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BREAKING: Vatican closing down Loyola Community co-founded by Rupnik

Father Marko Rupnik. / Credit: Screen shot/ACI Prensa

CNA Staff, Dec 15, 2023 / 09:38 am (CNA).

The Vatican has decided to shut down the religious community of sisters co-founded by accused abuser Father Marko Rupnik, the Slovenian Archdiocese of Ljubljana announced Friday.

Sisters from the Loyola Community were presented with a decree on Dec. 14 from the Vatican Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on the dissolution of their community “due to serious problems concerning the exercise of authority and the way of living together,” the archdiocese said.

According to the Dec. 15 statement, the dissolution of the community must take place within one year. The Vatican decree ordering the dissolution of the Loyola Community was issued on Oct. 20.

Rupnik co-founded the Loyola Community with Sister Ivanka Hosta in Ljubljana, Slovenia, more than three decades ago. The priest and mosaic artist was removed from the Jesuits in June after having been accused of spiritual, psychological, and sexual abuse of religious sisters. Yet the Slovenian Diocese of Koper confirmed on Oct. 25 that Rupnik was incardinated there at the end of August for priestly ministry, a revelation that sparked a public outcry and shocked Rupnik’s alleged victims.

Since then, the Vatican has announced that Rupnik will face a canonical process over the abuse allegations after Pope Francis decided to waive the statute of limitations on the claims.

According to one alleged Italian victim, Rupnik guided her to enter the Loyola Community in Slovenia, demanding “absolute availability and obedience,” isolating her from her friends and family, at a time when he was physically and spiritually abusing her.

“Father Marko had openly started to duress other sisters in the community with the usual psycho-spiritual strategies he had already used with me, with the goal of having sex with as many women as possible,” the former Loyola sister told the Italian media outlet “Domani” in December 2022.

“At the beginning of the 1990s there were 41 sisters and, from what I know, Father Rupnik managed to abuse almost 20,” she said.

Rupnik acted as the Loyola Community’s chaplain until he dramatically broke from the religious community in September 1993. Several sisters left the community with Rupnik, following him to Rome, where he subsequently opened his art and theology school, the Aletti Center. The priest artist has also been accused of engaging in sex acts with consecrated women at the center.

Hosta acted as the superior general of the Loyola community from 1994 to 2023. She was quietly removed from the governance of the community in June by a decree sent by Rome auxiliary bishop Daniele Libanori, SJ.

The former religious superior was ordered not to have any contact with current or past members of the Loyola Community for three years and, as an “external penance,” to make a monthly pilgrimage for one year to a Marian shrine to pray “for the victims of Father Marko Ivan Rupnik’s behavior and for all the religious of the Loyola Community,” whom she is accused of harming.

Libanori first uncovered allegations of Rupnik’s sexual and spiritual abuse of religious sisters when he was sent to investigate the Loyola Community in Slovenia amid complaints about Hosta.

According to the statement from the Archdiocese of Ljubljana, Archbishop Stanislav Zore asked for a visitation of the Loyola Community in 2019 and informed the Vatican dicastery for consecrated life of the results in February 2020.

Because the Loyola Community had its general house in Rome, the Vatican dicastery handed the matter over to the Diocese of Rome, who sent a commissioner to speak with the sisters and sent a final report to the dicastery in September 2022 through the Apostolic Nunciature.

The Diocese of Rome issued a report on its investigation of Rupnik’s Aletti Center in September concluding that the center had “a healthy community life … that is free of particular serious issues,” a statement that drew “bewilderment” from victims of Rupnik’s alleged spiritual and sexual abuse.

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