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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Victims of the sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated by a former Jesuit celebrity artist are condemning Pope Francis and the diocese of Rome for downplaying the egregious acts committed against over 25 nuns.
In a letter to Pope Francis published Tuesday, former nuns of the Loyola Community said they were "left speechless" by Rome's cover-up of serial abuser Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik.
The victims said that the Holy See had "left their suffering exposed as an open wound" by publicizing the pope's meeting with Dr. Maria Campatelli, director of the Aletti Center, and by whitewashing the serial abuse in a report on the Aletti Center following a canonical visit.
"In these two events, which are not random even in their temporal sequence, we see that the Church does not care about the victims and those who seek justice," the letter alleged.
The victims slammed the "zero tolerance of abuse in the Church" as "merely a publicity campaign, only followed by often covert actions which instead supported and covered up the abusers."
"They make us think that the rhetoric we saw staged in Lisbon last July and August is an empty word ('Everyone, everyone is welcome in the Church!'), because in the end, there is no place in this Church for those who remember uncomfortable truths," the letter stressed.
The Holy See Press Office issued a photograph of Pope Francis meeting with Dr. Campatelli, a close collaborator of Fr. Rupnik, on Friday but did not publish details of the conversation.
"The interview granted by the pope to Campatelli in such a familiar atmosphere was thrown in the face of the victims," the letter lamented, complaining that Francis had refused to meet Rupnik's victims and "has not even replied to four letters" sent to him in July 2021.
On Sept. 18, the diocese of Rome announced that a canonical investigation into the Aletti Center conducted by Msgr. Giacomo Incitti, professor of canon law at the Pontifical Urban University, had declared Rupnik's community "free from any particularly critical issues."
"The visitor was able to ascertain that the members of the Aletti Center, although embittered by the allegations and the way in which they have been dealt with, have chosen to remain silent — despite the vehemence of the media," the diocesan statement said.
In April, a fifth nun revealed how Fr. Rupnik sexually abused her at the Aletti Center after she fled an abusive religious order and sought refuge at his studio in Rome, Church Militant reported.
In an explosive interview with the French magazine La Vie, Sr. Hermana Samuelle recounted how Rupnik would invite her to discreet meetings after 10 p.m. at the Aletti Center and take her in his arms, caress her shoulders and neck and play with her bra behind her back.
Church Militant earlier reported the testimonies of four other religious sisters who testified using the pseudonyms Anna, Esther, Roberta and Klara while revealing aspects of their abuse.
Anna, who says she was forced by Rupnik into a threesome with another nun at the Aletti Center, wrote an open letter to the superior general of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa. In the email, she also copied concerned cardinals, bishops, provincials, superiors and laymen.
"The first time he [Rupnik] kissed me on the mouth, he told me that he kissed the altar in this manner when he celebrated the Eucharist, [and he kissed me in his way] because with me he could experience sex as an expression of God's love," Anna narrated.
"The last step of this descent into Hell was the passage from the theological justifications of sex to an exclusively pornographic relationship," Anna lamented, noting that the priest "was already a frequent visitor to porn cinemas."
None of the 18 clerics (mostly Jesuits) or laity who were informed of the abuse responded to the June 2022 email or intervened to denounce the Slovenian serial abuser. Rupnik was allowed to continue his public ministry despite restrictions placed on him by the Jesuits.
In Dec. 2022, Jesuit superior general Fr. Arturo Sosa, who had previously insisted that the Society of Jesus wasn't hiding anything about the scandal, admitted that the world-famous mosaic artist had been excommunicated for sacramentally absolving a sexual partner.
However, the diocese of Rome's report identified "serious anomalies" that "generated well-founded doubts about even the request for excommunication itself."
The victims' letter criticized the diocesan report, stating, "With this report published today, which exonerates them of any responsibility, Rupnik mocks the pain of the victims, but also of the whole Church, mortally wounded by such ostentatious arrogance."
"Above all, the victims of the abuse of power by Ivanka Hosta (who for thirty years covered up Rupnik's nefarious deeds and spiritually enslaved those who opposed her plans of revenge) have been waiting for a definitive, clear, maternal answer for more than a year. But all they have received is silence," the letter added.
The letter, copied to Cdl. Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of Rome, Cdl. Matteo Zuppi, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and Cdl. João Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, was signed by Fabrizia Raguso and other former sisters of the Loyola Community.