Jesuits confirm expulsion of artist Father Rupnik

2 mins read
Pope Francis greets then-Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik during a private audience at the Vatican in this Jan. 3, 2022, file photo. Father Rupnik's expulsion from the Jesuits was confirmed July 24, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Jesuits have expelled from their religious order the well-known artist and preacher Father Marko Rupnik for refusing to uphold his vow of obedience and confront allegations of sexually, spiritually and psychologically abusing some two dozen women and at least one man over the course of 30 years, the order said July 24.

In an open letter published July 24 Jesuit Father Johan Verschueren, his former superior, confirmed that Father Rupnik was officially expelled after an appeal period on the order’s decision had passed. After refusing to accept an unspecified mission by the Jesuits Father Rupink received the order’s decision to expel him June 14, which included a 30-day appeal period, Father Verschueren wrote in a June 15 statement.

Father Rupnik will remain a priest but is no longer a member of the Jesuits. The decision to laicize him “is not in itself the responsibility of the Society of Jesus, but of the Holy See,” wrote Father Verschueren in the open letter.

He said that “current limits of regulations regarding similar situations” did not allow for a more in-depth process to “guarantee judicial verification of the facts” leading to further sanctions or an acquittal.

Father Verschueren also stated in the letter the Jesuits’ decision to distance itself legally from the Centro Aletti artistic community founded by Father Rupnik and to terminate its partnerships with the center. He noted that no Jesuits currently reside at the center.

The Slovenian priest’s distinctive mosaics continue to adorn walls inside the Vatican, hundreds of churches and Catholic shrines around the world including Fátima and Lourdes. The basilica at Lourdes established a reflection group in April to discuss the possibility of removing works by Father Rupnik out of consideration for victims of abuse.

Open letter

In his letter, Father Verschueren wrote that the order did not accept Father Rupnik’s request — submitted in January — to leave the Jesuits due to its desire to “bind him to his responsibilities in the face of so many accusations, inviting him to embark on a path of truth and confrontation with the evil reported by so many people who have felt hurt.”

“I cannot but greatly regret this insistent and stubborn inability to confront the voices of so many people who have felt hurt, offended and humiliated by his behavior and conduct toward them,” he wrote. “What has been said does not exclude the good he did, and the spiritual fruit of which he was a conduit for many and many others in the Church.”


In December 2022, the Jesuits confirmed Father Rupnik was operating under restrictions on his ministry because of abuse allegations and that he briefly had been excommunicated in 2020 for absolving in confession a woman with whom he had had sex.

Father Verschueren said in February that a team of experts gave the Jesuits a “dossier regarding numerous complaints” made against Father Rupnik concerning acts that had taken place between the mid-1980s and 2018.

With a degree of credibility that “seems to be very high,” another 14 women and one man came forward, he said.

Justin McLellan

Justin McLellan is a journalist based in Rome with Catholic News Service. He holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy and theology from the University of Notre Dame.