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Inside the VaticanFebruary 28, 2024
Gloria Branciani, a former religious sister of the Loyola Community during a news conference at the Italian National Press Federation in Rome Feb. 21, 2024 discussing abuse she suffered. Mirjam Kovac, another of Father Rupnik's alleged victim, is pictured in the background. (CNS photo/Justin McLellan)

Five years after Pope Francis convened a global summit on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, two previously anonymous alleged victims of Father Marko Rupnik decided to go public and tell of the alleged abuses they suffered at the hands of the prolific priest-artist.

At a press conference held Feb. 21 at the Rome headquarters of the Italian National Press Federation, Gloria Branciani and Mirjam Kovac spoke publicly about the spiritual, psychological and sexual abuses they experienced. They implored Vatican authorities to be transparent about the ongoing investigation into Father Rupnik’s alleged abuses by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org, a U.S.-based organization that tracks and maintains a database of clergy and consecrated religious accused of abuse, convened the press conference calling for a McCarrick-style report into the alleged buses.

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On “Inside the Vatican,” guest host Ricardo da Silva, S.J., filling in for Colleen Dulle, recaps the Rupnik case before interviewing his co-host, veteran Vatican reporter Gerard O’Connell, who attended the two-hour press conference, which drew around 100 members of the global mainstream media.

“There were about 40 sisters, consecrated women in the order,” Gerry recounts, describing the Loyola community in Slovenia as detailed in the testimonies of the two women. “They claimed that perhaps 21 out of the 40 were abused; either abuse of conscience, abuse of power, spiritually abused, or sexually abused,” Gerry continues. “Here was a very charismatic spiritual guru, if you wish, an artist, being recognized at high levels in the church—and finding protection at high levels—and here were women who were in a community, but not having much chance to have their story listened to. It’s a constant in all this whole abuse saga.”

In the second half of the show, Ricardo and Gerry discuss the next steps in the Rupnik case, particularly following the priest’s expulsion from the Jesuits last year and his subsequent transfer into a diocese in Slovenia, despite pending investigations by the D.D.F. into his history of alleged abuses in the Loyola Community.

Gerry reports that the dicastery has interviewed all the alleged victims and has all but concluded its investigation. “He risks, I understand, being removed from the priesthood,” Gerry says. “But, at the end of the day, I’m told, because of the process that is underway in the dicastery, it’ll be the pope who has to make that final decision.”

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