The Vatican has ordered a religious community co-founded by the mosaic artist and former Jesuit Fr. Marko Rupnik to dissolve by October next year after it found “serious problems” related to its governance.
The Archdiocese of Ljubljana in Slovenia, where the community was co-founded by Rupnik and Sr. Ivanka Hosta in the mid-1980s, announced the Vatican’s decision Dec. 15.
It said that the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (DICLSAL), which oversees religious communities, had issued a decree Oct. 20 giving the Loyola Community a year to dissolve.
The archdiocese said that the dicastery took the step “because of serious problems concerning the exercise of authority and the way of life together.”
The decree was presented to community members, both in-person and online, at a Dec. 14 meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, with papal delegate Msgr. Amedeo Cencini and his collaborators Sr. Marisa Adami and Msgr. Victor Papež.
The Loyola Community was co-founded by Hosta and Rupnik in an effort to give a feminine expression to the charism of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus.
In 1993, the pair had a sharp parting of ways. Accompanied by several supporters, Rupnik relocated to Rome, where he established the Aletti Center and received commissions to create mosaics at prominent Catholic sites around the world.
Archbishop Alojzij Šuštar, the then Archbishop of Ljubljana, approved the Loyola Community as an institute of diocesan right in 1994, meaning that it was under his direct authority.
The decree of dissolution ends an investigation that began when Ljubljana’s Archbishop Stanislav Zore ordered a visitation of the community in 2019, on the 25th anniversary of the Vatican’s approval of its constitution.
Zore presented the results of the visitation to the Vatican in February 2020. The Vatican then referred the matter to the Diocese of Rome, where the community’s general office is located.
The Rome auxiliary Bishop Daniele Libanori, S.J., was appointed as an extraordinary commissioner of the community in October 2020. He submitted a final report to the Vatican in September 2022.
The Portuguese website 7MARGENS reported in September this year that Hosta was subject to a disciplinary decree, signed by Libanori.
It said that the decree, dated June 21, formally reprimanded Hosta for exercising “a style of government that is detrimental to the dignity and rights” of the women religious who compose the community.
In a tightly cropped extract from the decree published by 7MARGENS, Libanori also referred to “the intermingling of internal and external forums” in the community’s governance.
The internal forum concerns spiritual or sacramental ministry pertaining to an individual’s conscience, while, in this context, the external forum refers to the outward leadership of an ecclesiastical institution or community.
The website reported that the decree imposed three measures against Hosta, the community’s superior.
The first was a ban on holding governing positions within the community or offering spiritual direction.
The second was an obligation to move to the community’s house in Portugal and not to contact, either directly or indirectly, sisters or ex-sisters of the Loyola Community for three years.
The third was to visit a Marian shrine once a month for a year to pray “for the victims of the behavior of Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik and for all the nuns of the Community of Loyola.”
Rupnik has been accused of spiritually and sexually abusing multiple women religious over a period of decades. He was briefly excommunicated in 2019 after being found guilty of attempting to sacramentally absolve a sexual partner and expelled from the Society of Jesus in June because of “his stubborn refusal to observe the vow of obedience.”
Pope Francis ordered a review of the Church’s handling of the Rupnik case in October, days after it emerged that the priest was incardinated into the Slovenian Diocese of Koper at the end of August, provoking uproar among Catholics around the world.
Several former members of the community have testified publicly that Rupnik abused them in the 1980s and 1990s.
The 69-year-old priest has remained silent about the allegations and is said to have refused to cooperate with investigators.
Ex-members have also accused Hosta of failing to help them. She has not responded publicly to the claims.
The community’s head office is in Apnenik, southeastern Slovenia. In addition to its Rome general office, it is reportedly also active in Trieste, northeastern Italy, Portugal, Poland, and Brazil, and has a presence in Africa. The community has sisters of five nationalities.
Concluding its Dec. 15 statement, the Ljubljana archdiocese said: “We are invited to pray for the sisters and all those connected with the community.”