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John Paul II Shrine mum on Rupnik art ahead of Eucharistic procession

A spokesperson for the St. John Paul II Shrine declined to comment on questions about whether the shrine will cover mosaics by disgraced artist Fr. Marko Rupnik during the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage events next month.

Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, DC. Credit: Bumble Dee / Shutterstock.


Rupnik, who was expelled from the Jesuit order last year, has been accused of sexually abusing some 30 religious sisters. Some of the allegations involve claims of abuse specifically in the context of creating his works of art.

The John Paul II Shrine, which is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus fraternal organization, features mosaics by Rupnik in its Redemptor Hominis Church and the Luminous Mysteries Chapel.

The shrine will serve as a stop on a national pilgrimage route early next month.  

As part of the U.S. bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival initiative, four Eucharistic pilgrimages are taking place in the weeks leading up to the National Eucharistic Congress, which will be held in Indianapolis in July.

One of the four pilgrimage routes will be stopping in Washington, D.C., June 7-9.

On June 8, a Eucharistic procession will take place in Washington, D.C., ending at the St. John Paul II National Shrine, where benediction will be offered.

The shrine’s prominent role in the pilgrimage events comes after months of controversy over the continued presence of Rupnik’s artwork at the site.

The well-known priest and mosaic artist has been accused of spiritually, psychologically, and sexually abusing consecrated women in a Slovenian religious community which he helped found. 

He was also briefly excommunicated in 2020, for attempting to sacramentally absolve a woman after a sexual encounter with her, a major crime in the Church’s canon law.

An initial examination of the allegations against Rupnik met a dead end when the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) declined to lift the statute of limitations on the allegations.

Amid widespread criticism, Pope Francis in October 2023 waived the statute of limitations on the claims against Rupnik, reopening the case against the priest, and allowing him to face a canonical process. 

The DDF is currently investigating the allegations. Five new complaints of abuse were filed with the dicastery earlier this spring. The priest was expelled from the Jesuits last year for disobedience. 

The allegations against Rupnik have led to calls for the removal of his artwork, which is prominently featured in sacred spaces around the world, including the Basilica of the Sanctuary in Lourdes, France.

In December 2022, the Knights of Columbus said it was “reconsidering the place” of Rupnik’s work in the organization’s chapels. The Knights have already removed Rupnik’s art from their evangelization booklets and other published materials.

Rupnik’s mosaics are also featured in Holy Family Chapel, at the Knights of Columbus’ headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut. 

In April, a Knights council in Washington, D.C., passed a resolution calling for Rupnik’s art to be removed from the John Paul II Shrine.

The resolution called Rupnik’s mosaics “repugnant to faith, morals, and Christian piety…due to the fact that Fr. Rupnik reportedly perpetrated his sexual abuse through the creation of his artwork.”

It asked Knights leadership to immediately cover the artwork, and to make plans to replace it.

It also encouraged the organization’s executive leadership to “make a public apology to survivors of Fr. Rupnik's abuse for the Order's continued inaction in addressing the matter of the mosaics in the Shrine.” 

The Knights of Columbus did not respond to The Pillar’s request for comment on the resolution.

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