In a bold display of support, the director of the Rome-based Aletti Center, Maria Campatelli, defended Rev. Marko Ivan Rupnik against allegations of sexual, spiritual, and psychological abuse that led to his expulsion from the Jesuit religious order, Your Content has learned.
Campatelli vehemently refuted the claims, deeming them “defamatory and unproven,” and condemned the treatment of Rupnik as a form of media-driven “lynching” against both the priest and his renowned art center.
The Jesuits took action this week, announcing Rupnik’s expulsion from the order on June 9 due to his “stubborn refusal to observe the vow of obedience.”
This decision came after several women accused Rupnik of sexual, spiritual, and psychological abuses spanning three decades.
Until recently, Rupnik had managed to evade punishment, seemingly benefiting from his elevated status within the church and the Vatican, where even Pope Francis’ involvement in the case was called into question.
Rupnik, widely celebrated as a religious artist in the Catholic Church, is known for his breathtaking mosaics adorning churches and basilicas worldwide, including within the Vatican.
The Aletti Center, under his guidance, trains artists in his distinctive mosaic style and operates an editorial house that sells artistic reproductions, coffee table books, and calendars.
In an open letter posted on the center’s website, Campatelli criticized Rupnik’s Jesuit superiors for releasing partial information regarding the case.
She claimed that Rupnik himself had requested to leave the order in January, and other Jesuit priests at the Aletti Center had made similar appeals due to their profound mistrust of the way superiors were handling the situation.
According to Campatelli, the Jesuits fabricated the “disobedience” charge by instructing Rupnik to transfer to a Jesuit community in Lombardy three months after he had already requested to leave.
She argued that this transfer order essentially set the stage for an act of disobedience that had, in fact, occurred. At the time of reporting, there has been no response to an email seeking comment from Rupnik’s superior.
The Rupnik scandal exploded in December when Italian blogs and websites revealed long-standing complaints from consecrated women who alleged abuse by the priest.
Their claims had been discredited or covered up by Rupnik’s Jesuit superiors. The case posed a significant challenge for both the Vatican and the Jesuits due to concerns over preferential treatment given to the charismatic priest, given that a Jesuit pope reigns and Jesuit priests hold influential positions within the sex abuse office.
After the allegations surfaced, the Jesuits reluctantly acknowledged that Rupnik had been excommunicated in 2020 for committing one of the gravest crimes in church law—absolving a woman, with whom he had engaged in sexual activity, within the confessional.
However, Rupnik repented, and the sanction was quickly lifted. The following year, nine women accused Rupnik of sexual, psychological, and spiritual abuse during the 1990s at a community he co-founded in Slovenia.
Despite the Jesuits recommending a church trial, the Vatican’s sex abuse office refused to waive the statute of limitations and declared the crimes too old to prosecute.
This outcome underscored the ongoing reluctance within the Catholic hierarchy to consider spiritual and sexual abuse of adult women as a punishable crime, treating it instead as a breach of priestly chastity that can be absolved, without fully acknowledging the trauma inflicted upon the victims.
One of the challenges faced was Rupnik’s numerous supporters, particularly at the Aletti Center, as exemplified by Campatelli’s, according ABC News.