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Deciphering De Donatis

Cardinal De Donatis made several remarks regarding Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, ranging in credibility from improbable, through implausible and on to almost certainly false (if they could be made to mean anything at all).

Pope Francis listens as Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, papal vicar of Rome, speaks during an audience with the faithful from the Diocese of Rome at the Vatican Sept. 18, 2021. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The Cardinal Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, Angelo De Donatis, released a statement on Friday – late in the afternoon, Rome Time, heading into the Christmas weekend – regarding the disgraced celebrity Jesuit artist-priest, Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, SJ, accused of serial sexual and other abuse over several years and possibly more than two decades, much of which he passed under the aegis of Rome.

Cardinal De Donatis made several remarks ranging in credibility from improbable, through implausible and on to almost certainly false (if they could be made to mean anything at all). He did, however, say one thing that has more than a soupçon of verisimilitude about it.

Actually, De Donatis said the thing that has a ring of truth about it more than once, the first time in the opening sentence of his statement. “The Diocese of Rome,” De Donatis said, is “comforted by the discernment of her Supreme Pastor[.]”

That may read like boilerplate, In a sense, it is boilerplate. Only, the thing about boilerplate is that you have it to hand. Those who know how to read it may discern why you chose this rather than that pre-packaged word salad. Still, it says a great deal to anyone with facility in the exquisitely degraded idiom of Roman ecclesiastical bureaucrats known as curialese.

Basically, Cardinal De Donatis is telling everyone who reads and understands curialese that Pope Francis is calling the shots on this one, and that Pope Francis has Fr. Rupnik’s back.

Like every great curialese stylist – and there is no denying De Donatis is a master – the statement is more than slippery enough to protect the writer from anyone trying to sus out his meaning. Still, by invoking “the discernment of the Supreme Pastor,” De Donatis is letting his professional ecclesiastical readership know that Rupnik is under the pope’s protection.

De Donatis confirms this by his second circumloquacious invocation of Pope Francis, at the very bottom of the statement.

“We entrust all to the mercy of the Lord,” Cardinal De Donatis writes in his last line, “and to the prudent discernment of those who are called to make decisions about the people involved.” The thing is, there’s only one guy “called to make decisions” in respect of Fr. Rupnik or anyone else involved in this egregious shambles, and he is the Argentinian priest – also a Jesuit – currently occupying the Chair of St. Peter.

There is no doubt that the Rupnik Affair has global implications. The mere facts of the case that are known and reported to date confirm at least culpably incompetent mishandling at the very highest level of government, if not deliberate and malicious corruption. The ability not only of the faithful but also of bishops around the world to rely on Roman justice is now utterly compromised. Nevertheless, De Donatis’s Friday statement evinces how this business – ghastly and preposterous as it already appears, if not flagrantly nefarious – is also a most Roman contretemps.

One may be forgiven the impression that even the official Vatican news media outlets are reticent to give the statement too much space, if not actively trying to bury it. This could change between the time of this writing and publication, but a quick perusal of the major language pages on early Saturday morning showed that only the Italian and Portuguese services at Vatican Media had stories reporting De Donatis’s statement on their front pages. Both of those stories are at the bottom of their respective pages. Sadly, such “memory holing” is neither unheard-of, nor really attributable to much else besides concern for the institution. There is precious little sign of anything like the shame that ought to accompany such flagrant dereliction of duty on the part of senior leaders, which has resulted in so egregious a miscarriage of justice.

Ils mentent comme ils respirent, is what the French say. “They lie as they breathe.” In this case, however, a very little of the truth may have squeezed through the gimlet holes of curial and ecclesiastical mendacity. How much was the result of pressing and how much is owing to mere gravity is, for now, beside the point.

Be assured: Truth will out.

Meanwhile, folks of every conviction and none at all in every walk of life – all of whom have a right to the Gospel and to the Church as Christ intended her to be – may reasonably wonder whether an “Apalachin moment” has not come at long last to the redoubt on the western bank of the Tiber.

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About Christopher R. Altieri 237 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.


