Sacred art under construction at Centro Aletti. / Credit: Vaticano/EWTN News
ACI Prensa Staff, Dec 22, 2023 / 16:50 pm (CNA).
Daniele Libanori, an auxiliary bishop of Rome and commissioner of the Loyola Community, which was founded by Father Marko Rupnik and recently dissolved by the Vatican, has revealed that all the nuns of that community will return to the lay state.
In addition, Libanori said a fund will be established to assist the women who belonged to the former community at the time of its dissolution.
The Loyola Community, co-founded in Slovenia in the 1980s by Sister Ivanka Hosta and Rupnik, accused of having committed serious sexual, spiritual, and psychological abuse of the sisters for decades, was dissolved by the Vatican in October “due to serious “problems relating to the exercise of authority and the way of community life.”
The decree of dissolution was issued by the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life after an investigation carried out by the Diocese of Rome by Libanori.
The future of the former sisters
In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Libanori said that after the dissolution of the community, those who were part of it “are at the same time dispensed from their religious vows and return to the lay state.”
The prelate added that the sisters who made up the community “have reverted to their status as laypeople and are under the same conditions as all laypeople.”
The details of the decree issued from the Vatican have not been published, although it should be noted that the dissolution of a religious entity does not automatically imply dispensation from religious vows.
The auxiliary bishop clarified that the members of the dissolved community have not been compensated because “we must distinguish between the dissolution of the institute and the abuses attributed to Marko Rupnik.”
Libanori also said that he has no knowledge “of any compensation” to the alleged victims.
“But I doubt it, because to date I am not aware of trials, sentences, or convictions,” he emphasized.
However, he told ACI Prensa that “the assets in the name of the Loyola Community will be used to create a fund for the assistance of all the sisters who were incardinated in the community at the time of the suppression.”
The role of the Society of Jesus
Along these lines, the Italian bishop specified that “no direct or indirect responsibility can be attributed to the Society of Jesus, except perhaps for having always trusted Father Rupnik, like everyone else, until the accusations came to light.”
“To my knowledge,” he continued, “the incidents involving the sisters of the Loyola Community were kept by each of them in the secret of her conscience until the moment of the accusations. I don’t even know that the sisters talked about it among themselves.”
Father Johan Verschueren, delegate for the Interprovincial Houses and Works in Rome and Rupnik’s former superior, told ACI Prensa that in the Society of Jesus “he had no voice” in the dissolution of the Loyola Community .
“We did not play any role in the dissolution (‘votum’ was not requested, nor was it given) … There was none and there is no connection with the Loyola Community since 1993,” he stated.
Investigation of the community in 2019
The Archdiocese of Ljubljana in Slovenia reported that, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the approval of the constitutions of the Loyola Community in 2019, the archbishop of Ljubljana, Stanislav Zore, paid a visit to the Loyola Community. At the end of the visit, in February 2020, he reported the results to the Vatican Dicastery for Institutions of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
However, because the Loyola Community had its general house in Rome, the dicastery referred the matter to the Diocese of Rome.
To pursue the matter, a commissioner was appointed, Libanori, who “after several conversations with all the sisters, drafted a final report that was sent to the dicastery in September 2022 through the apostolic nunciature.” As a result, a decree of dissolution was issued on Oct. 20 of this year.
Pope Francis lifts statute of limitations
Pope Francis asked the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in September to review the case of the Jesuit priest and world-renowned artist and decided to lift the statute of limitations to allow a trial to take place.
The Holy Father made this decision after the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors informed him of the serious problems in the way the priest’s case was handled and the lack of attention to the victims.
Rupnik was incardinated in August in the Diocese of Koper, Slovenia, just two months after being expelled from the Society of Jesus on June 15.
The local bishop accepted the priest’s request to be received into the diocese “on the basis of the decree of Rupnik’s dismissal from the Jesuit order” and “the fact that no court ruling has been issued against Rupnik,” a situation that could change in the future with a canonical trial.
Loyola Community Foundation and Aletti Center
The former Jesuit and world-renowned artist founded the Loyola Community along with Sister Hosta in the 1980s.
Rupnik was chaplain of the community until he dramatically broke all relations with the religious institution in September 1993 after allegedly committing abuses during his time at the head of the religious community.
Several sisters left the community with Rupnik, following him to Rome, where he later opened his school of art and theology, the Aletti Center. The priest has also been accused of having sexual relations with consecrated women at this center.
Hosta, who served since 1994 as superior general of the Loyola Community, was quietly removed in June of this year from the governance of the institution and has been prohibited from contacting current or former sisters for three years. She has also been ordered to make monthly pilgrimages to pray for Rupnik’s victims.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.