Vatican investigator says claims of Jesuit abuse true

Dec 18, 2022, 9:58 PM | Updated: Dec 19, 2022, 12:23 pm
FILE - Pope Francis is flanked by Jesuits' superior general Arturo Sosa Abascal, left as he leaves ...

FILE - Pope Francis is flanked by Jesuits' superior general Arturo Sosa Abascal, left as he leaves the Church of the Gesu', mother church of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), after presiding a mass on March 12, 2022. The head of Pope Francis’ Jesuit religious order admitted Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, that a famous Jesuit priest had been convicted of one of the most serious crimes in the Catholic Church some two years before the Vatican decided to shelve another case against him for allegedly abusing other adult women under his spiritual care.The Rev. Arturo Sosa, the Jesuit superior general, made the admission during a briefing with journalists that was dominated by the scandal over the Rev. Marko Ivan Rubnik and the reluctance of both the Vatican and the Jesuits to tell the whole story behind the unusually lenient treatment he received. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

(AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

ROME (AP) — A Vatican-appointed investigator who helped bring to light decades-old allegations of sexual and spiritual abuse against a famous Jesuit priest is calling for the hierarchs who hid his crimes to “humbly ask the world to forgive the scandal.”

In correspondence obtained Monday, Bishop Daniele Libanori also said the claims of the women about the Rev. Marko Ivan Rupnik were true and that they had “seen their lives ruined by the evil suffered and by the complicit silence” of the church.

Libanori penned the letter Sunday to fellow priests after a remarkable week in which the Jesuit religious order of Pope Francis admitted that Rupnik, an artist whose mosaics grace churches and chapels around the world, had been excommunicated for having committed one of the most serious crimes in the church: 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 and then declined to prosecute him a year later when nine women came forward with other, related allegations. The Congregation, which is headed by Jesuits, said the cases were to old to prosecute.

Libanori, who is himself 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.

Rupnik, who is Slovene, had helped found the Loyola Community of consecrated women in the 1980s, but was ordered to leave in 1993 for reasons that now appear related to allegations he sexually and spiritually abused the women under his spiritual care there.

Learning of the claims, Libanori urged the women to file formal complaints with the Vatican, resulting in the 2021 case that was ultimately shelved because it was deemed too old to prosecute.

Despite the early exile from Slovenia, Rupnik retained some supporters and a group of women followed him to Rome where he founded a hugely successful art and cultural study center — the Aletti Center, which has its own publishing imprint, Lipa Editions. Rupnik still enjoys a strong web of supporters, some of whom have sought to discredit the Slovene accusers by questioning their mental health, according to another piece of Libanori correspondence.

“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. “If anything, this makes the responsibility of those who took advantage of them more serious.”

The Rupnik scandal has underscored the weaknesses in the Vatican’s abuse policies concerning spiritual and sexual abuse of adult women, and how powerful priests can often count on high-ranking support even after credible allegations against them are lodged.

Libanori’s correspondence evidences the same playbook used by other accused priests — the Rev. Marcial Maciel and ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick for example — who managed to discredit their accusers for decades by claiming they were unstable, out to hurt them or the church, or were merely spreading slanderous “calumnies.”

Libanori, who is also an auxiliary bishop of Rome, sought to set the record straight in the letter to Italian priests. While saying Rupnik deserves God’s love and mercy, Libanori said his victims deserve to be believed, that the full truth must still come out and that those who protected Rupnik must step up.

“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, for their part, are asking any other potential victims to come forward with claims.

The Rupnik case appears to be another instance of a charismatic religious leader who helped found a new religious community, only to later be accused of abusing those under his spiritual sway. Pope Francis has been cracking down on the unregulated explosion of such communities that blossomed after the Second Vatican Council and found favor under St. John Paul II.

Francis has launched countless investigations into individual communities, imposed outside leadership on them to implement reforms while making across-the-board term limits on governance positions in lay movements to try to prevent cults of personalities from forming.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


The logo for OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, appears on a mobile phone, in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 31...
Associated Press

Cheaters beware: ChatGPT maker releases AI detection tool

ChatGPT is trying to curb its reputation as a freewheeling cheating machine with a new tool that can help detect if artificial intelligence wrote it
18 hours ago
This undated photo provided by the Grants Pass Police Department shows Benjamin Obadiah Foster. Fos...
Rio Yamat and Andrew Selsky, Associated Press

Oregon kidnap suspect previously released the day he arrived at prison

A man at the center of an intense police search in Oregon after a violent kidnapping last week was released from custody in October 2021 by Nevada prison officials on the same day he was transferred to the state's custody to serve a kidnapping sentence, authorities said Monday.
18 hours ago
The final Boeing 747 sits on the tarmac outside of the factory at a ceremony for delivery, Tuesday,...
Associated Press

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing bid farewell to an icon on Tuesday, delivering its final 747 jumbo jet as thousands of workers who helped build the planes over the past 55 years looked on. Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of […]
18 hours ago
seattle police...
Associated Press

Name of Seattle officer in crash that killed woman released

Police have released the name of a Seattle police officer who was responding to a medical call when his patrol SUV hit and killed a 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula last week in a city crosswalk.
18 hours ago
FILE - Bamm Gibson and the New Orleans Hot Jazz perform on the first day of the annual French Quart...
Associated Press

French Quarter Festival unveils lineup for 40th anniversary

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Organizers on Tuesday announced a lineup of more than 270 acts for New Orleans’ 40th annual French Quarter Festival, billed as Louisiana’s largest free showcase of music, food and culture. Artists scheduled to perform at the April 13-16 event include Irma Thomas, Ani DiFranco, Tank and the Bangas, blues guitarist Samantha […]
18 hours ago
CORRECTS ELECTION YEAR TO 1985, NOT 1984 - State Rep. Alyce Clarke, D-Jackson, speaks to reporters ...
Associated Press

Mississippi’s 1st Black woman legislator won’t seek new term

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The first Black woman elected to the Mississippi Legislature said Tuesday that she will not seek another term, 38 years after she first took office. Democratic Rep. Alyce Clarke of Jackson, 83, announced her decision one day before candidates’ qualifying deadline for statewide, regional, legislative and county offices in Mississippi. “You […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Vatican investigator says claims of Jesuit abuse true