Saturday, September 30, 2023

Superior of religious community, co-founder with Rupnik, removed and disciplined

The superior of a religious community cofounded by the religious artist and former Jesuit Marko Ivan Rupnik has been removed from her position, over concerns about her leadership, according to a Portuguese media report. 

Sr. Ivanka Hosta reportedly has been ordered to pray in reparation for the victims of abuse committed by Rupnik, and to have no contact with some members of her community. 

The move points to ongoing disagreement among Church officials regarding how to respond to the Rupnik affair.

The website 7MARGENS reported Sept. 25 that Sr. Ivanka Hosta, the co-founder of the Loyola Community, was subject to a disciplinary decree.

The news site reported that the decree, dated June 21, formally reprimanded Hosta for exercising “a style of government that is detrimental to the dignity and rights” of the women religious who compose the community founded in Slovenia in the 1980s.

The website reported that the decree imposed three measures against her.

The first was a ban on holding governing positions within the community or offering spiritual direction.

The second was an obligation to move to the community’s house in Portugal and not to contact, either directly or indirectly, sisters or ex-sisters of the Loyola Community for three years.

The third was to visit a Marian shrine once a month for a year to pray “for the victims of the behavior of Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik and for all the nuns of the Loyola Community.”

Rupnik has been accused of spiritually and sexually abusing multiple women religious over a period of decades and was expelled from the Society of Jesus earlier this year. 

He was briefly excommunicated in 2019 after being found guilty of attempting to sacramentally absolve a sexual partner.

The Portuguese website said that the decree concerning Hosta, from which it published a tightly cropped extract, was signed by the Rome auxiliary Bishop Daniele Libanori, S.J.

In the extract, Libanori appeared to refer to “the intermingling of internal and external forums” in the community’s governance. 

The internal forum concerns spiritual or sacramental ministry pertaining to an individual’s conscience, while, in this context, the external forum refers to the outward leadership of an ecclesiastical institution or community. 

Libanori was appointed the extraordinary commissioner of the Loyola Community in October 2020. 

According to the Diocese of Novo Mesto, which was created from the Ljubljana archdiocese in 2006, the community’s head office is in Apnenik, southeastern Slovenia, while its general office is in Rome. 

The Portuguese website said that Libanori completed a report on the community in July 2022 and likely sent it to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, which oversees religious communities.

“Inexplicably, it has not yet been the subject of a pronouncement by the Curia,” the website commented. 

Neither Libanori, nor the Diocese of Rome, nor the dicastery has responded publicly to the 7MARGENS report. 

While it is not clear what the scope of the bishop’s authority is to reorder the community and discipline its members under his mandate as extraordinary commissioner, Libanori cited in his decree his mandate from the dicastery and canon law relevant to supreme moderators of religious communities.

A similar mandate was given to Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth, Texas, earlier this year giving him the authority to exercise full governance over a local Carmelite monastery. 

The Loyola Community was co-founded by Hosta and Rupnik in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, in the 1980s in an effort to give a feminine expression to the charism of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus.

In 1993, the pair parted ways. Accompanied by several supporters, Rupnik relocated to Rome, where he established the Aletti Center and received commissions to create mosaics at prominent Catholics sites around the world.

Archbishop Alojzij Šuštar, the then Archbishop of Ljubljana, approved the Loyola Community as an institute of diocesan right in 1994, meaning that it was under his direct authority.

Libanori was reportedly sent to investigate complaints about the community in 2019. He was asked to take over the governance of the Loyola Community on Oct. 30, 2020, by Ljubljana’s Archbishop Stanislav Zore.

Several former members of the community have testified publicly that Rupnik abused them in the 1980s and 1990s.

The 68-year-old priest has remained silent about the allegations and has reportedly refused to cooperate with investigators.

Ex-members have also accused Hosta of failing to help them. She has not responded publicly to the claims.

Libanori encouraged both current and former members to put their testimonies in writing and filed their complaints in 2021. 

“Their testimony was not followed by a judgment since the statute of limitations was invoked,” he told the French Catholic newspaper La Croix in a February interview. “This is not an acquittal, but a waiver of the right to proceed to a formal conviction.” 

The Jesuit order expelled Rupnik in June because of “his stubborn refusal to observe the vow of obedience.”

The Vicariate of the Diocese of Rome, the chancery handling the day-to-day governance of the pope’s diocese, issued a Sept. 18 statement giving the Aletti Center a clean bill of health following a canonical visitation, as well as calling into question Rupnik’s 2019 canonical conviction and excommunication.