Rorate Caeli

The Rupnik Affair: How Deep Priestly Perversion Was Normalized By Francis and His Jesuits

A Guest-post 

by Mark Lambert 

You could be totally forgiven for not having the slightest idea who Marko Rupnik SJ is, but you are more likely to remember some of his strange contributions to the Franciscan papacy.

As Dr. Peter Kwasniewski remarked this week “I'm not the only one who finds Fr. Rupnik's art creepy? It's just plain weird, these bulbous pop-eyed slinky figures with cartoon cut-out profiles... to me there's something inhuman about it. I'm not saying one can deduce from his art that he was a mega-pervert who, in spite of being a priest sworn to celibacy, slept with 20-something nuns (sometimes 2 at a time), blasphemed the Trinity and the Eucharist, and abused the sacrament of confession, but I *am* saying that his art should never have been so celebrated, as if he was some kind of great church artist of our times.”

In case you haven’t guessed, Rupnik is the man responsible for recent Vatican favourites like the three eyed figure chosen for the world meeting of families earlier in this pontificate:


Rupnik is at the centre of a great controversy at the Vatican after it emerged he had been convicted of abusing a number of Slovenian nuns at a religious order where he was spiritual director in the eighties. In 2015: Father Rupnik violates the confessional by absolving an Italian novice with whom he had sinned against the sixth commandment. A canonical trial into this unanimously convicted Rupnik, who is subsequently excommunicated in 2020, although the Jesuits say this was lifted soon after.  Messa in Latino revealed that this was actioned by Rupnik’s friend, Pope Francis.


Despite this, Father Johan Verschueren, delegate of Jesuits' Superior General and Major Superior for the International Houses confirmed in Dec. 17, 2022, that Father Rupnik was to “avoid private, in-depth spiritual contacts with persons, forbidden to confess women, and to give spiritual direction to women specifically in the context of Centro Aletti. In 2020, these restrictions were widened geographically to include anywhere.

Regardless of the restrictions, Pope Francis either asked or approved Rupnik temporarily standing in for Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the pontifical household, to preach the Lenten homilies at the Vatican in March 2020.

A further investigation into allegations of abuse against Rupnik was launched in 2021 where at least nine women made accusations against him. Although the investigation concluded there was a case to answer, the Vatican declined to carry out a canonical process relating to these allegations citing the statute of limitations.

You would have thought all of this might give our Holy Father some cause for concern regarding the celebrity priest. But Pope Francis  received Father Rupnik in private audience in January 2022. Father Rupnik also continues to record his homilies and talks and broadcasts them on the website of the Aletti Center. The latest was posted on YouTube on Dec. 10. In November, Rupnik received an honorary doctorate from the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná in Brazil.

While Father Pavone is laicised for “disobedience”, here we have a Jesuit friend of Pope Francis who is protected (Father Verschueren explained to Edward Pentin that Father Rupnik has been able to continue certain public activities because “a few exceptions” were made for him. “The local superior had the right to allow exceptions,” Father Verschueren said, and “could judge whether there were opportune or not.” He added: “I admit that this did not work well. We made these rules ‘absolute’ after complaints reached my ears.”) and allowed to continue in a very high profile ministry, is given given awards, despite the verified fact that he abused several nuns, sometimes several at once, blaspheming the Trinity and the Eucharist. This man gave confessional absolution to a woman he had sex with for which he was excommunicated, but it’s not what you know, it’s who you know! Pope Francis lifted the excommunication, stopped Vatican action & invited him to preach at a Vatican retreat day.

What does this say about Vatican promises of accountability and zero tolerance for abuse? It appears that “disobedience” is a far more problematic crime for the Vatican than abuse.

We can add Rupnik to the list of predators Pope Francis has personally protected; Zanchetta, Grassi, Inzola, et al.

One also has to wonder, given the timings and contents of the letter from the Apostolic Nuncio to the US bishops regarding Fr. Pavone actually state that huge media interest in his laicization was anticipated, was this orchestrated in some way to distract attention from the Pope’s involvement in the Rupnik affair?