Marko Rupnik, S.J., has been expelled from the Jesuits. I have written enough about sex abuse that I automatically started to type out “Disgraced former priest Marko Rupnik,” but guess what? He is still a priest (although his faculties are limited), and I am hard pressed to say that he has truly been disgraced, even now.
Father Rupnik is a voracious sexual predator who allegedly spent several decades manipulating and tormenting vulnerable women into acting out quasi-spiritual sexual fantasies for his gratification. He is also a popular sacred artist (his hollow-eyed figures haunt the missals at my parish, as well as the walls of prominent churches and shrines worldwide), and apparently he is also a charismatic and charming fellow. For over 30 years, nearly every time one of the victims reported him, his peers and superiors, including the pope, decided that even when he might need to be disciplined, he didn’t need to be stopped. Clericalism is bad, but Father Rupnik is different.
A formal investigation by the Jesuits confirmed that he had excommunicated himself when he absolved a woman of sexual sins that he himself had perpetrated upon her. But even while his excommunication had not been resolved, he was invited to substitute as the preacher of the annual Lenten retreat for the Roman Curia; later, his work was chosen as the logo for the World Meeting of Families. In January 2022, the pope met with him privately. When Rupnik’s excommunication was confirmed, that sanction was quickly lifted, and when Rupnik was later accused of decades-old crimes, the Vatican refused to waive the statute of limitations.
In January of this year, Pope Francis, who had supposedly been close with Rupnik, called the allegations against him “a surprise.” He strove to emphasize that he himself had nothing to do with this case beyond a small administrative decision. It wasn’t his fault. How could he have known? What could he have done? He is just the pope. He only met with the man. How was he supposed to make sure he didn’t keep abusing women?
When will this end?
When will the day come when we won’t see a headline about the Catholic Church reluctantly admitting that they have spent the last several decades protecting yet another predator and feeding yet more victims into the flames? When will it stop?
I don’t know the answer to that, but I know when it won’t stop: It won’t stop under this generation of bishops, appointed by Francis or Benedict XVI or John Paul II. Some of them are good and decent men. But all of them are tainted. And the purification that must happen in the church will not be completed until they have been replaced.
I am not thirsting for anyone’s death. I am looking to Scripture, and I am seeing how God’s slow hand works….Read the rest of my latest for America Magazine.