The Rupnik Scandal: Why does Cardinal Braz de Aviz Remain Silent?

Amidst allegations and scandals on the “Rupnik affair”, serious questions remain on the role played by the Dicastery headed by Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz.

Newsroom (31/12/2022 11:00 AM, Gaudium PressOne aspect that has been covered in the media – although it has not been yet deepened- is the role played by the Dicastery presided by the Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz in the whole “Rupnik Scandal”, the case of the Slovenian Jesuit-artist, excommunicated for giving sacramental absolution to a sex partner, amidst several accusations of various kinds of abuses. We are talking about the Dicastery, (formerly known as  ‘Congregation’) for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

As we know, the Dicastery deals with “the matters of competence of the Apostolic See related to the life and activity” of religious institutes, particularly with regard to the “discipline of the members” of these institutes. (Cf. Constitution Praedicate Evangelium Art. 124) To fulfill this disciplinary function, the Dicastery has a disciplinary office that “resolves irregular situations of members of religious institutes and societies of apostolic life”.

Rumors confirmed?

Last December 15th, the Portuguese newspaper 7 MARGINS – which together with Radio Renascença was the first to research and register the reactions of the Superior General of the Jesuits to the Rupnik case – reported that “the statement of the Dicastery for the Consecrated Life concerning the results of the inquiry made by the Auxiliary Bishop of Rome, the Jesuit Daniele Libanori, to the Loyola Community Institute, where several of the accusations against Rupnik originated, is still unknown”.

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Although at that time it was already circulating in the media that the Jesuit had been the author of scandalous abuses against consecrated women of a Community, the poignant testimony of ‘Anna’, a former Italian religious had not yet been published. Among several revelations, she says that of the 41 nuns there in the early 1990s, “Father Rupnik, as far as I know, managed to abuse almost twenty”. Nor had the contents of a letter that Msgr. Libanori addressed to the clergy under his responsibility in Rome been made public. In the letter, Libanori confessed his attempt to “silence the feelings I feel before shocking testimonies, provoked by arrogant silences, which show the filth that accumulates in certain spiritual schools. It seems that the news reported by the newspapers correspond to the truth, since the Superiors of the Society [of Jesus] have admitted the existence of precautionary measures against him in relation to these facts.”

After these statements by Msgr. Libanori, the general public assumed that the reports of the abuses were true. Besides the permanence of the precautionary measures imposed by the Jesuits on the Slovenian priest, a visitator and Commissioner of the Loyola Community had been charged by the Dicastery of consecrated life to redirect the life of an institute seriously affected from its roots by the Jesuit abuses.

However, up to now, the Dicastery has not officially pronounced itself on this thorny and difficult question evolving severely affected consecrated women under its watch, and a well-known priest – also under its watch-.

June 2021: Msgr. Libanori report

When did the Dicastery for Religious learn of Fr. Rupnik’s grave misdeeds? According to La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, in 2021 “Msgr. Libanori was charged with investigating the abuse at the Loyola Community, an investigation that took testimony from nine women and it was found credible by the Congregation as early as June of that year.” Which Congregation? Certainly, that of the Doctrine of the Faith, since it was from there that, in June 2021, the process was closed. It is unlikely, however, that the Dicastery for Religious Institutes under Cardinal Braz de Aviz was not also aware of Libanori’s report containing the testimonies of the allegedly nine abused consecrated women.

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The question then arises: Why did the DDF and the Dicastery for Religious allow the Jesuit, to continue to roam all over the world,  profiting from his artistic fame, and maintaining the position of consultant in two important Roman Dicasteries?

Moreover, by June 2021, Father Rupnik was a priest who should have been under the scrutiny of the dicastery of Cardinal Braz de Aviz, namely after his May 2020 excommunication by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In short: a Jesuit priest excommunicated for absolving a sexual accomplice in confession, accused of abuse by nine consecrated women remained – under the silence of two Roman congregations – the “art-star” priest, as La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana calls him. Was it not an unequivocal desire to “cover up and exonerate the Slovenian Jesuit”?

A Hushed ‘commissariat’

Another fact that unfortunately points in this direction is that the commissariat taking place at the Loyola Community – contrary to the practice in such cases – was kept secret by the Brazilian cardinal’s dicastery. According to Left media, one of the first to talk about it in early December: “the calculation made in the Vatican was not to make the commissariat public – something unusual – otherwise it would have been relatively easy for some media outlet less inattentive than others to discover the real motives. Evidently, it was absolutely necessary to avoid a direct causal link between the mental suffering experienced by the religious women of the Loyola Community and their confused and sectarian history, with the violence Father Rupnik is accused of,” says Left.

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This same media outlet reproduces the words of one of its sources, an anonymous and former religious of the Loyola Community, who reports that “due to the violence suffered, some sisters who already belonged to the Community and had been away for years were compensated on the initiative of Msgr. Libanori with the Community’s funds to the tune of 43,000 euros. Indemnities disguised with the excuse of supporting the serious state of poverty in which they found themselves after their commissariat in the Community of Loyola.”

The questions that still remain are many. Indeed, they deserve clarification from various dicasteries, among them, the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. (MCC)


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