Top Wage Earner for the Vatican Expelled from Jesuits is still a Priest; SNAP Responds
(For Immediate Release July 25, 2023)
The Jesuits on July 24 said that a famous artist priest is definitively expelled from the religious order for sexually, spiritually and psychologically abusing women, and lamented they couldn't prosecute him more vigorously under the Vatican's internal procedures.
The priest and artist Father Marko Rupnik, accused of the physical and psychological abuse of numerous religious sisters, was dismissed from the Jesuits last month according to the religious order. In a June 15 statement from the Society of Jesus, Rupnik was expelled due to his "stubborn refusal to observe the vow of obedience."
In response to complaints that Rupnik is still a priest, Father Johan Verschueren, Communication Officer Jesuit Curia (Rome) stated that the Vatican's current laws "precluded an investigation that could have led to a harsher penalty," according to the AP. In June 2021, the Vatican updated its regulations to make clergy abuse of adults illegal, but it did not retrospectively apply those laws to Rupnik's alleged abuse between the years of 1985 and 2018, which the Jesuits' investigation team had determined to be credible.
It is clear to us that the Vatican, specifically the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, never considered time-barred victims when updating the laws for abuse against adults. It is not too late to right the wrong.
Another question raised by the Jesuits' expulsion of their "top" earner. They acknowledge that he is being rightly accused of behaving in a predatory manner, but their decision to fire him comes only after they grew tired of Rupnik’s "stubborn refusal" to submit? Ultimately, that was enough to send him on his way without any real punishment. In our view, this speaks volumes about what the church teaches about truth. The reality is this, the truth can be altered with a price.
The most pressing issue has to do with Father Rupnik's priesthood. Yes, he still is one. A priest's dismissal from a religious order does not remove the collar. Rupnik has been a major source of income for the church, and apparently still has friends among the powerful, so the rules are not really rules for him. It is no secret that great wage earners are revered by the Vatican and thus receive additional protection, Rupnik is no exception.
We believe that being expelled from a priestly community does not prevent an alleged abuser from hurting others in the future. The nine religious women from the Loyola Community in Ljubljana, Slovenia, who came forth bravely to relate their testimonies will receive no justice from Rupnik's current blacklisting. Nuns: don't they deserve justice?
We continue to applaud and support the brave women who have pressed on to hold Rupnik accountable and the Society of Jesus responsible for enabling him. As always, anyone who may suspect, witnessed, or learn of abuse by Fr. Rupnik to immediately report their information authorities.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)