After months of revelations regarding alleged sexual abuses, the Society of Jesus, known more commonly as the Jesuits, expelled artist and priest Fr. Marko Rupnik, making a statement on his expulsion on Thursday, June 15th.
The statement, which was released in Italian, notes that Fr. Rupnik was dismissed from the holy order on June 9th and that the decision came following an investigation into Rupnik’s behaviour that was launched earlier this year in February.
“This was done in accordance with canon law, because of his stubborn refusal to observe the vow of obedience,” delegate Johan Verschueren SJ stated in the press release and added:
So we forced Father Marko Rupnik to change communities and accept a new mission in which we offered him one last chance as a Jesuit to come to terms with his past and to give a clear signal to the many injured people who testified against him, in order to enter into a path of truth. Faced with Marko Rupnik’s repeated refusal to obey this mandate, unfortunately, there is only one solution left: resignation from the Society of Jesus.
Under Roman Catholic Canon Law, Fr. Rupnik now has a 30-day period in which to file a formal appeal against the decision.
Rupnik, who became a favoured artist among many in the Vatican in recent years and has had his art displayed in various holy sites, including Lourdes, Fatima, and the tomb of Saint Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, became embroiled in accusations of sex abuse last year.
According to a report from December of last year, Fr. Rupnik may have abused as many as nine women, all of them nuns, although one alleged victim claimed that around 20 of the 41 women present at her convent had been abused by Rupnik.
The abuse is believed to date back to the 1990s and took place at a convent in Fr. Rupnik’s native Slovenia when he served as a spiritual director to the community of nuns.
An alleged victim, now a former nun, said:
Father Marko started slowly and sweetly getting inside my psychological and spiritual world, exploiting my uncertainties and fragility and using my relationship with God to push me into sexual experiences with him.
The woman also claimed that she had informed Church authorities of the abuse as early as 1994 but stated she had been ignored.
After the accusations were published in the Italian media, it later emerged that Rupnik had been excommunicated in May of 2020 for absolving a woman he had sex with—an abuse of the sacrament of Confession and a serious crime in the Catholic Church.
Jesuit Superior General, Father Arturo Sosa, added that the excommunication of Rupnik was later lifted as he repented for his actions just a month later.
It also emerged that prior sexual abuse from the 1990s had been forwarded to the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith in 2021 but was dropped due to a 30-year statute of limitations.
The Rupnik scandal enveloped not just the Jesuits but went as high as Pope Francis himself, a personal friend of Fr. Rupnik, with some alleging that the Jesuits and others covered up for Fr. Rupnik for years and allegedly played a direct role in lifting his excommunication in 2020.