Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 19, 2022 / 18:30 pm (CNA).
The Vatican investigator who uncovered allegations of sexual and spiritual abuse by Jesuit artist Father Marko Ivan Rupnik says the claims are true, according to a letter he sent to Italian priests obtained by the Associated Press.
Bishop Daniele Libanari also said the women Rupnik is alleged to have abused have “seen their lives ruined by the evil suffered and by the complicit silence” of the Church, the AP reported Monday.
He urged the members of the hierarchy who hid his crimes to “humbly ask the world to forgive the scandal.”
Libanori’s letter comes on the heels of revelations in the past week that Rupnik, a Slovenian priest well-known for his mosaics that adorn chapels and churches around the world, had been excommunicated for using the confessional to absolve a woman with whom he had engaged in sexual activity.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex abuse cases, declared the excommunication in May 2020 but lifted it that same month, reportedly after Rupnik repented.
Yet when new allegations surfaced of sexual and spiritual abuse by Marko in the early 1990s at the community for women religious in Slovenia where he served as chaplain, the same Vatican office (now called the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith) closed the case because it said the claims were too old to prosecute.
Libanori, also a Jesuit, uncovered the women’s stories when he was sent in 2019 by the Vatican to conduct an investigation into their troubled community in Slovenia amid complaints about their current leader, the AP reported.
“It’s ignoble to think of reducing responsibility and diminishing the evil by dismissing those who complain with summary judgments about their mental health or, worse, their seriousness,” Libanori wrote in a Dec. 4 letter to the Slovene community members, the AP reported. “If anything, this makes the responsibility of those who took advantage of them more serious.”
In his letter to Italian priests, Libanori, an auxiliary bishop of Rome, wrote that while Rupnik deserves God’s love and mercy, his victims deserve to be believed.
“Wounded and offended people, who have seen their lives ruined by the evil suffered and by complicit silence, have the right to have their dignity even publicly restored now that everything has come to light,” Libanori wrote. “We the church have a duty to seriously examine our conscience, and those who are responsible must acknowledge it and humbly ask the world to forgive the scandal.”
The Jesuits, meanwhile, are asking any other potential victims to come forward with claims, the AP reported.
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