Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Former sisters detail Rupnik abuse allegations

Renowned Priest Accused of Abusing Nuns for 'Spiritual Growth' | World News  - Times of India

Two former nuns allegedly abused by the ex-Jesuit and artist Fr Marko Rupnik have described their experiences in public for the first time.

Mirjam Kovac, 62, and Gloria Branciani, 60, have previously spoken about abuse by Rupnik using pseudonyms.

Both are former sisters of the Loyola Community which Rupnik co-founded in Slovenia with Sr Ivanka Hosta.

According to Kovac, Rupnik had abused “at least 41 sisters” in the community, which the Vatican dissolved last December.

She said: “We were all young women, full of ideals. But these ideals, together with our formation in obedience and trust in the people who guided us, were exploited for abuses of various kinds: conscience, spiritual, power, psychological, physical, and even sexual.”

Branciani first met Rupnik while she was a young medical student with an interest in art. He is well-known for his mosaic works, which decorate many major Catholic sites, including the Shrine of Lourdes.

He began to groom her almost immediately, she said: “He was very friendly, sweet, available, [he] supported all of my emotional and physical needs.”

Often, he would celebrate a private Mass for Branciani, kissing and hugging her afterwards.  On one occasion, he asked her to undress during the liturgy and groped her. When she objected to his conduct, Rupnik “exploded aggressively”, saying she was good for nothing.

The abuse worsened after she joined the Loyola Community in 1987. Rupnik insisted Branciani join him in a threesome with another nun – to emulate the Holy Trinity.

After Hosta repeatedly ignored her complaints were, Branciani left the community in 1994. Kovac also left after experiencing psychological and spiritual abuse from Hosta and Rupnik.

In 2020, the Archbishop of Ljubljana Stanislav Zore asked Kovac to contact women who had left the Loyola Community after he began an investigation following complaints from ex-members.

Kovac and Branciani have called for complete transparency in the Vatican investigation of Rupnik. They compared the Church’s early mishandling of the case to its bungling mismanagement of allegations into the defrocked American cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

In June 2023, Rupnik was ejected from the Society of Jesus, who had also conducted an investigation into the 68-year-old artist. In October, Pope Francis lifted the statute of limitations on Rupnik’s case and directed the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) to examine it.

On the same day that Kovac and Branciani spoke, the Vatican issued a statement saying that the DDF had “contacted the institutions involved in different capacities in the case”.

“After expanding the search to realities not previously contacted and having just received the latest elements in response, it will now be necessary to study the acquired documentation in order to identify which procedures can and should be implemented.”