Former Religious Sister Makes Bombshell Allegations Against Father Rupnik

The woman told an Italian newspaper that her reports of Father Marko Rupnik’s alleged serial abuse were ignored by superiors, and that ‘Father Marko was protected by everyone.’

Jesuit Father Marko Ivan Rupnik stands before the official image he designed for the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome.
Jesuit Father Marko Ivan Rupnik stands before the official image he designed for the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome. (photo: Diocesi di Roma / YouTube / CNA)

VATICAN CITY — A former religious sister who says she was an abuse victim of the Jesuit artist Father Marko Ivan Rupnik has given an explosive interview detailing the extent of the depravity she allegedly experienced, and claiming the priest abused half the community of women religious to which she once belonged.

Speaking to the Italian newspaper Domani Dec. 18, the woman — pseudonymously called Anna — alleged how in the 1980s Father Rupnik began manipulating her, taking advantage of her youth and naivety, and making the young woman dependent on him.

“I wanted to run away,” Anna said in the interview. “I was afraid of making mistakes, afraid of losing his approval, I felt extremely dependent on his judgement.” 

The former religious sister said the abuse “was an outright abuse of conscience” and that “his sexual obsession was not extemporaneous but deeply connected to his conception of art and his theological thought.” 

A member of the Loyola Community near the Slovenian capital Ljubljana from 1987 to 1994, Anna claimed that Father Rupnik “at first slowly and gently infiltrated my psychological and spiritual world by appealing to my uncertainties and frailties while using my relationship with God to push me to have sexual experiences with him. 

“And so, feeling loved like Wisdom playing before God, as it is written in the book of Proverbs, turned into a request for more and more erotic games in his studio at the Collegio del Gesù in Rome, while painting or after the celebration of the Eucharist or Confession,” Anna said. 

Father Rupnik co-founded the Loyola Community with Sister Ivanka Hosta in the early 1980s and was the community chaplain until the early 1990s. A Church investigation concluded in January this year saying there was “a case to answer” regarding allegations of serial abuse by Father Rupnik within the community, but the Vatican declined to carry out a canonical process due to the statute of limitations. 

In 2020, the Vatican convicted Father Rupnik of absolving in the confessional in 2015 an accomplice with whom he had sinned against the sixth commandment — a grave sin that leads to latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication. After a 2019-2020 investigation, in early 2020 he was officially excommunicated but the excommunication was lifted in May 2020 after Father Rupnik repented for the crime. 

These facts were not publicly communicated until after Italian media began to report in early December about the other allegations against Father Rupnik.

Anna was one of the first sisters to join the community. From the beginning she said Father Rupnik “demanded absolute availability and obedience from me” and that the sexual abuse continued into the 1990s after she had taken her vows. 

“The dynamic was always the same: if I had doubts or refused, Rupnik would discredit me in front of the Community saying that I was not growing spiritually,” Anna told Domani. “He had no restraints, he used every means to achieve his goal, even confidences heard in confession. There began my psychological collapse.”

She said the alleged abuse continued to worsen, taking on an even graver nature after Father Rupnik founded the Aletti Center in Rome, a community aimed at promoting art and Ignatian spirituality. 

“The final step in this descent into hell was the move from theological justifications of sex to an exclusively pornographic relationship,” she claimed. At that time, in the early 1990s, she said the Slovenian priest began using the same “psycho-spiritual strategies” with other members of the community. 

“At the beginning of the 1990s there were 41 sisters and, from what I know, Father Rupnik managed to abuse almost twenty,” Anna claimed, adding that at one point she ran away from the community “to let myself die in the woods.” 

She said she tried to share her experience of abuse with her superiors but “no one helped me,” and added that “Father Marko was protected by everyone.” Nobody, she said, “dared speak openly” about the abuse as “we lived in an atmosphere of omerta.” 

Asked about the crime for which Father Rupnik was excommunicated, Anna said it pained her “deeply” as it confirmed her fears that he would go on abusing women. “He should have been stopped 30 years ago,” she said. 

Anna said she testified during the ecclesiastical investigations into Father Rupnik in 2021, but since she heard nothing more, she wrote an “open letter” in June 2022 addressed to the Jesuit’s superior general, Father Arturo Sosa, and copied it to Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Cardinal Vicar of Rome Angelo De Donatis, Father Rupnik’s local superior, Father Johan Verschueren, Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and other members of the Society of Jesus and the Aletti Center. 

“I have had no reply from any of them,” she said. 

On Dec. 18, the Society of Jesus invited anyone who has been abused by Father Rupnik to contact them. 

Asked if she is seeking compensation for moral and material damage, Anna replied: “I am considering this possibility with my lawyer.”