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Colleen DulleJune 28, 2024
Boston Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley delivers the homily during Mass at Life Fest at the D.C. Armory in Washington Jan. 19, 2024, ahead of the annual March for Life. (OSV News photo/Jeffrey Bruno, Knights of Columbus)

Cardinal Seàn O’Malley, the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, has written a letter to all the departments of the Roman Curia urging them to stop using the artwork of the former Jesuit priest Marko Rupnik, who is currently under investigation for sexual abuse.

“Pastoral prudence would prevent displaying artwork in a way that could imply either exoneration or a subtle defense” of alleged perpetrators of abuse “or indicate indifference to the pain and suffering of so many victims of abuse,” the cardinal wrote in his June 26 letter, according to a press release issued today, the eve of his 80th birthday.

“We must avoid sending a message that the Holy See is oblivious to the psychological distress that so many are suffering,” the cardinal wrote.

In the press release, Cardinal O’Malley reveals that “victims and survivors of power abuse, spiritual abuse, and sexual abuse have reached out to [the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors] to express their increasing frustration and concern at the continued use of artwork by Father Marko Rupnik by several Vatican offices, including the Dicastery for Communications.”

The letter was sent on behalf of the commission to all of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the offices that handle church-related matters in the Vatican, including the communications dicastery. It came just days after the head of that dicastery, Paolo Ruffini, defended his office’s continued use of Father Rupnik’s artwork in new articles on its website.

Speaking in response to questions from America and OSV news service at the Catholic Media Conference in Atlanta, Ga., on June 21, Mr. Ruffini said that while new photos of Father Rupnik’s artwork were not being added to the website, there were no plans to take down existing photos. The dicastery continues to use existing photos of Father Rupnik’s artwork in new articles, most recently in a “Saint of the Day” post for today’s feast of St. Irenaeus.

Mr. Ruffini offered three justifications for the use of Father Rupnik’s artwork: first, that the Vatican investigation into Father Rupnik is not complete; second, that as Christians, “we should not throw stones”; and third, that “removing, deleting, destroying art does not ever mean a good choice.” The comments were met with widespread disapproval, especially amongCatholiccommentators.

Cardinal O’Malley, according to his press release, wrote to the Vatican dicasteries that “while the presumption of innocence during such an investigation should be respected, the Holy See and its offices must ‘exercise wise pastoral prudence and compassion toward those harmed by clerical sexual abuse.’”

“Pope Francis has urged us to be sensitive to and walk in solidarity with those harmed by all forms of abuse,” he added. “I ask you to bear this in mind when choosing images to accompany the publication of messages, articles and reflections through the various communication channels available to us.”

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