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Discipline of sister who led community co-founded by Rupnik raises questions

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

Rome Newsroom, Sep 27, 2023 / 11:28 am (CNA).

A religious sister who co-founded a community with the ex-Jesuit and accused abuser Father Marko Rupnik three decades ago was quietly removed in June from the governance of the community, banned from contacting current or former sisters for three years, and ordered to make monthly pilgrimages to pray for Rupnik’s victims.

Sister Ivanka Hosta, the superior general of the Loyola Community since 1994, is staying in a monastery in Braga, in northern Portugal, following the conclusion of an investigation into her leadership of the religious community by the Diocese of Rome, according to the Portuguese religious news outlet Sete Margens.

Hosta founded the community of women religious together with Rupnik in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in the early 1990s, though the two dramatically split ways in 1993.

According to a June 21 decree sent by Rome auxiliary bishop Daniele Libanori, SJ, to Hosta, and obtained by Sete Margens, Hosta was prohibited from holding any position or function of government or from carrying out any spiritual direction in the community.

Libanori issued a “formal reprimand” against Hosta for “exercising a style of government detrimental to the dignity and rights of each of the religious who make up the community,” Sete Margens reported Sept. 24.

The former religious superior was also 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.

In a cropped excerpt of the decree, shared by Sete Margens, Libanori says that in his investigation of the Loyola Community, he discovered “anomalies” in the government of the institute.

A source inside the community confirmed to CNA the existence of the decree. The source also questioned whether the decree is being fully implemented given the possibility that Hosta could have appealed the measures to the Vatican.

The unusual disciplinary measures leveled against Hosta raise questions about the conclusions of the investigation of the Loyola Community by the Diocese of Rome, including why Hosta would be ordered to do penance for Rupnik’s victims, and stand in stark contrast to a recent statement from the Diocese of Rome exonerating Rupnik’s art center.

Libanori first uncovered allegations of Rupnik’s sexual and spiritual abuse of religious sisters in 2019, when he was sent to investigate the Loyola Community in Slovenia amid complaints about Hosta.

The Rome auxiliary bishop said in a letter he sent to Italian priests in December 2022, obtained by the Associated Press, that the claims about Rupnik were true.

Rupnik, formerly a friend and collaborator of Hosta, acted as the Loyola Community’s chaplain until he 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.

While Libanori’s investigation of the Loyola Community appears to have found serious problems meriting strict disciplinary measures against its now-former religious superior, a recent canonical investigation by the Diocese of Rome into Rupnik’s Aletti Center found it to have “a healthy community life … that is free of particular serious issues.”

Rupnik, who was removed from the Jesuits in June after having been accused of spiritual, psychological, and sexual abuse spanning more than three decades, lived at and served as the director of the Aletti Center from 1995 to 2020.

The priest artist has been accused of engaging in sex acts with consecrated women at the center.

In an open letter published Sept. 19, former members of the Loyola Community said they were “left speechless” by the diocese’s concluding report on its canonical investigation of the Aletti Center.

“All [victims] have received and continue to receive is silence,” the letter says. “The victims of Ivanka Hosta’s abuse of power (who for 30 years covered up Rupnik’s nefarious deeds, and spiritually enslaved those who opposed his designs of revenge) especially have been waiting for a definitive, clear, maternal answer for more than a year.”

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