To be able to move forward as a community and build Christ's Church, we need the truth. But can it really be said that Francis is any guarantee of truth?

News about the Slovenian priest and renowned artist Marko Ivan Rupnik has been raising dust in the media for almost a year now. It is not only a Slovenian matter, but the whole world is dealing with it, even Pope Francis is not excluded from the events. Conflicting information appears in the media, which creates discord among people. Even the latest information that Rupnik was accepted among the diocesan priests by Koper Bishop Jurij Bizjak divided people again.

The division into two poles can be seen at all levels: from the Vatican, Slovenian bishops and among Slovenian believers.

Between "highly credible allegations" and "innocent until proven guilty"

In 2021, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith received accusations from former nuns from the Loyola community against Marko Ivan Rupnik, which the Vatican decided not to investigate, as the case was officially time-barred.

In December, just before Christmas, the news broke that the Superior of the Jesuits, Fr. Arturo Sosa confirmed that Rupnik was excommunicated from the Church because of the absolution of an accomplice, that is to say, that a woman with whom he himself had sex confessed to having sex with him and he then gave her absolution. After his confession and remorse, the excommunication was revoked.

The head of the international Jesuit houses in Rome, Fr. Johan Verschueren, who was responsible for Marko Ivan Rupnik while he was still a Jesuit, ordered Rupnik to i. precautionary measures were taken to limit his activities: he was no longer allowed to lead spiritual exercises, confess and appear in public without the permission of the local superior.

Since last December, the special group has been gathering new testimonies from Rupnik's victims and trying to get Rupnik to face the charges and meet with the victims. In February of this year, it was announced that 15 more victims had come forward. From the fact that people who do not know each other told about similar experiences with Fr. Rupnik in different periods from the mid-80s to 2018, they concluded that the credibility of the testimonies is high.

During all this time, Marko Ivan Rupnik did not comply with the measures imposed on him, he did not face the victims, nor did he appear in public to hear his side of the story.

The Jesuits tried in various ways to solve the case, but in the end "due to his stubborn refusal to take the vow of obedience" they decided to expel him from the Jesuit order.

In September, the Roman Vicariate, headed by Cardinal De Donatis, who is considered Rupnik's friend, gave a report on the completed canonical visitation at the Aletta Center. They concluded that "healthy community life without specific critical factors" takes place at the Aletti Center.

The Pope welcomed the leader of the Aletti Center, Maria Campatelli, to the audience, who repeatedly defended Rupnik in public, saying that the Jesuit leadership, with its publications, caused Rupnik and the entire Aletti Center to be exposed to "forms of public lynching". She never spoke a word about the victims, even though she herself was a loyalist until the split in the community.

The latest news came from the Diocese of Koper: that Rupnik was accepted among the diocesan priests on the grounds that he is innocent "until he is found guilty in accordance with the law, in a public proceeding, in which he is given all the options necessary for his defense ". And this despite the fact that Rupnik's former superior, Fr. Johan Verschueren warned Bishop Bizjak of Koper that Rupnik was expelled for disobedience.

Let's remember. In December 2022, all Slovenian bishops unanimously adopted a statement condemning all of Rupnik's emotional, sexual and spiritual acts of violence and gross abuse of the sacrament of reconciliation.

Various echoes on social networks

We see how all this conflicting information from various church institutions has created confusion among people. More than a hundred comments have been collected on the Druž Facebook page alone, which can be divided into those who approve of the Koper bishop's move and those who are appalled by it.

Those who approve of the Koper bishop's move see Rupnik as a prodigal son, point out that we are all sinners and praise the mercy shown to those who repent. Those who see the move as bad write that too much damage has already been caused to the faithful and see it as an additional blow to the Slovenian church; they say that the diocese rejects godparents because of living "on the corn", and they do not see the accusations against Rupnik as problematic.

In the comments, the argument that Rupnik had sexual relations with adult women who even allegedly seduced him is repeatedly raised, but rarely is anyone who understands the power of spiritual abuse and the pain it causes. In the helplessness felt by the victims, some of them publicly identified themselves by name with their testimony, including some Slovenian women.

In order to move forward as a community, we need the truth

And so after almost a year, at a time when a synod is taking place in the Church, we are left with more questions than answers. The key question is: what is the truth? Until the truth comes out and until Rupnik publicly takes responsibility for his actions, this will continue to cause division in the church community.

And how should we preach the gospel when we are divided within ourselves? How should the Church be credible in the fight against sexual abuse in the Church? Just yesterday, in a letter to the people of God, the participants of the synod of bishops in the Vatican expressed the hope that everyone would become collaborators in the missionary community. Among other things, they wrote the following in it: "Above all, the Church of our time is obliged, in the spirit of conversion, to listen to those who have been victims of abuse by members of the church body, and to make a concrete and structural commitment that this will not happen again."

To be able to move forward as a community and build Christ's Church, we need the truth.