Statement about Fr. Rupnik from the Diocese of Rome raises more questions

Released on Friday afternoon right before Christmas, the statement describes Fr. Rupnik as a man who “had provided numerous and precious services” to the Rome diocese through the years, and had been “made blameful for heavy abuses of various kinds” especially by reports in the media.

A screen grab shows Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik, an artist and theologian, giving a Lenten meditation from the Clementine Hall at the Vatican in this March 6, 2020, file photo. Father Rupnik, whose mosaics decorate chapels in the Vatican, all over Europe, in the United States and Australia, is under restricted ministry after being accused of abusing adult nuns in Slovenia. (CNS photo)

The Diocese of Rome has issued its own statement regarding Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, SJ, the world-famous Jesuit artist-priest accused of serial sexual, psychological, and spiritual abuse of at least nine women over a period of several years.

CWR has its translation of the statement in English, below, but it is unlikely to satisfy anyone and in fact raises several questions while answering very few.

Rupnik was quietly punished with excommunication for absolving one of his “accomplices” in “sins against the Sixth Commandment” – Church-speak for sexual misbehavior – then rehabilitated in very short order after he “expressed remorse” for his abuse of the sacrament. He was never charged with any crime related to the abuse he is alleged to have committed.

The statement, for example, says that the Diocese of Rome learned about the accusations against Fr. Rupnik “only in very recent times.” The problem is that the churchman who brought the abuse allegations to official Rome in 2019 appears to have been none other than Daniele Libanori, an auxiliary bishop of the Rome diocese and a Jesuit.

Libanori conducted an inquiry into the Loyola community of women religious that Rupnik had helped to start in the 1980s, during which he heard from Rupnik’s victims and encouraged them to file complaints with the Vatican.

Sure, it is possible that Libanori’s report stayed under Pontifical Secret – still fairly standard operating procedure in Apostolic Visitations, as fact-finding missions like the one Bishop Libanori conducted are styled in ecclesialese – but the level of dysfunction required for no one to have made so much as a phone call to say there was a problem with the guy just boggles. Frankly, it is incredible.

Released on Friday afternoon right before Christmas, the statement describes Fr. Rupnik as a man who “had provided numerous and precious services” to the Rome diocese through the years, and had been “made blameful for heavy abuses of various kinds” especially by reports in the media. To hear Angelo De Donatis – Rome’s Cardinal Vicar – tell it, Rupnik’s is “a case, now full-blown, of accusation in the media against a cleric.”

Well, yes, sort of, but only because Cardinal Luis Ladaria SJ refused to waive the statute of limitations. Ladaria is the Jesuit head of the Vatican office responsible for investigating and prosecuting the sorts of crimes of which Fr. Rupnik SJ – the Jesuit celebrity priest – is accused. You don’t get to whinge about your guy not getting his day in court, when your guys are the reason your guy didn’t have to see the inside of a courtroom at all.

Ladaria’s outfit frequently waives statutes of limitations, usually when a competent churchman asks them to do it. Bishop Libanori – who is also a Jesuit – wrote a letter this week, in which he said the allegations against Rupnik are correct. It’s hard to fathom that consideration not making it into his official report, even if spelling out, “You need to prosecute this creep!” wasn’t part of his job.

The Jesuits say they restricted Fr. Rupnik’s ministry, but those restrictions didn’t keep Rupnik from plying his art, receiving awards and accolades, or even preaching a Lenten retreat to the Papal Household after judges unanimously decided he had done the one thing for which he faced any consequences at all. Sure, it was March of 2020 and the world was on lockdown when that last thing happened, but, this is puzzling at best.

So, people are angry.

That doesn’t sit well with Cardinal De Donatis, who apparently wants people not only to reserve judgment, but to stop reading altogether and certainly to pay no attention to his pesky auxiliary. De Donatis says in his statement:

The judgments that we see spread by many with particular vehemence do not seem to manifest either an evangelical criterion for the search for truth, or a basic criterion on which every state of law is founded: a verbis legis non est recedendum. [“From the words of the law there may be no departure.”]

