While another shocking testimony of a nun-victim of Father Rupnik emerges, in an interview with the AP agency, Pope Francis washes his hands of the scandal. Allegedly, he knew nothing and never intervened; he defends the statute of limitations in this case because the abuses were not committed against minors or 'vulnerable adults'. An untenable line of defence, refuted by many circumstances.
Another shocking testimony, disgusting in content, has emerged. The interview that 'Klara', an ex-religious woman from the Loyola Community, gave to Domani, is the most serious so far about the abuse perpetrated by Rupnik during his years in Ljubljana.
Klara had met Rupnik in 1980, when she was only sixteen and he was ten years older. A year later, during a spiritual retreat preached by the Jesuit, he made his first advances: "At the end of the day, while saying goodbye to me, Rupnik hugged and kissed me, justifying that gesture with my need for tenderness. As he continued to hug and kiss me, he repeated that he was only doing it for my sake”. Then came his insistence that Klara enter the Community, and adopted certain familiarities decidedly unsuitable by a religious towards an aspiring religious: "He continually talked to me about an Italian girl, his model in the studio where he painted, describing her as an example of femininity and eroticism, characteristics that he said he also saw in me".
In 1986, while she was living alone in Ljubljana and Father Marko was in the Jesuit community in Gorizia, the first explicit sexual approach took place; then, when Klara entered the community, he began to exploit her “sexually as he pleased”. Rupnik also confided in her that he also had "a sexual relationship with other sisters, repeatedly mentioning threesomes and asking me if I preferred to be with a sister and him, or if I wanted to be alone with two men. He described our future threesome to me in every detail”. It was a real fixation that of threesomes, to the point that Klara had been sent by the Jesuit to the home of a woman from San Marco in Lamis, whom Rupnik praised because she inspired him artistically “when, in his studio, she massaged her breasts and caressed herself in front of him. I soon realised that I had been sent to her house for the specific purpose of being instructed in threesome sex: she would touch herself and 'play' with me in bed, talking to me about what it would be like with Father Rupnik”; a detail that would be suitable in a Satanist orgy.
Then came the first serious resistance to Rupnik's sexual harassment, and the ensuing humiliation by the superior, Sr Ivanka Hosta, with reprimands and punishments. Until Klara left the order when she was 35 years old. "He used all his talents for understanding of the frailties of each of us to his advantage in order to obtain sexual services, using a distorted logic of love. At the same time, when he found 'resistance', as happened with me, he would start cruel psychological, emotional and spiritual assaults that, together with physical abuse, would destroy people", she explains.
Then the courage to confront him, to challenge him with all the evil committed over twenty years, and Rupnik's usual perverse or psychotic reaction: “He denied everything. He remained impassive and replied that he did not know what I was talking about”.
This is just one of the abuses that were allowed to lapse. And now we know, in the light of Pope Francis' interview with Associated Press, he was the one who wanted the Congregation not to waive the statute of limitations on the abuses dating back to the 1990s. Abuses which, according to Klara's confession, had begun before those years and continued afterwards. The Pope justifies citing the guarantee of civil rights: “In this there is a general conduct, whether it is the presumption of innocence or the statute of limitations, they are legal weapons of guarantee. [...] Because if we start getting out of those guarantees, justice becomes very manipulable. I do not tolerate the statute of limitations when a child is involved. Of course I remove it immediately. In this case, no, which does not prevent the person from being prosecuted. But outside this charge that is already statute-barred. The statute of limitations is a guarantee”. He continues: "Now, if there is a minor, or a vulnerable adult I always remove it."
The interviewer missed the opportunity to ask an obvious question: why should young women, somehow bewitched by Rupnik's personality, towards whom the Jesuit used the most repugnant weapon of spiritual direction to get them to indulge in his erotic follies, not be considered vulnerable adults? Especially since, as is clear from Klara's testimony, Rupnik's first approaches began while she was a minor, living alone, far from her family.
In fact, the pope’s position is not at all convincing. And even less convincing is his statement that he had nothing to do with the Rupnik affair, that he knew nothing about it and was taken by surprise: “For me it was a surprise, really. This, a person, an artist of this level, for me it was a big surprise and a sorrow”. But, then there are the other surprises: the surprise that since 2018 the Society of Jesus had undertaken preliminary investigations; the surprise that in May 2019 its own religious order had found the allegations credible and had therefore sent them to the CDF; the surprise that, a month later, Rupnik had been subjected to precautionary rules; the surprise that in January 2020 the CDF had established the crime of the absolution of the accomplice; the surprise that in May of the same year, with protocol letter no. 685/2019 (see here), signed by Cardinal Ladaria and Archbishop Di Noia, Rupnik's excommunication was notified; the surprise that an "unknown hand" lifted that excommunication in record time.
But, the pope knew nothing about it. Good. So why doesn't he open an enquiry to find out who actually lifted the excommunication? Perhaps Ladaria in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde version? Quite rightly, Il Sismografo draws the conclusions: "If the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, within a few days, decrees in writing that Rupnik's excommunication has been lifted, it means that it was erased by the same hand that had previously written it. And this cannot be done in the Church, ever, unless the Pope decides or imposes it”.
The Pope knew nothing about it; but when he heard about the abuse thirty years ago, he chose to be an ‘advocate of civil liberties'. “I have nothing to do with this”, the Pope also stated. His long silence was particularly disconcerting; but it was a better option than statements of this tenor.