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Rupnik still listed as Vatican consultant as DDF trial continues…

Rupnik still listed as Vatican consultant as DDF trial continues…

Rupnik still listed as Vatican consultant as DDF trial continues Skip to content

Fr. Marko Rupnik, the disgraced religious artist and alleged serial sexual abuser, remains listed as an official consultant at a major Vatican department, despite his ongoing canonical process and past expulsion from the Society of Jesus.

According to the website of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the priest remains listed as an expert consultor to the Vatican department following his appointment to the post in 2022.

Fr. Marko Rupnik. Pillar file photo.

Consultants to Vatican dicasteries serve as officially appointed expert advisors to the Roman curia on issues central to the governance of the universal Church. The appointments are usually made for a set, renewable, term of five years.

However, despite the years of accusation and scandal over the allegations of sexual abuse brought against Rupnik by dozens of religious sisters, the Dicastery for Divine Worship has not terminated his appointment — according to its own website.

It is not clear if Rupnik remains a consultor at the dicastery because of a positive decision to retain him by the department’s prefect, Cardinal Arthur Roche, despite the years of scandal, or if the department has simply omitted to remove Rupnik from his post. 

Meanwhile, at least one other Vatican department to which the priest was appointed has removed Rupnik as a consultor since he became the subject of sexual abuse allegations.

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In October last year, Pope Francis announced that he had waived the canonical statute of limitations on allegations against the priest, and instructed the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith — the Church’s highest disciplinary court — to initiate a new process against the cleric.

According to the Vatican press office at the time, the pope made the decision after “the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors brought to the pope’s attention that there were serious problems in the handling of the Fr. Marko Rupnik case and lack of outreach to victims.”

The Vatican later ordered the closure of a religious community co-founded by the mosaic artist.

The Society of Jesus has already, according to its superiors, conducted a lengthy investigation into Rupnik’s alleged abuse and found a “high degree” of evidence against him, though instead of pursuing the priest’s laicization, the Jesuits opted to expel him from the order for “disobedience.” 

The DDF has previously examined the allegations against Rupnik and declined to waive the statute of limitations to allow a prosecution to go forward, but in doing so essentially confirmed there was otherwise a case for the priest to answer.

After being expelled from the Society of Jesus last year, Rupnik was incardinated by his home bishop in the Slovenian Diocese of Koper where “as long as Rev. Rupnik has not been found guilty in a public trial in court, he enjoys all the rights and duties of diocesan priests,” according to the diocese.

In addition to Rupnik remaining listed as an expert consulter to the DDW, despite his expulsion from the Society of Jesus last year and his ongoing canonical criminal process at the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the timing of Rupnik’s appointment as a consulter in 2022 has previously raised questions.

In 2019, Rupnik, then a prominent member of the Society of Jesus, was accused of attempting to sacramentally absolve a sexual partner — one of the most serious crimes in canon law — with the charges stemming from sexual contact with a religious novice in 2015.

The priest faced an extrajudicial penal process authorized by the DDF. In 2020, he was found guilty of a graviora delicta – a major crime, in Church law – and declared excommunicated.

The excommunication was remitted soon after it was declared.

According to statements from the Jesuits, Rupnik was placed under “restricted ministry” conditions as early as 2019, when they first received the allegation of attempted absolution of a sexual partner. 

Rupnik continued to teach, lecture, and receive high-profile artistic commissions throughout that time, and was named as a consultant to several Vatican dicasteries — including the DDW and the Dicastery for Clergy. 

But after listing Rupnik as recently as 2022, the Dicastery for Clergy has since renewed its slate of consultors and removed the priest, Vatican records show.

Rupnik’s apparent continued position at the Dicastery for Divine Worship comes amid an ongoing debate in the Church about how to deal with the influential artist’s work and legacy, in the light of the accusations against him. 

Rupnik has been the focus of a scandal that has rocked the Catholic world since November 2022, when Italian blogs first reported that the 68-year-old had been accused of abusing women religious in the 1990s.

Since then, multiple alleged victims have come forward saying the priest sexually and blasphemously abused them over decades as part of his artistic process. 

One alleged victim described her experience with Rupnik as a “descent into Hell.

While Rupnik’s case has been a source of constant scandal in the Church since 2022, the priest has retained influential supporters, despite the allegations against him.

In February, two of Rupnik’s alleged victims told a press conference in Rome that they were sexually and spiritually abused for decades by the priest, but that Church authorities had ignored their complaints.

One of the alleged victims, Gloria Branciani, citied a climate of “deafening silence” around allegations against Rupnik, and told how she had been ostracized from the community after reporting the priest’s increasingly violent sexual abuse.

Last year, the Diocese of Rome, where many of Rupnik’s crimes are alleged to have been committed, issued a public statement in favor of Rupnik, questioned the legitimacy of his canonical prosecution.

A report from the Roman diocese also praised member’s of Rupnik community at the Centro Aletti for “maintaining silence” about the scores of accusations that Rupnik spiritually and sexually abused women, including through overtly sacrilegious sexual acts.

The Vatican’s own Dicastery for Communications has continued to use Rupnik’s artwork in public documents and promotional materials throughout the scandal.

In recent months, the Vatican has declined to respond to media questions regarding Rupnik.

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