That’s rich. The “many” spreading judgments “with particular vehemence” may be folks in the street, but they are certainly the scribblers who have been reporting, analyzing, and remarking on this story. As for the strict letter of the law, one is tempted to ask: What about the pope’s vaunted reform law that makes it easier – on paper, at least – to investigate and prosecute both crime and coverup, Vos estis lux mundi?

Then again, Ladaria can hardly be expected to Vos estis himself, and it’s practically impossible to Vos estis everybody, and in any case nobody can Vos estis the pope.

The statement also reminds everyone, more than once, that Fr. Rupnik is not Cardinal De Donatis’s problem. It says that De Donatis may eventually get around to stripping Rupnik of the various offices and titles and responsibilities he has under the Rome vicariate, or maybe not. The statement promises “all necessary collaboration” to the Jesuits and the Vatican types who may need it to manage the Rupnik business, but one does not suspect there was ever any doubt about that.

****************

The Diocese of Rome, faithful to her mission of presiding in charity, comforted by the discernment of her Supreme Pastor, feels it is her duty to pronounce herself on a case, now full-blown, of accusation in the media against a cleric, Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik S.J., member of the Society of Jesus – a Religious Institute of Pontifical Right – made blameful for heavy abuses of various kinds, protracted over time, to the detriment of various people, starting in the early 1990s, in Slovenia and Italy.

The current pronouncement of the Vicariate of Rome must be understood to be respectful of the competences and decisions of Fr. Rupnik’s legitimate Superiors, as well as the determinations of all the Authorities [It. Istanze] that have dealt with his case, especially in recent months, in particular those of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. Indeed, the cleric has until now had a pastoral relationship with the Diocese of Rome on various levels, but he is not in a position of hierarchical submission to the Cardinal Vicar at a disciplinary and eventually penal level.

Until now, Fr. Rupnik had provided numerous and precious services of a ministerial character to the Church of Rome: In particular, the activity of preaching retreats and exercises, above all to the Roman clergy, and the artistic activity that led him, among other things, to decorate the Chapel of the Roman Major Seminary, stand out among the many that have marked his regular and stable collaboration, which began many years ago.

Faced with this disconcerting communication – especially from the media – which disorients the People of God, the whole Diocese is experiencing these hours with concern and dismay, aware of the extreme delicacy of the situation, which – it must be reiterated – has been widely dealt with in judicial venues that fall entirely outside the competence of the Cardinal Vicar, and which is now managed independently by the legitimate Superiors of Fr. Rupnik, as was communicated to us on 16 December [of this year, 2022], Prot. DIR-SOLI 22/006, signed by the DIR Delegate, Johan Verschueren S.J.

The Diocese of Rome, which until very recent times was not aware of the problems raised, cannot enter into the merits of the decisions taken by others, but ensures, also in the name of her Bishop, all necessary support for the auspicable positive resolution of the case, one that should heal the wounds inflicted on people and on the ecclesial body, leading as far as possible to shed full light and truth on what happened: that truth, which alone sets us free (Jn 8:32).

It is the duty of the Church to apply the criteria of truth, which are those of God, with which He looks upon us and judges us. She has two inalienable mandates which are also duties at the same time: to be close to those who suffer and to implement the criteria of truth and justice taken from the Gospel. In the case that is shaking her, it is good to proceed according to a certain path: We ministers of Christ cannot be less [of a] guarantor [of rights] and [less] charitable than a secular state, transforming de plano an accusation into a criminal conviction. The judgments that we see spread by many with particular vehemence do not seem to manifest either an evangelical criterion for the search for truth, or a basic criterion on which every state of law is founded: a verbis legis non est recedendum. [“From the words of the law there may be no departure.”]