  1. In 1973, when I was 13 on the farm in rural America, my neighbor, a Catholic lady with an altar boy son, told me there were massive numbers of Priests molesting children and the Bishops were covering it up by moving predator Priests from one parish to another. I had my doubts about my neighbor ladies story, because I was taught to blindly believe that Catholic Bishops, Priests and Popes, were Holy men and would never do such horrible things. Back in the day, it seemed an enormous Catholic taboo for Catholics, and especially Catholic media and Clergy, to say anything negative about Popes, Cardinals or Bishops. The Catholic printed press at the time seemed to strictly obey this unspoken Catholic taboo.

    Thank you author Christopher R. Altieri and Catholic World Report. Keep the heat on.

    In Matthew 18, Jesus tells His Apostles that if the hand, foot or eye, of the body of His Church, is its downfall, cut it off and throw it into hell. Jesus is Commanding His Church to use Catholic Anathema to protect His Church.

    Simply have Pope Francis and Bishops auto-anathematize all child molesters, and Church leaders who help these criminals avoid justice, who have not yet confessed their crimes to civil prosecuting attorneys, juries and judges, as well as Pope Francis, Vatican justice, and the Catholic media. Now if child molesters want to go to heaven, they themselves have to show civil courts where the child molested bodies are buried and tell civil judges and juries how their crime of child molestation took place.

    Matthew 18:5
    “Whoever welcomes one such child for my sake welcomes me. On the other hand, it would be better for anyone who leads astray one of these little ones who believes in me, to be drown by a millstone around his neck, in the depths of the sea. What terrible things will come on the world through scandal! It is inevitable that scandal should occur. Nonetheless, woe to that man through whom scandal comes! If your hand or foot is your undoing, cut it off and throw it from you! Better to enter life maimed or crippled than be thrown with two hands or feet into endless fire. If your eye is your downfall, gouge it out and cast it from you! Better to enter life with one eye than be thrown with both into fiery Gehenna.

    In passing this sentence, the pontiff is vested in amice, stole, and a violet cope, wearing his mitre, and assisted by twelve priests clad in their surplices and holding lighted candles. He takes his seat in front of the altar or in some other suitable place, amid pronounces the formula of anathema which ends with these words: Wherefore in the name of God the All-powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of the Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of all the saints, in virtue of the power which has been given us of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth, we deprive N– himself and all his accomplices and all his abettors of the Communion of the Body and Blood of our Lord, we separate him from the society of all Christians, we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth, we declare him excommunicated and anathematized and we judge him condemned to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate , so long as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance and satisfy the Church; we deliver him to Satan to mortify his body, that his soul may be saved on the day of judgment.”…
    …He who dares to despise our decision, let him be stricken with anathema maranatha, i.e. may he be damned at the coming of the Lord, may he have his place with Judas Iscariot, he and his companions.
    Quoted from: New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia – Anathema

    Matthew 18:17
    “If he ignores them, refer it to the church . If he ignores even the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. I assure you, whatever you declare bound on earth shall be held bound in heaven, and whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be held loosed in heaven.”

    Acts 5 Ananias and Sapphira.
    A man named Ananias, however, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property. He retained for himself, with his wife’s knowledge, some of the purchase price, took the remainder, and put it at the feet of the apostles. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart so that you lied to the holy Spirit and retained part of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain yours? And when it was sold, was it not still under your control? Why did you contrive this deed? You have lied not to human beings, but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last, and great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men came and wrapped him up, then carried him out and buried him.
    After an interval of about three hours, his wife came in, unaware of what had happened. Peter said to her, “Tell me, did you sell the land for this amount?” She answered, “Yes, for that amount.” Then Peter said to her, “Why did you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen, the footsteps of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” At once, she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men entered they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

  2. Sorry to inform you, Cardinal De Donatis, but the laity of the Church is no longer listening to you and the other curialese. You only heard about this Rupnik matter recently? The world has been watching it for years. Sadly, we anticipated the Pope’s exoneration of him and other Jesuit confreres. The ever popular “statute of limitations” doesn’t fly for the destruction (aka homicide) of souls suffering from the acts of these evildoers.

  3. The Jesuits’ concept of obedience facilitates clerical sex abuse and cover-ups. Their founder invented a novel understanding of obedience that’s alien to tradition and the fathers. Go and read John Lamont’s Essay “A Jesuit Tragedy”.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Rupnik Case. I preti di Roma: “Vorremmo alzare la nostra voce” | Silere non possum
  2. Comentarios papales confusos y contradicotios sobre el jesuita Rupnik, generaron revuelo

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