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UPDATE: Rupnik ‘presumed innocent’ until proven guilty, says diocese that welcomed him

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

Rome Newsroom, Oct 25, 2023 / 12:55 pm (CNA).

Father Marko Rupnik, the former Jesuit priest and mosaic artist accused of serious abuses against women, has been accepted for priestly ministry in a diocese in Slovenia.

In a statement to CNA on Wednesday, the Diocese of Koper confirmed earlier Italian and German media reports that Rupnik was now incardinated there.

The statement said that Rupnik was received into the diocese at the end of August.

The local bishop accepted Rupnik’s request to be received into the diocese “on the basis of the decree on Rupnik’s dismissal from the Jesuit order” and “and on the basis of the fact that no judicial sentence had been passed on Rupnik,” according to an English translation of the statement, written in Slovenian, issued by diocese’s vicar general, Slavko Rebec.

Rebec went on to cite Article 11.1 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone charged with a penal offense has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.”

“Until such time as Rupnik has been sentenced to the above-mentioned sentence, he enjoys all the rights and duties of diocesan priests,” the statement said.

The Diocese of Koper covers the westernmost side of Slovenia and has over 266,000 inhabitants. Rupnik was born in the small Slovenian town of Zadlog, which is part of the Diocese of Koper.

The once-popular mosaic artist was dismissed from the Jesuits on June 9 for failing to obey the directions of his superiors, including restrictions on his ministry imposed at the recommendation of investigators.

In February, the Jesuits said they had opened a new internal procedure against Rupnik to investigate accusations against him spanning from 1985 to 2018. The “highly credible” accusations, they said, included claims of spiritual, psychological, and sexual abuse, and abuse of conscience.

Rupnik was also briefly excommunicated in 2019 for absolving in confession an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment.

Rupnik’s welcome into the Slovenian diocese stands in contrast to the sanctions imposed on the religious sister with whom he co-founded the Loyola Community of religious women in Slovenia where his abuses allegedly took place.

Sister Ivanka Hosta, the superior general of the Loyola Community since 1994, was quietly removed in June from the governance of the community and has been banned from contacting current or former sisters for three years and ordered to make monthly pilgrimages to pray for Rupnik’s victims.

She is reportedly 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.

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 the news outlet Sete Margens, Hosta was prohibited from holding any position or function of government or from carrying out any spiritual direction in the community.

This story was updated at 2:40 p.m. ET with a statement from the Diocese of Koper.

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