A former Jesuit priest dismissed by the order for sexual abuse has apparently been incardinated in a diocese in his native Slovenia, according to multiple media reports.
Father Marko Ivan Rupnik — a renowned mosaic artist who was expelled from the Society of Jesus in June for refusing to comply with ministry restrictions after credible abuse accusations — has been accepted into the Diocese of Koper, which is headed by Bishop Jurij Bizjak.
The news was first reported Oct. 25 in Italian and German media reports, and confirmed to media in a statement from diocesan vicar general Msgr. Slavko Rebec.
Father Rupnik has been accused of sexually, spiritually or psychologically abusing some 2 dozen women and at least one man over a 40-year period.
He had been briefly excommunicated in 2020 for granting absolution to a woman with whom he had engaged in sexual relations. Among his accusers were several members of a women’s religious community in Slovenia, whose case was dismissed by the then-Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith because the statute of limitations had expired.
Father Rupnik, who remained a priest after his dismissal from the Jesuits, was received into the Diocese of Koper at the end of August in response to his request, according to Msgr. Rebec’s statement.
The approval was issued based on both the decree stipulating his dismissal from the order and on “the fact that no judicial sentence had been passed on Rupnik,” said the statement.
Father Rupnik remains on the staff of Centro Aletti, a scholarly and artistic center in Rome that promotes the coexistence of Orthodox, Eastern and Latin-rite Catholics, according to the center’s website. His mosaics have been installed in numerous churches and religious sites throughout the world, including the Vatican.
In July, Jesuit Father Johan Verschueren — the order’s delegate for Interprovincial Roman Houses and Works, and Father Rupnik’s immediate superior — wrote an open letter addressing why the priest’s dismissal from the order did not result in the loss of his clerical status.
“I would like to remind you here that this is not in itself the responsibility of the Society of Jesus, but of the Holy See,” wrote Father Verschueren. “I have always wanted as a Major Superior, in the different circumstances of these long and complex events, to be able to start a process that could guarantee the judicial verification of the facts, the right to defense and the consequent sanctions (or possible acquittal), but for different reasons, including the current limits of regulations relating to similar situations, did not allow this.”
The Diocese of Koper includes the town of Zadlog (about an hour west of Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana), where Father Rupnik was born in 1954. As of 2021, the diocese had just under 175,000 Catholics and some 100 parishes.
OSV News is awaiting a response to its request for comment from Msgr. Rebec.