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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University has fired serial abuser Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik and has ordered all references to the celebrity artist to be scrubbed from its website.
At a meeting of deans on Tuesday, rector Fr. Mark A. Lewis insisted that Rupnik could no longer act as moderator over the two doctoral students he was supervising, even though one of the students is nearing the end of his thesis writing, a Gregorian source told Church Militant.
Father Lewis, a church historian respected by his confreres for his integrity, has also canceled all future university-related activities of the predator priest who sexually, spiritually and physically abused at least 20 religious sisters in Slovenia and Italy.
The deans have been asked to find alternate supervisors for Rupnik's two doctoral students: Lukáš Jambor (faculty of missiology) and Mateus Lopes (faculty of theology).
Rupnik was a professor at the university until 2020 and taught courses on inculturation, mission and art.
Even though he has had little association with the prestigious school, the Jesuit's profile on the Aletti Center website states that "he teaches at the Pontifical Gregorian University."
Several institutions have withdrawn their association with Rupnik, and Slovenia's minister of culture, Asta Vrečko, has asked the abuser to renounce the Grand Prešeren prize awarded to him in 2020. But the Aletti Center continues to promote Rupnik's presentations.
On the Feast of the Epiphany, the Slovenian Jesuits issued a statement asking for forgiveness from the victims and the sisters of the Loyola Community — described by one victim as a "hunting reserve" for the predator priest.
Previously, Fr. Miran Žvanut, the Jesuit provincial of Slovenia, dismissed the accusations against his confrere as "quite inflated and with a lot of untruths."
Žvanut attempted to deflect the media story in his statement on Dec. 13, claiming that the restrictions on Rupnik's ministry imposed by the Society of Jesus were only "precautionary measures" in the "context of the preliminary investigation."
"Precautionary measures are just something normal when there are accusations of this type or similar against a religious," Žvanut stated.
The provincial also ignored a letter written by one of Rupnik's victims, who was forced by the priest into watching pornography and having a threesome with another nun.
"It is obvious that, as a province in the past, we did not know how to listen to the victims and take appropriate action to clear up the issues and put an end to the suffering," the latest statement from the Slovenian Jesuits acknowledged. "We fully accept and understand the indignation, anger and disappointment of the victims and their loved ones."
Based on the published testimonies of the abused nuns, the Jesuits admitted that "their confessions undoubtedly show that the competent church leaders did not take appropriate action, as a result of which the unsuspected suffering of a number of women increased and was prolonged."
"We believe in the sincerity of the nuns and other victims who spoke about their suffering and other circumstances regarding emotional, sexual and spiritual abuse by our brother," the statement said.
"Fr. Rupnik has been working in Rome since 1993, so the leadership of the Jesuit order in Rome is directly responsible for it," the statement explained.
"We Slovenian Jesuits do not have direct information about the proceedings against the mentioned brother, and our possibilities of action are also limited," it added.
However, the province said it would "support the leadership of our order in their efforts to get to the bottom of the matter and take appropriate action" because "we all want the whole truth to come out, which will allow everyone involved to get justice."
Church Militant earlier contacted Fr. Žvanut twice and asked why he continued to defend Rupnik despite evidence of the abuse. On Dec. 30, the provincial responded to this apostolate by saying that the province would "publish a statement on its website in the next few days."
Just before Christmas, after three weeks of silence, the Slovenian bishops issued a press release that condemned Rupnik's "acts of emotional, sexual, and spiritual violence and gross abuse of the sacrament of reconciliation" as "unacceptable" and "despicable."
The statement notes that on Wednesday, the prelates summoned an extraordinary session of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference after they learned of "the discovery of abuses" by the Jesuit mosaic artist and "after the Jesuit superiors confirmed the veracity of the facts."
Pope Francis and the Vatican have remained silent on Rupnik — who is a friend and advisor of the pontiff. Francis is reported to have rehabilitated the abuser a month after Rupnik was excommunicated for absolving a sexual partner in sacramental confession.
Despite the explosive revelations in the Italian media since Dec. 1, the Vatican has featured a painting by Rupnik on the cover of its latest stamp volume released on Dec. 22, 2022, Church Militant reported.
The stamp collection volume, priced at 95 euros, features Rupnik's depiction of the wedding at Cana in Galilee. In June 2022, it was used as the logo for the 10th World Meeting of Families.
"The Postal and Philatelic Service is pleased to offer collectors the traditional annual volume that brings together the entire Vatican philatelic production and postal cancelations in use in 2022," a Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office press release announced.
In an interview published Wednesday with the heterodox National Catholic Reporter, Pope Francis' lead clergy-abuse investigator, Maltese Abp. Charles Scicluna, refused to comment on the Rupnik scandal.