The Church that is in Rome at this moment considers it primary and fundamental to welcome with profound respect the pain and suffering of all the people involved in this affair, especially in this liturgical season of the year which calls everyone to recognize Christ the Savior as the only one able to heal the wounds of man’s heart.

In particular, the Diocese of Rome assures all necessary collaboration to the Society of Jesus and to the Higher Authorities for the implementation of the Decree Prot. DIR-SOLI 22/005 of 16 December last, signed by the DIR Delegate, Fr. Johan Verschueren S.J. , in terms of canon law. Among other things, this will probably involve a series of measures with respect to the offices canonically erected under the diocese – the only ones directly subject to the authority of the Cardinal Vicar – with which Fr. Rupnik is still invested, in particular that of Rector of the Church of St. Philip Neri all’Esquilino and Member of the Diocesan Commission for Sacred Art and Cultural Heritage.

The Diocese of Rome is also aware of her duty to reflect and possibly take measures with respect to an activity that has already been started for many years by Fr. Rupnik and his collaborators also in our diocesan purview: it is the well-known Centro Aletti, which began in the early 1990s, then developed and grew under the authority of the Society of Jesus and finally became, on 5 June 2019 (cf. Decree Prot. n. 349/19), Public Association of the Faithful of the Diocese of Rome, of which Dr. Maria Campatelli is currently the Director.

We entrust all to the mercy of the Lord and to the prudent discernment of those who are called to make decisions about the people involved.

Angelo Card. DE DONATIS

Vicar General


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About Christopher R. Altieri 190 Articles
Christopher R. Altieri is a journalist, editor and author of three books, including Reading the News Without Losing Your Faith (Catholic Truth Society, 2021). He is contributing editor to Catholic World Report.

36 Comments

  1. #1. Rape by a cleric is NOT a “service to the Church.”
    #2. It’s apparent to anyone who’s sentient that the Jesuits ought to be suppressed (yet again).
    #3. It’s time for Pope Francis to resign. He’s incapable/unwilling to lead Christ’s Church. He himself stepped away from his title of “Vicar of Christ.” When he leaves the scene, his favored Cardinals ought to leave with him.

    Our Catholic Church is sorely in need of reformation and it should begin with Cardinals, very many bishops (most especially in Germany), the Vatican apparachniks, and the election of a new Pope.

    • Except that the current Pope has heavily stacked the College of Cardinals with men like himself. I can’t imagine that they would elect anyone even slightly resembling the his immediate predecessors.

      • Glen;

        Your 12:24 on 12/23; It’s fair to point out that JPII & Benedict XVI over a period of 35 years – 1978-2013 – also heavily ‘stacked’ the college of Cardinals, and they elected Francis, so who can really tell what kind of Pope might emerge from the next Conclave?

        • Actually, I agree with you, since JP II’s episcopal appointments were a source of puzzlement and distress for me. He it was who named Bernardin, Mahoney, Pilarczyk, May, Kasper, Martini, Daneels and McCarrick, whom he appointed in disregard of dire warnings from John Cardinal O’Conner. He also named a certain Argentinian prelate, Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio, whose name rings a bell. Benedict’s appointments were not outstanding, but certainly less toxic than the roster so cheerfully selected by JP II, who seemed to see only his “dear brothers” in his disastrous selections. In short, you’re absolutely right.

    • Nothing is going to change in the Catholic Church until we get rid of the homosexual problem the church has. This Rupnik guy is only there because of homosexuals who run the church, who allow him in, and protected him. Everything else people may want to talk about is nonsense. The Catholic church has a massive homosexual problem, and until priests and bishops and Popes openly talk about this problem, nothing is going to be solved, and I for one, refuse to pretend nothing is wrong anymore.

        • You’ve missed his point…badly.

