Shocking new abuse accusations against Papal favourite Rupnik

Shocking testimony from an alleged victim of the Slovenian priest already suspected of psychological and sexual abuse. At what stage are the Vatican's investigations?

"He broke my finger and said it was the Jesuit seal." New accusations from a former nun against Rupnik


A new testimony casts further shadows on the figure of Don Marko Rupnik, a Slovenian theologian and artist famous throughout the world for his mosaics and expelled last summer from the Society of Jesus after the superiors considered the degree of credibility of the accusations of abuse made against him "very high". Despite this, in October the Diocese of Koper agreed to incardinate the former Jesuit. The controversy resulting from this decision led the Pope, under pressure from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, to grant an exemption from the statute of limitations to allow a trial by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on the cases of abuse alleged against Rupnik at the time of his stay in the Loyola Community in the nineties.

"Arrogant and narcissistic, he broke my finger"

Precisely a former nun of the Loyola Community, founded in Ljubljana at the end of the 1980s by Sister Ivanka Hosta and which a month ago was closed by the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life due to "serious problems regarding the exercise of authority and community coexistence", pointed the finger at Rupnik's behavior at the time when he acted as spiritual director of the Ignatian-inspired community. The woman told journalist Federica Tourn of the newspaper Domani: "Once, sitting at the table facing each other, Rupnik said to me: 'now let's see who is stronger!'. He grabbed my hands on the table and, palm up palm, began to press with great force. I screamed that it hurt, but he didn't stop." In the end, the then Jesuit would have put such pressure on the novice's hand to the point of breaking her index finger. The alleged victim continues: "Rupnik did not apologize. He remained calm and said: 'now you have the permanent seal of the Society of Jesus'. And he added: 'I did it out of love.'

The facts date back to the early 1990s, when the Slovenian artist also acted as confessor to all the novices, causing terror in the then novice who told Tourn: "Rupnik was extremely arrogant and narcissistic (... )I didn't want him to be my confessor, but we had no freedom of choice. Once, during confession, he locked the room in the Aletti Center where we were and put the key in his pocket." The Aletti Center is the creation that Rupnik founded in Rome in 1991 and where he moved, bringing with him three sisters from the Loyola Community. This place was at the center of other testimonies from alleged victims: at the end of 2022 another former nun had also told Tourn that the artist would have asked her to have threesome sex with another nun from the Community in his room in Rome, claiming that "sexuality, according to him, had to be free from possession, in the image of the Trinity". This former nun also reported "very violent masturbation" and that she was taken twice, again by Rupnik, to some porn cinemas on the outskirts of the capital.

The mystery of excommunication

Despite the various testimonies of women who reported having been victims of psychological and even sexual abuse by the former Jesuit, the Aletti Center did not distance itself from its founder and in a statement dated 17 June 2023, a few days after the news of the dismissal from the Society of Jesus, contested the actions of the Jesuits and branded the scandal that emerged as part of a "media campaign based on defamatory and unproven accusations". The statement bears the signature of Maria Campatelli, director of the Center, then received in audience by Francesco, only three months after that defense. Three days after that meeting in the Vatican, the vicariate of Rome closed the canonical visit conducted in the Center following the revelations about Rupnik first made public by the websites and Silere non possum. In a note with rather unusual content, the Vicariate not only praised the association in which there is "a healthy community life free of particular critical issues" but even went so far as to question the work of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who in May 2020 had excommunicated Rupnik for the acquittal of his accomplice in the sin against the sixth commandment. An excommunication that did not last long and over which hovers the mystery linked to the responsibility for his revocation.

A powerful priest

Rupnik, on the other hand, is not just any priest. He is one of the best-known figures of the contemporary Church, not only for his mosaics created all over the world. In Lent 2020, shortly before he was excommunicated and therefore while his trial was already underway at the former Holy Office, the Slovenian theologian was called to hold spiritual exercises at the Roman Curia. In 2016 he concelebrated with Pope Francis the mass in the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican for the 25th anniversary of the Aletti Center which was inaugurated by his predecessor John Paul II as a bridge with Eastern Orthodoxy through art. The Holy See, precisely by virtue of the pre-eminent position and high-level contacts that the former Slovenian Jesuit has had in recent years within the ecclesiastical hierarchies, cannot afford further vagueness in the management of the case. The opportunity to demonstrate that the Church's attitude on the abuse dossier, beyond the proclamations, has definitively changed may come from the transparency that will be seen in the Rupnik trial permitted by the exception to the statute of limitations. But after the announcement last October, nothing is known about the examination of the case which is the responsibility of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.