Why Is Pope Protecting a Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse and Using His Crude Art at the Vatican?

Catholics erupted with indignation after Rupnik’s artwork, printed on the cover of the Book of the Gospels, was held aloft in procession at the installation of US papal nuncio Cardinal Christoph Pierre to his titular church of St. Benedict Outside St. Paul's Gate, Rome, on April 21. Michael Haynes via X

Marko Rupnik is credibly accused of molesting 25 nuns, some in blasphemous occult rituals.

By Jules Gomes Published on May 1, 2024

Editor’s Note: This story contains sexually graphic information and descriptions of shocking blasphemies.

Pope Francis is facing an avalanche of pressure to defrock Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, a celebrity priest and personal friend of the pope, after the ex-Jesuit’s artwork was prominently displayed at a Mass for the installation of the papal ambassador to the US on April 21.

Rupnik, a world-famous mosaic artist, has been credibly accused of sexually, physically, emotionally, and psychologically abusing at least 25 nuns — sometimes in groups, and sometimes forcing them to drink his bodily fluids from a consecrated chalice.

While global outrage over the allegations forced Francis last October to lift the statute of limitations preventing Rupnik from facing a church trial, the Vatican has thus far failed to reveal if it has begun judicial procedures against him.

Rupnik Artwork on Book of the Gospels

A cascade of complaints was unleashed on social media and in the Catholic press after the Vatican published its Annuario Pontificio (Pontifical Yearbook) for 2024 with Rupnik listed as a consultor for the Dicastery for Divine Worship.

Days after Catholic media outlets exposed the scandal, the Vatican body in charge of regulating the liturgy for the Roman Church scrubbed the priest’s name from its website.

Rupnik was excommunicated in May 2020 for absolving a sexual partner in sacramental confession, but was rehabilitated within a month due to the direct intervention of the Holy See. Though Pope Francis denies it, many believe he personally ordered that action.

In March, the Centro Aletti, an art studio Rupnik cofounded in Rome, confirmed to a Rome-based journalist that Rupnik was continuing to live at the center even though several nuns alleged that he had seduced and abused them on the premises.

Bishop Licenses Predator Priest

Despite the heinous accusations against Rupnik, the testimonies of multiple victims, and his expulsion from the Society of Jesus, Rupnik was incardinated into the diocese of Koper in his native Slovenia by Bishop Jurij Bizjak last October. This gives him ecclesiastical license to hear confessions and exercise public ministry anywhere in the world.

Laura Sgrò, a lawyer known for her role in multiple Vatican cases, filed five new complaints from Rupnik’s victims to the Holy See in April, bringing the total number of complaints against the priest to at least 20.

Two of the new complainants, former nuns Miriam Kovac and Gloria Branciani, shared public testimonies against Rupnik at a press conference in February.

The Jesuits expelled the Slovenian priest from their ranks in June 2023 — not because he had violated his vow of chastity or even his vow of poverty while running a million-euro art company, but because he broke his vow of obedience by infringing travel restrictions imposed on him.

Rupnik owns 90% of Rossoroblu, a limited liability company registered in Italy which recorded a turnover of 1,176,500 euros and a profit of 119,607 euros in 2022, the Italian newspaper Domani reported. The other 10% is owned by Rupnik’s collaborator Manuela Viezzoli, a former sister of the Loyola Community (Skupnost Loyola) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where the abuser perpetrated much of his sexual abuse against the nuns.

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