          Let me explain: the homosexualists in the Catholic Church, because they are steeped in sinful thinking and behavior, seek to tear down all that is natural, all that is good and promote evil wherever it might be found. Thus, the homosexualist will find the killing of the unborn as a “good”. The homosexualist will find adultery and an absence of permanence, commitment and faithfulness in marriage as nothing to be concerned with (take a look at the number of sex partners active homosexualists have). And, too, the homosexualists would wink at a priest vowed to celibacy having forcible sex with nuns under his authority and influence. They might even exclaim: “Who am I to judge.”

          No, Todd, you don’t turn to sinners and those sympathetic to sinful living to judge a case of sinful behavior in another. Samton is correct: until the Church rids its clergy of homosexualists who are sympathetic to normalizing what is sin, our problems in the Church will not end. It is a bad practice to bargain with lies and those who purvey lies.

          • Well, Deacon, in part yes, in part no. Todd is right that the problem is not homosexuality/ists, it is lust, unchastity, demonically unrepentant; Samton is correct that this needs to be gone. No one is perfect, so sinners will always have to be turned to judge sinful actions of another. The problem is not that they are sinners, but that they are unrepenting, self-justifying sinners. May the ChristChild make all Saints, humble repenting sinners seeking to be Christ fully. A blessed Christmas, Padre

        • Mr. Todd,
          In these cases whether it’s directed towards men, women, or children it’s a disorder.

          Someone wisely said that the source of bad theology is often unconfessed sins, usually those of a sexual nature. I think that can apply to bad art also.

          • There are many who do not want to make rational connections between sin and belief systems. Deacon Peitler is right. It is no accident that 98 percent of homosexuals are pro-aborts. A denial of sin affects every thought a person has about how the world works and how they think it should work, even when they are not denying their own personal sins. Theologians commit a lot of stupidity to rationalize a lot of stupidity. Francis has never shown an ability to draw a rational connection between the sex revolution and the damage it does not only to the social ethos but especially to the mountains of unborn corpses.

      • Well, if it has a massive homosexual problem and the popes and bishops aren’t talking about it…

        I mean the dude openly applauds Klaus Schwab and the WEF. This is clearly the fruition of something the Kinseyite commies did, back in the 30s. Is it rational to think that, after 100 years, they’re just a bunch of nervous, old men? What if they were planted there, for the sole purpose of pushing us off a ledge?

  2. ‘Made blameful,” the odd phrase in the first paragraph of the statement by the Diocese of Rome, is “incolpato” in the Italian original; it means “accused, incriminated.” “Comforted by” (“confortato”) in the same paragraph probably means “fortified / encouraged” in this context. Later on “auspicabile” = English “to be hoped for.”

    • It was hardly abrupt. It was almost thirty years in the making, from his initial disobedience of Cdl O’Connor. And the blasphemy six years ago. Different crimes. And human institutions take obedience very seriously.

      • Todd, they seem to take it seriously rather selectively. And by abrupt, I mean that Pavone wasn’t called on the carpet or asked to give an account of himself, warned that he’d better shape up or else, etc. As for his “blasphemy,” what exactly was that? He did use some locker room language on a couple of occasions, but if that’s “blasphemy,” then a lot of Catholic military chaplains ought to be dismissed. Having said all of that, I’m also one who hasn’t especially admired Father Pavone’s tactics over the years, especially his sometimes strident political partisanship. Still, I find the whole episode, as I said, “abrupt.”

        • Actually, we know he was “called on the carpet.” Many times. For the past several years, he refused to go to meetings. By his own admission, he shopped around for a new diocese at least twice. He had a pattern of disobedience that stretched back to 1993 and the man who ordained him. Most observers have commented that his blasphemy was celebrating Mass with fetal remains on the altar.

          • Did Fr.Pavone actually do that though? I’m unsure of the exact details.
            Priests routinely celebrate Mass with human remains inside the altar.

          • Happy New Year, Todd.

