allegations of false mysticism that appear not to have been prosecuted.

The Jesuits then conceded that the 2021 case did in fact involve allegations by nine women.

The case has become problematic for both the Vatican and the Jesuits because many questions remain unanswered, including what role Pope Francis played in a case involving a famous fellow Jesuit. Furthermore, the Vatican Office on Sexual Abuse has not explained why it has not waived the statute of limitations to prosecute the 2021 allegations, given that it routinely makes such exceptions for abuse-related cases and the prior conviction for aggravated confession – related crime.

The Jesuits say Rupnik has been under reduced service since 2019 and is now banned from hearing confessions, giving spiritual instructions or leading spiritual practices. But the enforcement of these restrictions seems questionable; According to the Loreto website, Rupnik is scheduled to lead spiritual practices at the Loreto Sanctuary on Italy’s Adriatic coast later this February.

In a statement Friday, De Donatis said the diocese would provide “any assistance necessary” to both help victims heal and “lead as far as possible to the full light and truth of what happened.”

He also warned that he may have to take unspecified action at Rupnik’s Aletti Center, an art studio and study center focused on the interplay of culture and Christian faith. The community, which has a strong following, is currently overseen by the Diocese of Rome but is also under the Roman Superior of the Jesuits.

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