The Slovenia Times

Lourdes considering removing Rupnik's mosaics

Society

The authorities in Lourdes, one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Catholics, are considering removing mosaics created by Slovenian priest Marko Rupnik following sexual abuse allegations against him.

Jean-Marc Micas, Bishop of Tarbes et Lourdes, said a decision is to be reached this month whether to remove Rupnik's mosaics from the Rosary Basilica within the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes out of consideration for victims of abuse.

If reached it would be the first such decision against the disgraced Slovenian priest, whose mosaics can be found in more than 200 churches and shrines around the globe, including the Vatican and Portugal's Fatima, another pilgrimage site.

Quoted in an official statement from the Lourdes sanctuary, Bishop Jean-Marc Micas said a "reflection group" is to reach a decision in April after considering the elements required for the best decision to be made, reflecting as calmly as possible and not discounting any options beforehand.

"Lourdes is a place where many victims turn to the Immaculate Conception for comfort and healing. Their anguish is great before the mosaics of Father Rupnik in this very place: We cannot ignore it," Micas said as reported by the Catholic News Agency.

He noted that the vast majority of pilgrims and visitors to Lourdes highlight the beauty of the mosaics, but added that "because Rupnik has been sanctioned by his religious superiors and by the Holy See ... the question of the status of his works and his future is being raised". The topic is even more sensitive due to the specific nature of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The work was commissioned in 2008 for the facade of the Rosary Basilica as part of the complex on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Virgin Mary appearing to a 14-year-old girl at the site.

Earlier this year, the Jesuit order prohibited Rupnik from pursuing his artistic activity after 15 more people, women as well as men, came forward with fresh accusations against him of spiritual, sexual and psychological abuse.

Rupnik has also been subjected to other restrictions, including a ban on any public ministerial or sacramental activity, a ban on public communication and a ban on leaving the Lazio Region.

The scandal erupted at the end of 2022 after his order admitted that Rupnik had been excommunicated in 2019 for using the confessional to absolve a woman with whom he had engaged in sexual activity decades ago. The measure was later lifted because Rupnik admitted the sin and repented for it.

New allegations were made against him by nuns under his spiritual guidance at the Ljubljana-based Loyola community, but the Church decided not to prosecute Rupnik because "the facts in question" had become statute barred. The revelations only prompted other victims to come forward.

Rupnik rose to prominence when the late Pope John Paul II commissioned him to redesign a chapel in the Vatican between 1996 to 1999. He has since designed numerous chapels around the world.

His mosaics in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Vatican won him the 2000 PreŇ°eren Prize, Slovenia's top accolade in the arts, and there have been calls for him to be stripped of the prize.

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