            Actually, the letter from the Roman authorities states that Pavone had posted “blasphemous communications on social media,” but does not elaborate or provide specific instances. No mention of the example you Attribute to “most observers.” And while he did indeed seek to be excardinated to different dioceses, that’s hardly grounds for dismissal from the priesthood, is it? Pavone had also taken his case to Vatican authorities several times, appealing his frequent local disputes with bishops and other authorities, and he was vindicated several times. Even so, I agree with Phil Lawler, in the article below, that Pavone had essentially made his own mess and indeed a “loose cannon:”

            https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/vaticans-action-against-frank-pavone-overdue-yet-unexplained/

          • Like the wider working world, bishops in the Church can be very tight-lipped about personnel matters. This is as it should be. Many of us in the Church and out of it have wondered about good colleagues who suddenly had new horizons not of their choosing. I guess I’m old enough to know I don’t need to know everything. And not all pink slips are unjust.

            Frank Pavone did broadcast Mass with what he himself claimed was a dead fetus. At the very least it was cringeworthy. He was disobedient to his four bishops over thirty years. He declined to meet with his ordinary in Amarillo. Another blogger I know has catalogued the story … in far more detail than I care to bother with. The wonderment there is why it took so long.

            Maybe it would’ve been a good thing if Frank Pavone took a parish assignment like a lot of other celebrity priests. Travel a bit the occasional midweek and vacation. Write from home and do the social media thing on his day off. Stay grounded with people for who abortion is not a consideration–the people who struggle everyday struggles. Serve the Church as the priest he was ordained to be.

            Any lay person can be an activist 24/7/365 if they wish. If I were to ask the man one question, it would be: why did you get ordained in the first place, if abortion is so all-important?

  3. Playing around with. Changing established definitions of words, customs, commandments and laws to cover up a dark crime. Is a crime in its self. Shame and disgust on all involved. Has satan established him self at the highest level of the church. GOD, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and all of Heaven sees and knows. Just as all of us are looked over.

  4. If it is not felt to be deeply sinful, evil, to pay homage to a false deity, to engage in idolatry, then sexual immorality, including rape, must seem like the slightest indiscretion, a mere touch of impoliteness, a true peccadillo.

  5. Fr Rupnik and Fr James Martin, both Jesuits, are in good status with the Vatican while Fr Frank Pavone, leading anti-abortion advocate is laicized.
    Can someone explain this to me?

  6. Fact – He himself has admitted to abusing the sacrament of Confession to absolve someone he had sinned with. This admission lends credibility to all the remaining allegations. One cannot repent for something one did not do. And one had already been judged by a church tribunal of some sort as having absolved a person he has sinned with. This does not lend itself to Rupnik being falsely accused or rashly judged. A church whose leaders continually downplay sexual immorality in all forms as being small sins and faults is incapable of rendering any justice to victims of sexual abuse. One who downplays the 6th Commandment of God as if were only a suggestion needs to in all honesty resign from God’s Church he founded. There is no Truth in them. Violations of the 6th Commandment leads to a loss of Faith, divorce and remarriage, theft, anger, lust, murder, poverty and homelessness, harms children both physically and their development for life, death both spiritually and physically with various sexually transmitted diseases and mental health breakdowns. The 6th Commandment is in the top 10 for many serious reasons. It is not to be downplayed at all. If you say you care for the poor, and then downplay the 6th Commandment you are a liar.

  7. I think the underlying error, one even espoused by our Pontiff, is that these sins below the waist are of minor consequence when compared to the larger issues of the soul. These sins are manifestations of a far greater sin than the sixth commandment, but of the first. These men are apostates to the Truth, their vows and promises, and to God. The Second Vatican Council called for an evangelization of the world. The reality is that the missionaries became apostates and have sought to evangelize the Church in the ways of the world. Until there is a realization of this sin, there will not be a change, and that is a long way off. It will require a pope to actually rule the curia and be a pastor to the Church rather than an author of ephemeral esoterica.

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