In response to a complaint from his own anti-abuse panel about “serious problems” in the handling of a case involving Slovenian priest Fr Marko Rupnik, Pope Francis has lifted the statute of limitations in Church law which had previously barred a canonical prosecution. Source: Crux.
The Vatican made the announcement in a brief statement on Friday, about 48 hours after news broke that Fr Rupnik had been accepted back into his home diocese in Slovenia as a priest in good standing.
The 68-year-old priest and artist had been expelled from the Jesuit order in June, after an internal investigation found a high degree of credibility to charges of sexual and other forms of abuse against adult women.
According to the Vatican statement, the protest from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM), a body created by Pope Francis in 2014 to advise him on anti-abuse measures, was lodged around the same time as those developments occurred.
“In September, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors brought to the Pope’s attention that there were serious problems in the handling of the Fr Marko Rupnik case and lack of outreach to victims,” the statement said.
“Consequently, the Holy Father asked the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith to review the case, and decided to lift the statute of limitations to allow a process to take place,” it said.
In statement published after Friday’s announcement of the Pope’s decision to lift the statute of limitations on the case, the PCPM applauded the move and the “bravery and witness of all those who have suffered abuse in the Church and who have been left empty-handed when seeking justice”.
“We will remain watchful in ensuring the adequate administration of justice,” it said, insisting that, “There is no room in ministry for those who would violate so profoundly those entrusted to their care.”