VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - A third Loyola Community nun has testified about the serial sexual and spiritual abuse perpetrated by celebrity Jesuit artist Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik.
Despite the explosive revelations in the Italian media since Dec. 1, the Vatican has featured a painting by Rupnik — a friend and advisor to Pope Francis — on the cover of its latest stamp volume released on Dec. 22, 2022.
"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.
The stamp collection volume, priced at 95 euros, features Rupnik's depiction of the wedding at Cana in Galilee, which was used as the logo for the 10th World Meeting of Families in June 2022. It has been published in Italian, French, English and German.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith investigated Rupnik in 2022 for sexually abusing 20 nuns but declined to prosecute the artist due to the statute of limitations.
Pope Francis, who rehabilitated Rupnik after he was excommunicated in May 2020 for absolving a sexual partner in confession, ignored multiple complaint letters from four victims who wrote to him after the Vatican's doctrine watchdog dropped charges against Rupnik.
Last month, "Anna" and "Esther" (pseudonyms), two sisters from the Skupnost Loyola (Loyola Community) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, revealed the extent of Rupnik's spiritual, psychological, sexual and physical abuse of nuns in Slovenia and Italy.
Anna, an Italian nun and former medical student, described how the artist forced her to watch pornographic movies and engage in a threesome with another sister of the community — in a so-called imitation of the Holy Trinity. The sister says Rupnik almost drove her to suicide.
Esther, a former secretary to Mother Ivanka Hosta (who cofounded the Skupnost Loyola with Rupnik), testified that her mother superior colluded with the serial abuser to cover up his sexual abuse of nuns. Esther revealed that her community "began to function as a real cult."
On Saturday, in an exclusive interview with the Italian newspaper Domani, a third sister, "Roberta," revealed how the Loyola Community served as a "hunting reserve for Rupnik."
Roberta, now 54, said that she met the Jesuit when studying art history at university. She was invited by a fellow student to an exhibition of Rupnik's works held in Gorizia, an Italian town famed for its intellectual and cultural dynamism, which hosts over 1,500 annual artistic events.
"I went there and met him on that occasion: I was looking for a spiritual deepening and those paintings seemed significant to me; besides, he noticed me and showered me with compliments. He had a certain charisma, while I was very insecure," Roberta said.
"I accepted his invitation to do the Ignatian spiritual exercises and in a few months he, showing a platonic infatuation for me, managed to manipulate my religious vocation to the point of forcing me to enter the Loyola Community, which I had never heard of," she added.
Roberta explained how she was attracted to traditional orders "like the Franciscan nuns and the Ursulines," but Rupnik said that "they weren't right for me, and I was destined for something else."
Describing how sexual abuse was "only one aspect of Rupnik's manipulative strategies," the former religious sister told Domani:
In a mass in Stella Matutina, which was then the residence of the Jesuits in Gorizia, he made me swear a solemn oath before God that I would enter the Loyola Community, a vow which for me must have had the value of an indissoluble eternal vow. I suffered and accepted, and from there began my ten years in the community, painful and absurd: a useless, sterile, fruitless sacrifice.
"One day, while I was still a novice, he put his hands on my butt, commenting on its shape with pleasure," Roberta said. "I understood that it was wrong, but he confused me because he cloaked everything in a spiritual aura and justified his open interest in the female form with his being an artist."
"For example, I remember one of his 'lessons' on the importance of the color white in women's underwear and his invitation to wear slightly transparent white blouses that revealed the bra as a sublime sign of purity and spiritual beauty," she recounted.
Roberta also recollected that she and Rupnik attended one of his exhibitions in Maribor, Slovenia, which featured not only "large faces of Christ" but "various paintings with a female theme."
"One, in particular, portrayed a scantily clad woman in an attitude that seemed sensual. This thing caused me some bewilderment, but apparently it went unnoticed in the community," Roberta recalled.
"We even knew which of us had modeled for him; if Ivanka, the superior, had something to say, I never knew. At that moment I clearly thought that something was wrong, but I told myself that, if everyone considered it a normal thing, it must be me who was wrong," she noted.
When Roberta was sent to Rome, Rupnik attempted to seduce her at the Aletti Center, his studio in Rome, under the guise of psychological treatment.
"At the second or third appointment for this supposed therapy, he wanted to kiss me on the lips, saying it was 'the healing kiss of the Lord.' I reacted by telling him that I no longer wanted to continue the 'treatment' because I was not sure that he would be able to stop," Roberta revealed.
"Eventually, I ran away and went back to my family; thanks to my mother's care I was able to recover and rebuild my life," the former sister said. "Today I am married and have a job but the recovery path has been long and painful."
Roberta disclosed how she went "with her mother to the person in charge of religious congregations in my city to talk about what was happening in the Loyola community." But "with the excuse that he [Rupnik] didn't belong to his diocese, he didn't even want to listen to us."
Catholics have also called upon Oregon Catholic Press to withdraw the cover of its Today's Missal: Music Issue for 2023, which features a photograph of a Rupnik mosaic, and to recall printed copies that have already been distributed.
Church Militant asked the Holy See Press Office if the Vatican would consider revising Rupnik's painting from the cover of its stamp volume but received no response as of press time.