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A screen grab shows Father Marko Runic giving a Lenten meditation in the Vatican March 6, 2020. (OSV News Photo/CNS)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has reached out to known victims of Slovenian Father Marko Rupnik, asking to meet with them.

The purpose of the invitation, written by a member of the 19-member papal body, was to examine and study how the victims were treated by the church, specifically the Jesuits—the religious order Father Rupnik was expelled from in June—and the Vatican, Il Sismografo, an Italian blog that closely follows the Vatican, reported Oct. 25.

Catholic News Service confirmed the invitation Oct. 26, and Il Sismografo published later that same day the full text of the invitation, which had been sent by email Oct. 8 to those victims whose contact information could be found on the Internet.

"The reason for this email is to share with you the concern that the Pontifical Commission has regarding the treatment that you and the other victims of the Rupnik Case have received throughout a process that we know has been extremely painful and frustrating for you, your families and an important sector of the Church, regarding the listening, investigation, follow-up, support and communication provided to you," said the letter, signed by Patricia Espinosa Hernández, a commission member since 2022 and a psychiatrist and psychotherapist from Mexico specializing in criminal psychology and the profiling and evaluation of victims of abuse and sex offenders.

"It is because of this deep concern that the current Pontifical Commission, responding to the mandate it has been given, seeks to review the processes and actions that were carried out in your particular case, to identify how all this may have affected the legitimacy of your complaint, your rights and the support and accompaniment that were not given to you," the letter said.

The outreach to Father Rupnik's victims is not a legal review of their cases, it said, as commission members "do not have the power to modify the existing verdict, nor to intervene in the decisions made by the court and corresponding instances."

The outreach to Father Rupnik's victims is not a legal review of their cases, as commission members "do not have the power to modify the existing verdict, nor to intervene in the decisions made by the court and corresponding instances."

The study, which "will be conducted confidentially and with the utmost respect for your personal experience," it said, will focus "exclusively on reviewing the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of the attention given to the victims—psychological, medical, spiritual, pastoral, legal—as well as the canonically established procedures throughout the process."

"We know that, like in your case, abuses of power, of conscience and sexual abuse are many within the church and therefore it is essential to review what is currently being done and compare it with the protocols and procedures that currently exist in order to identify weaknesses and propose appropriate recommendations for future similar cases, seeking to improve the system as a whole," it said.

Father Rupnik, who has been accused of sexually, spiritually or psychologically abusing more than 20 women and at least one man over a 40-year period, was reportedly recently accepted into the Diocese of Koper, Slovenia, the diocese where he was ordained a priest in 1985.

Father Rupnik, who has been accused of sexually, spiritually or psychologically abusing more than 20 women and at least one man over a 40-year period, was reportedly recently accepted into the Diocese of Koper, Slovenia.

In December 2022, the Jesuits said Father Rupnik was operating under restrictions on his ministry because of abuse allegations and that the then-Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had confirmed he was briefly excommunicated in 2020 for absolving in confession a woman with whom he had had sex. The excommunication was lifted after he apparently repented. The Jesuits later expelled Father Rupnik for refusing to uphold his vow of obedience and confront the allegations against him.

Father Rupnik is a well-known artist and spiritual adviser who co-founded the female Loyola Community in Ljubljana, Slovenia, with Sister Ivanka Hosta, who was recently removed from her position as superior of the religious community and sanctioned for an abusive style of governance, the Portuguese website 7MARGENS reported Sept. 25. The decree imposing three penalties on Sister Hosta was signed by Auxiliary Bishop Daniele Libanori of Rome, who was appointed to investigate the community.

More: Vatican

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