Pope Showcases Jesuit Abuser’s Art in Video on Mary

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 6, 2023   

Francis' artist friend accused of sexually abusing over 25 nuns

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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis is showcasing the artwork of his close friend and fellow Jesuit Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, who has been accused of sexually abusing over 25 religious sisters. 

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil

Despite demands for the predator priest's mosaic artworks to be expunged from cathedrals and churches, Francis used a Rupnik icon of Mary to send papal greetings in a brief video message to the XVI Marian Congress in Aparecida, Brazil. 

The video, shot on a mobile phone in the  papal apartments, was posted on the Vatican News website and YouTube on Friday. Vatican News referred to the video but did not attribute the icon to Fr. Rupnik.

As the camera focuses on the icon of the Madonna and child, Pope Francis says, "He is God, who has the fullness of the law in one hand. But He is [also] man, and He has to hold on to the mantle of the Virgin so as not to fall." 

Explaining the symbolism in the Rupnik mosaic, the pope adds, "And she goes down, with the hands of the Virgin that serves as a ladder. It is Mary who brings us to Jesus. She became the possibility, the ladder, for this descent of Jesus, who is God, and brought it to us."

The congress, which began on June 1, is based on the theme of "the Mariology of Pope Francis." Organizers said that the richness of Marian spirituality "resounds strongly in the heart of Pope Francis," especially in his call for Catholics "to be a synodal Church," following Mary who is "mother, sister, companion and the perfect model of disciple–missionary." 

 It is Mary who brings us to Jesus.

Sources familiar with the interior of the current papal residence said that the Rupnik mosaic is located in one of the rooms in Casa Santa Marta.  

Rupnik is responsible for creating and installing the mosaics that now cover the facades of the National Sanctuary of Our Lady of Aparecida.

Pope Francis did not respond to the sisters of the Loyola community in Ljubljana, who wrote three letters in the summer of 2021 informing the pontiff of the abuses perpetrated by Fr. Rupnik, Church Militant reported


Instead, the pope welcomed the 68-year-old Rupnik — a world-renowned creator of neo-Byzantine mosaics and the founder of the Rome-based Aletti Center — to a private audience on Jan. 3, 2022, according to the daily bulletin issued by the Holy See Press Office.

In January 2020, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith convicted Rupnik of sacramentally absolving a sexual accomplice, but the excommunication was lifted by what has been characterized as the direct intervention of Pope Francis.

Questions continue to be raised over whether Pope Francis personally intervened to lift Rupnik's excommunication after it was imposed by the DDF to punish the Jesuit for sacramentally absolving a sexual accomplice.

It is inconceivable that Pope Francis was not informed of the status of the conviction.

"One aspect that is little noted is the fact that the Holy Father usually meets every week with the prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and other superiors of the dicastery upon need," canonist Marc Balestrieri told the National Catholic Register.

"It is inconceivable that Pope Francis was not informed by the prefect, Cdl. Ladaria Ferrer, of the status of the conviction of Fr. Rupnik, or his petition to be absolved from his excommunication, unless Fr. Rupnik had succeeded in bypassing the congregation and obtaining directly from Francis, absolution," the canonist said. 

Rupnik's mosaics dominate the facade of Aparecida basilica

"Given the celerity with which Father Rupnik obtained the absolution from his excommunication, it is entirely possible that he simply approached Pope Francis directly and had his request mercifully granted without any further ado," Balestrieri added.

Fifteen new victims came forward to testify against the Jesuit artist in February, in addition to earlier accusations of Rupnik's abuse of at least 20 nuns.

In January 2022, the DDF dismissed the case of the Slovenian nuns from the Loyola Community against Rupnik on the grounds that it was beyond the statute of limitations. 

In the latest development on the scandal, Church Militant reported that Rupnik had not only broken his vow of chastity but was openly flouting his vow of poverty. 

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.

Ten percent of the company is owned by the Jesuit's partner, Manuela Viezzoli, a former sister of the Skupnosti Loyola ("Loyola Community"), which was co-founded by Rupnik in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Victims of clerical sex abuse have refused to meet for prayer in the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II in Kraków because Rupnik's mosaics adorn the interior of the main chapel. 

"Information about the excommunication and trial of Fr. Marko Rupnik" has "raised doubts whether the Sanctuary can remain a place of these meetings," a victims' statement announced. 

Will the injured people feel safe here? 

"Will the injured people feel safe here? Will it not be painful and scandalous for them?" the victims asked. "We are aware that the perception of prayer in this place can be very different, especially for wounded people who are deeply traumatized by sexual abuse."

Since 2019, victims of clerical sex abuse have been meeting once a month at the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II for a silent, hour-long adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Twice a year, the shrine also hosts prayers and open meetings for people supporting victims.

"After consultation with the hosts of the Sanctuary, we decided to move the adoration from the church with mosaics down to the chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus," the statement said. "We feel even more mobilized to show solidarity and pray for people hurt by Fr. Marko Rupnik."


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