Victim of sexual and spiritual abuse by famous Jesuit goes public

One of the first women to accuse the once-acclaimed Jesuit artist of spiritual, psychological and sexual abuse on Wednesday demanded transparency from the Vatican and the completeness of the Holy See, which has worked on his behalf for three decades. He appeared in public to seek an explanation.

Gloria Branchiani, 59, told her story publicly for the first time at a press conference with Laura Sgro, one of Rome’s most prominent Vatican lawyers. She detailed abuse allegations, including Pastor Marko Rupnik’s penchant for three-way sex “in the likeness of the Trinity,” which, if true, would signal a serious perversion of Catholic doctrine known as false mysticism. May be configured.

Mr. Rupnik has not commented publicly on the allegations, but his Rome art studio has said they are unproven and that the media has described the incident as a defamatory “lynching.” Ta.

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Rupnik mosaics adorn churches and cathedrals around the world, including the Catholic Basilica in Lourdes, France, the proposed cathedral in Aparecida, Brazil, and the Chapel of the Redemptoris Mater in the Palace of the Apostles.

The Jesuits last year expelled him from the order after failing to respond to allegations of spiritual, psychological and sexual abuse by about 20 women, most of whom, like Mr. Blanciani, he co-founded. He was a member of a religious community influenced by the Jesuits. His home country of Slovenia has been repressed ever since.

Rupnik’s scandal has been in the headlines for more than a year over speculation that he received preferential treatment from the Jesuit-controlled Vatican. From Pope Francis to the Jesuits who headed the Vatican office responsible for sexual and sacramental crimes, he was effectively forced out of office twice. needle.

Attorney Laura Sgro (left) listens to Gloria Branchiani (right) during a press conference in Rome, Wednesday, February 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Under pressure as the scandal grew, Francis decided to reopen the case in October, and Blanciani is expected to testify before the Holy See on the doctrine of the faith soon. Suguro said he did not know what kind of investigation might take place because the diplomatic service’s procedures are kept secret even from victims and their lawyers.

Branciani, who first denounced Rupnik in 1993 and has since left the Slovenian community, called for the full extent of Rupnik’s scandal and cover-up to be made public, including documents. She said she believes the Pope is still in the dark about the details and that even with him she believes the truth will be shown.

“He (Lupnik) was always protected from everyone and everything that could be accused of him was trivialized or denied,” she said. “We hope that our testimony will stimulate even more transparency and awareness among all people, and perhaps even the Pope, who was not actually aware of the facts of what happened.”

In a 2023 interview with The Associated Press, Francis said he was only intervening in the case for procedural reasons and did not know the details.

Mr. Rupnik’s former Jesuit superior, the Rev. Johan Verschulen, said he had not been able to contact Mr. Rupnik’s lawyer. He sent an email seeking comment to his art studio and Rome’s ecumenical center, but did not receive a response. The center has strongly defended him. The Diocese of Koper in Slovenia, which took in Mr. Lupnik after he was expelled from the Society of Jesus, cited a statement in October that said he had not been convicted in any court and was presumed innocent.

After Mr. Blanciani’s press conference, the Vatican Press Office issued an update on the investigation, saying that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had “received the latest elements” of the document from several institutions, including those with which it had not previously been contacted. said.

“Going forward, we will study the documents we have obtained to identify what steps are feasible and useful,” the statement said.

At the press conference, Mr. Blanciani described textbook cases of traditional manipulation of conscience, sexual abuse, and false mysticism that the Bureau for the Doctrine of the Faith has prosecuted. She said she underwent years of psychological manipulation, grooming and sexual advances, including while Ms. Rupnik painted the face of Jesus, and ultimately gave her virginity to Jesus. She said she lost it.

According to Rupnik, at one point she said, “Our relationship was not exclusive, but had to be in the image of the Trinity.”

“And to prove that our relationship is truly free, we had to invite another sister to live sexually with us. Because this sister “Because it had the significance of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, who connected the way we related,” and he also suggested my sister’s name,” she said.

The Vatican’s bishopric also deals with crimes of sexual abuse of minors and sacramental crimes. In the 1950s, the Rev. Thomas Philippe, a French Dominican priest, falsely claimed that Jesus and Mary had engaged in incest, and that he perverted Catholic spirituality, religious art, and sexuality to justify the abuse of women. sanctions for mysticism and other crimes. relationship.

The firm actually filed the first and only Vatican case against Mr. Rupnik in 2020, the most serious crime in canon law for using confessions to pardon women with whom he had sexual relations. It declared that he had been excommunicated for committing one of the following: .

The excommunication was lifted two weeks later, and Rupnik paid compensation to the woman. The following year, after nine members of the Slovenian community accused him of other abuses, the State Department chose not to prosecute him because the alleged abuses occurred too long ago. The office regularly waives the statute of limitations on old cases involving abuse of minors.


This result shows that the Catholic hierarchy routinely refuses to consider emotional and sexual abuse of adult women as punishable crimes, rather than considering the trauma it inflicts on victims. It highlighted that this is an acceptable lack of chastity as a clergyman.

Branciani’s press conference was also attended by Mirjam Kovac, another former member of the Slovenian Loyola community. Mirjam Kovac was the community founder’s secretary and had also reported abuse.

The event was organized by BishopAccountability, a US organization that documents the abuse crisis. Its co-founder, Anne Barrett Doyle, called for a full public explanation of the Rupnik cover-up, along the lines of the 2020 Vatican report into the cover-up of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The report documents the slighting and dismissal of bishops, cardinals and even the pope. Decades of his cheating.



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