Anti-abuse cardinal tells Vatican off: “Get rid of Rupnik’s images”

Once again it’s up to American Cardinal Sean O’Malley and his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to pull the Vatican’s ears for its handling of the Rupnik affair, the former Jesuit …

Anti-abuse cardinal tells Vatican off: "Get rid of Rupnik's images"

Once again it’s up to American Cardinal Sean O’Malley and his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to pull the Vatican’s ears for its handling of the Rupnik affair, the former Jesuit and now diocesan priest in Capodistria accused by several former nuns of sexual abuse and psychological over a period of 30 years. Accusations to which the superiors of the Society of Jesus have recognized a “degree of credibility (…) very highdeciding to dismiss the well-known mosaic artist last year. A few months later, however, Rupnik was incardinated without problems in the Slovenian diocese of Koper and only the vibrant intervention of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which in a letter to the alleged victims said it was ready to support them in the request for a procedural review at the prescription of the proceedings, led the Pope to grant an exemption to allow the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith to examine the case again.

The victims and the works of art

Eight months have passed since then, but nothing is known about the outcome of this investigation and the Vatican silence has convinced one of the alleged victims, Gloria Brancianito put his face out there and tell in public about the violence he allegedly suffered during his relationship with the former Jesuit between the late 80s and early 90s. Despite this and despite Branciani having spoken of the bond between the alleged abuse and the creation of mosaics because Rupnik “he argued that sexuality is transformed and purified in the work of art”the information portal of the Holy See Vatican News continued to use images of the former Jesuit’s works in liturgical calendar online. A choice on which the British journalist Damian Thompson has repeatedly pressed the Dicastery for Communication without obtaining explanations. The columnist of The Spectator and author of the podcast Holy Smoke he also highlighted on his profile X as among the officials of the department responsible for the publication of Vatican News there is Natasha Govekarco-author of books with Rupnik and who shared the work with him in the Aletti Center.

The controversial words of the prefect

Last week, at a Catholic media conference in Atlante, the prefect of the Dicastery for Communication Paolo Ruffini said publicly defended the choice to use images of Rupnik’s works for the website and social media Vatican News. Responding to a question from Colleen Dulle of the magazine liberal of the American Jesuits America MagazineRuffini argued that “it’s not a Christian answer” there public removal of the Slovenian’s works. Responding to another question from Paulina Guzik of OSW News, the prefect uttered words that caused discussion, saying – regarding the Rupnik affair – that “there is a procedure in progress. So we have to wait for the procedure” and then adding that we are not talking about child abuse”. Finally, Ruffini turned to the journalists present asking: “Do you think that if I remove a photo of a work of art from our website, I will be closer to the victims?” In front of the audience’s “yes”, the Vatican prefect said: “I think you’re wrong”.

The denial of the alleged victims

In the days following this performance, Ruffini was sensationally denied by the interested parties who, as stated in this tweet by Diane Montagna, through a letter from their lawyer Laura Sgro They asked bishops around the world to remove Rupnik’s mosaics from public spaces “independently of any ongoing proceedings against the author” because their exposure would represent a trauma for those who “every day they have to deal with the psychological consequences that the abuses have brought upon them.”

Anti-abuse cardinal intervenes

The position of the Cardinal O’Malley, known for his fight against abuse in the Church, who in a letter to the Vatican departments invited them to “exercise pastoral prudence” when deciding whether to use images of works by alleged abusers. The statement announcing the initiative by the head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors states that “In recent months, victims and survivors of abuse of power, spiritual abuse and sexual abuse have turned to the PCPM to express their growing frustration and concern for the continued use of Father Marko Rupnik’s artwork by various Vatican offices, including the Dicastery for Communication.” Therefore, not a generic but rather precise tirade.

The cardinal, in the letter to the departments, hoped that “pastoral prudence should avoid exhibiting works of art in a way that could imply an exoneration or a subtle defense” of any alleged abuser “or indicate indifference to pain and suffering of so many victims of abuse.”