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Jesuit statement on abuse accusations against Fr Rupnik

The Society of Jesus releases a statement detailing new abuse accusations against Slovenian-born Fr. Marko Rupnik, which cover a period of more than 30 years, and announces that proceedings are planned within the Jesuit order.

By Vatican News

The testimonies come from people who can truly be considered survivors "given the evil they say they have suffered", according to a statement published on Tuesday morning on the website of the Society of Jesus regarding new abuse accusations against Fr. Marko Rupnik and entitled "Towards a recognition of the truth".

The statement is based on the complaints gathered in recent months by the Delegation's Investigative Team for the Jesuit Interprovincial Houses and Works in Rome. General Counsellor and Delegate, Fr Johan Verschueren, expressed his gratitude "to all the people who have had the strength to recount their experiences, sometimes with the inner suffering of having to bring many painful episodes to light again."

The claims regarding Father Rupnik’s abusive behaviour, says the statement, concern different periods of time (Loyola Community, individual persons who claim to have been abused in conscience, spiritually, psychologically or sexually harassed during personal relations with Father Rupnik, persons who were part of the Aletti Centre), and cover a time span of more than thirty years, from the mid-1980s to 2018: "The accusations and testimonies are highly credible.”

The Team, which proposed to meet with Father Rupnik to talk about the matter without success, has compiled a comprehensive dossier of its findings accompanied by conclusions on the various possibilities for further civil and canonical legal proceedings, as well as its indications and recommendations for the Society on possible steps to be taken.

"The nature of the complaints received," it states, "tends to exclude criminal relevance, before the Italian judicial authorities, regarding Father Rupnik's behaviour." However, it specifies, “from a canonical point of view and as far as his life and religious responsibilities are concerned, the relevance is quite different.”

The Declaration mentions three choices that the Superior General may choose to take: he can impose any sort of ministerial restrictions (limited or total) on the Jesuit; he can also oblige him to move to a specific place for a specific or indefinite period of time. If the dossier highlights attitudes that are grounds for necessary (c. 695) or optional (c. 696) resignation from the religious institute, the Superior General may decide to initiate proceedings for his dismissal from the Society of Jesus.

"Naturally," it is specified, "the person concerned has the right to be assisted and to defend himself in these proceedings. If the reason for resignation is optional, he also has the possibility of repenting after receiving the admonition established by c. 697. In this case, the process of removal from the order cannot go ahead.

It is to be noted that for this type of procedure, which is not a criminal one, the statute of limitations is not contemplated. Finally, if the attitudes reported correspond to a crime that is not within the competence of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Superior General may decide to initiate administrative criminal proceedings. These proceedings may also lead, among other things, to the dismissal of the accused. However, for certain offences, at the end of the process the Superior General can also decide not to proceed with dismissal, but to take other measures.

As a first step, Father Verschueren intends to promote an internal procedure within the Society of Jesus. He has also tightened the restrictive regulations against Father Rupnik, forbidding him “in obedience” from conducting any public artistic activity, especially in religious structures (such as churches, institutions, oratories and chapels, houses for retreats or spiritual exercises). These restrictions are in addition to those already in force (ban on any public ministry and sacramental activity, ban on public communication, ban on leaving Italy's Lazio region).

"We want to have before us," said Father Verschueren, "the clear possibility of a path that pursues the full recognition of the truth regarding the facts by those who are responsible, and a path of justice for the evil committed.”

The decisions were made known both to Father Rupnik and to the people who offered their testimonies.

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21 February 2023, 11:02