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HomeworldPope orders reopening of case of prominent priest accused of abuse

Pope orders reopening of case of prominent priest accused of abuse

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis has ordered a review of the Church’s handling of the case of an internationally known religious artist who was expelled from the Jesuit religious order after being accused of sexual, psychological and spiritual abuse of adult women.

A statement on Friday (Oct 27) said the Pope had asked the Vatican’s doctrinal office to review the case of Father Marko Ivan Rupnik and had lifted any statute of limitations that would apply so that a complete process could take place.

It said the Pope made the decision after a Vatican commission on the prevention of sexual abuse “brought to the Pope’s attention that there were serious problems in the handling” of the Rupnik case, as well as a “lack of outreach to victims”.

About 25 people, mostly former nuns, have accused Rupnik of various types of abuse, either when he was a spiritual director of a community of nuns in his native Slovenia about 30 years ago or since he moved to Rome to pursue his career as an artist.

Allegations against Rupnik began surfacing in Italian media late last year, after which the Jesuit headquarters acknowledged that he had been banned in 2019 from hearing confessions and leading spiritual retreats.

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He was expelled from the Jesuits in June and is believed to have returned to Slovenia.

Rupnik has never publicly responded to the accusations against him.

The Jesuits and the Vatican’s doctrinal department have come under criticism for their handling of the case.

The order disclosed under media pressure last year that the Vatican had investigated Rupnik and ruled that some of the alleged abuse fell beyond the statute of limitations.

The reopening of the case and the lifting of the statute of limitations means that Rupnik could eventually be defrocked, meaning a dismissal from the priesthood.

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