‘Despicable’: Slovene bishops condemn Jesuit artist’s abuse

Dec 21, 2022, 7:44 PM | Updated: Dec 22, 2022, 9:52 am
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)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Slovenia’s Catholic bishops on Thursday condemned as “despicable” the emotional, sexual, and spiritual violence committed against women by a famous Slovenian priest at the heart of an abuse and cover-up scandal roiling the Vatican and the Jesuit order of Pope Francis.

The Slovene bishops’ conference broke three weeks of silence with a statement in which the churchmen also voiced solidarity with the victims of the Rev. Marko Ivan Rupnik and urged anyone harmed by him or any other priest who abused his authority to come forward.

“It is never the victims’ fault! We are on their side,” the bishops said. “Any misuse of spiritual power and authority to carry out violence against subordinates is an unacceptable and despicable act.”

The scandal involving Rupnik, a Jesuit from Slovenia whose mosaics decorate churches and chapels around the globe, erupted earlier this month when Italian blogs and websites reported claims by several women that Rupnik sexually, spiritually and psychologically abused them.

The Jesuits initially insisted there was a single allegation against him in 2021 that the Vatican’s sex abuse office shelved because it was too old to prosecute. Only under questioning did the Jesuits acknowledge that Rupnik was convicted and excommunicated a year earlier for committing one of the most serious crimes in the church — using the confessional to absolve someone with whom he had engaged in sexual activity.

The Jesuits also subsequently acknowledged that the 2021 case actually involved allegations by nine women.

The 2021 claims date from the 1990s, when Rupnik was a spiritual adviser to a Jesuit-affiliated community of consecrated women in Slovenia. They came to light after the Vatican sent an investigator to look into complaints about the way the community was being run. Learning of the alleged abuses, the investigator urged the women to make formal complaints.

The Vatican’s sex abuse office, known now as the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, hasn’t responded to questions about why it didn’t waive the statute of limitations on the 2021 allegations, as it often does, especially given Rupnik’s conviction and temporary excommunication by the Vatican the previous year.

The Vatican spokesman similarly hasn’t responded to questions about what, if anything, Francis knew about the claims involving his fellow Jesuit or whether he intervened. The pope and Rupnik last met on Jan. 3.

In their statement Thursday, which was posted in three languages, the Slovene bishops said that even though the Vatican’s sex crimes office determined the 2021 allegations were too old to prosecute, they “are always reprehensible and demand condemnation.”

The case has laid bare some uncomfortable issues facing the Holy See, chief among them its general unwillingness to consider clergy sexual and spiritual misconduct against adult women as a crime that must be punished. Rather, the Vatican has long considered any sexual activity between adults as consensual and a mere lapse of priestly chastity, without considering if there was an abuse of authority involved that caused victims trauma.

Additionally, the case has raised questions about whether Rupnik got preferential treatment given his artistic talents and status as a famous, sought-after Jesuit at a time when the pope’s order is in a position of influence at the Holy See. The Vatican office that handled his case is headed by a Jesuit prefect, has a Jesuit sex crimes prosecutor and a former No. 2 who lived in Rupnik’s Jesuit community in Rome.

And it has raised the question about the proportionality of canonical punishments: Many priests have been removed from ministry entirely for lesser seeming crimes. Yet Rupnik was allowed to keep preaching, celebrating Mass and most importantly, making his art even after having incurred excommunication, albeit temporarily.

Even the Slovene bishops seemed to want to separate Rupnik’s crimes from his good works, describing him as an “outstanding artist and insightful spiritual leader.”

“We beg you, with this tragic realization in mind, to distinguish his unacceptable and reprehensible actions from his extraordinary spiritual and artistic accomplishments in mosaics and other areas,” they said.

Francis hasn’t responded in any public or specific way to the revelations, which have also implicated supporters of Rupnik who sought to discredit his accusers by questioning their mental health. But Francis appeared to address the issues it has raised in a general way Thursday, during his annual Christmas greetings to Vatican bureaucrats.

“Besides the violence of arms, there is also verbal violence, psychological violence, the violence of the abuse of power, the hidden violence of gossip,” he said. “May none of us profit from his or her position and role in order to demean others.”

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

AP

FILE - Grey clouds cover the sky over a building of the Credit Suisse bank in Zurich, Switzerland, ...
Associated Press

Credit Suisse posts $1.4B pre-tax loss as woes go on in 4Q

GENEVA (AP) — Credit Suisse on Thursday reported a pre-tax loss of more than 1.3 billion Swiss francs (about $1.4 billion) in the fourth quarter of last year, as its new managers vie to right the top-drawer Swiss bank that has faced a string of setbacks in recent years. The bank also announced the $175 […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

3 dead in apartment building fire in Novosibirsk, Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — A gas explosion in an apartment building in the south-central Russian city of Novosibirsk Thursday morning killed three people, according to the latest reports from local authorities. Novosibirsk is the administrative capital of Siberia and Russia’s third-largest city by population. Regional Gov. Andrey Travnikov confirmed the deaths of three people, noting that […]
1 day ago
FILE - A staff of Nissan car showroom wipes a car on Jan. 31, 2022, in Tokyo. Nissan reported a 55%...
Associated Press

Japan’s Nissan reports better profit as chip crunch eases

TOKYO (AP) — Nissan reported a 55% jump in October-December profit Thursday, as the Japanese automaker seeks to embark on a less bumpy journey with its French alliance partner Renault. Profit for the quarter at Yokohama-based Nissan Motor Co. totaled 50.6 billion yen ($386 million), up from 32.7 billion yen the previous year. Quarterly sales […]
1 day ago
Search teams and emergency aid from around the world are pouring into
Turkey and Syria as rescuers ...
Associated Press

Afghan women, children chase false rumor to Kabul airport

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Hundreds of Afghans, including women and children, dashed toward the Kabul airport after a false rumor spread that flights were leaving for Turkey to help rescue earthquake victims. Videos and photos posted on social media since Wednesday showed dozens of desperate people running on foot in the darkness and cold towards the […]
1 day ago
People warm up with fire in front of destroyed buildings in Antakya, southern Turkey, Wednesday, Fe...
Associated Press

Live Updates I Turkish president to visit quake-hit areas

Rescuers pulled more survivors from beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings Thursday, but hopes were starting to fade of finding many more people alive more than three days after a catastrophic earthquake and series of aftershocks hit Turkey and Syria, killing more than 16,000. The earthquake that razed thousands of buildings in Turkey and Syria […]
1 day ago
FILE - Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning gestures during a press conference at the Min...
Associated Press

Beijing calls US claims over balloons ‘information warfare’

BEIJING (AP) — China on Thursday said U.S. accusations that a downed Chinese balloon was part of an extensive surveillance program amount to “information warfare against China.” The Pentagon on Wednesday said the Chinese balloon shot down off the South Carolina coast Saturday was part of a program involving a number of such airships that […]
1 day 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.
SHIBA WA...

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.
‘Despicable’: Slovene bishops condemn Jesuit artist’s abuse