Exposing a Religious Community’s Depraved History

News: World News
by William Mahoney, Ph.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  September 29, 2023   

Loyola Community 'flawed from the start'

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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Loyola Community, an organization associated with a now-notorious priest and artist, is undergoing heavy scrutiny due to allegations of sexual and spiritual abuse by prominent members. 

In a series of articles published this week, 7Margens, an independent news organization based in Portugal, explored how the women's religious institution at the Skupnost Loyola (Loyola Community) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which ex-Jesuit and artist Fr. Marco Ivan Rupnik helped establish, was "flawed from the start."

According to the first article, the series covers "how the transition occurred from the priest's sexual and power abuses to the authoritarianism and spiritual abuses of the general superior for over three decades." 

Fr. Marco Rupnik

The Loyola Community's origins date back to the 1980s, with Rupnik, a Slovenian Jesuit, playing a central role in its formation and recruitment of women. He exercised significant control over its members. Reports of sexual and spiritual abuse by Rupnik, however, began to surface in the late 1980s and persisted into the 1990s. The community obtained formal recognition by Church authorities in 1994. 

Cover-ups and silence by the Jesuits and the Roman Curia, apparently including the pope, have further deepened the crisis.

In June, Church Militant reported Rupnik was expelled from the Society of Jesus for his persistent refusal to adhere to the vow of obedience. Initially restricted to Rome, Rupnik violated this confinement by traveling to oversee art projects in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Despite the Jesuit superiors' belief in the credibility of allegations against Rupnik, they extended an opportunity for him to change communities and address his past actions through a new mission, which he declined.

rome dispatch: Pope Francis Meets Sexual Predator's Defender

His travels outside Rome, including to Croatia and Bosnia, were viewed as significant breaches of imposed restrictions. Despite ongoing investigations and penalties, Rupnik continued to engage in public activities, including concelebrating Mass in Rome. 

The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith had previously excommunicated Rupnik for his role in sacramentally absolving a sexual accomplice. Italian media outlet Messa in Latino reported that Pope Francis lifted the excommunication.

The controversy surrounding his artwork in religious settings remains unresolved, with some of his pieces still in use despite calls for their removal. For instance, his artwork is still being featured in material for October's Synod on Synodality, beginning on Oct. 4 in Rome.

Sr. Ivanka Hosta

The report from Portugal also cites troubles tied to Sr. Ivanka Hosta, with whom Rupnik cofounded the Skupnost Loyola. She recently faced disciplinary action for her alleged abusive exercise of power. A disciplinary decree issued on June 21 by Bp. Daniele Libanori reprimanded Hosta for her harmful style of governance within the Loyola Community.

Bp. Daniele Libanori 

The decree imposed three penalties on Hosta, with the most significant being a prohibition from assuming positions in governance or spiritual direction within the community. This decision followed years of tension and controversy within the organization, the report noted.

A conflict between Hosta and Rupnik in 1993 led to the division of the community into two factions. Hosta's penalties, the report said, are rooted in her leadership style and actions during this tumultuous period, and further investigation is expected to clarify her role as the general superior.

The situation escalated when some nuns learned of the abuses suffered by their fellow sisters in 1993, leading to internal complaints and reports to ecclesiastical authorities. The archbishop of Ljubljana removed Rupnik from the community in 1993, but under Hosta's leadership, unrest within the community seemed to intensify, the report observed.

Cover-Up on Multiple Fronts

The governance style within the Loyola Community, the report added, was characterized by surveillance, repression and the suppression of individual members' consciences. The victims of abuse within the community, it noted, have not received adequate support or reparation from the Catholic Church.

The report claims critics have also pointed to the Society of Jesus, to which Rupnik formerly belonged, for its handling of the abuse allegations and for not adequately addressing victims' needs.

The case has had far-reaching and ongoing negative effects on the Catholic Church.

Recent complaints and testimonies of abuse from various sources have been deemed credible and further actions are awaited. The ongoing Rupnik case, involving allegations of abuse within the Loyola Community, has had far-reaching and ongoing negative effects on the Catholic Church and society, the report emphasized.

Rupnik's worldwide recognition as an artist, theologian and spiritual leader has magnified the impact of the abuse revelations and cover-ups. Despite the scandal only becoming public in Dec. 2022, allegations of prior knowledge, cover-ups and silence by the Jesuits and the Roman Curia, apparently including the pope, have further deepened the crisis.

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