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Vatican Clears Path for Priest Involved in Sex Scandal

Pope Francis delivers a speech during his weekly general audience at St Peter's Square in the Vatican, on October 25, 2023. PHOTO | ANDREAS SOLARO | AFP Vatican

Pope Francis of the Vatican has waived the statute of limitations in the case of the priest and renowned artist Slovenian Marko Rupnik, who stands accused of sexual and psychological abuse dating back to the early 1990s.


This decision paves the way for potential disciplinary proceedings and signifies a significant development in the ongoing efforts to address abuse within the Catholic Church.

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Marko Rupnik, 68, has twice faced sanctions from the Catholic order of Jesuits, to which Pope Francis himself belongs, in relation to allegations of abuse against members of an adult religious women’s community in Slovenia during the early 1990s. The Vatican had previously claimed that the statute of limitations had expired, preventing them from pursuing a trial.

Father Marko Rupnik. [Photo/ACI] Vatican
Father Marko Rupnik. [Photo/ACI]

However, the Vatican Commission on Sex Abuse, which advises the Pope, issued a warning to Pope Francis in September, highlighting “serious problems in the handling” of Rupnik’s case and the “lack of outreach to victims.”

Responding to these concerns, Pope Francis initiated a review of the case and subsequently decided to lift the statute of limitations, thereby enabling a legal process to unfold.

This decision comes at a time when the Catholic Church continues to grapple with the global outcry over clerical sex abuse, particularly involving children, and the subsequent cover-up of such incidents.

Marko Rupnik stands accused of abusing multiple women in a religious community in Ljubljana, Slovenia, more than three decades ago. The case initially came to light through the Italian media, prompting the Jesuits, one of the oldest and most prominent Roman Catholic orders, to sanction Rupnik by denying him the right to hear confession.

In addition to these allegations, Rupnik was also convicted of the “absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment,” which refers to absolving someone for engaging in sexual misconduct with him. This act is a grave offense in church law, leading to Rupnik’s automatic excommunication from the Catholic Church in May 2020, though the excommunication was later lifted by a Vatican decree later that same month.

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Pope Francis, who has repeatedly vowed to combat abusers and those who protect them, stated through the Vatican that he is determined to “listen attentively and compassionately to those who are suffering, especially those who feel marginalized from the Church.”


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