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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Fans of mosaic artist Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik are rallying behind the celebrity Jesuit, who has been accused of sexually abusing at least 20 nuns.
Stating they are standing in "solidarity" with the Slovenian serial abuser, Rupnik's groupies refuse to accept the verdicts against him passed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and, more recently, by his Jesuit superiors.
A Facebook page named "Friends of Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik" has 3,700 members who continue to post messages of support and prayers for the predator priest.
Rupnik fans — who are mostly women — also share homilies, paintings and mosaic artifacts after the Centro Aletti stopped updating them.
"This proves that all this defamation is to force Fr. Marko into silence and to bury the truths he has always preached without any fear or compromise," Anna Perna emphasizes. "Mud doesn't destroy mosaics [but] holds them up," Maria Follone remarks.
"This affects not only Fr. Marko, but also Francis and the Jesuits ... the works can't be cancelled that easily though. The mosaics will be the witnesses," Emanuela Sala responds.
Patrizia Marchegiani asks the group, "Why doesn't he [Rupnik] answer these accusations? Why is he not denying it? The accusations just keep on coming and they are all kinds, piling on one another and neither he nor the Jesuits are refuting them."
"I owe a lot to Fr. Marko, and I can't believe how much rubbish they are throwing at him. But I really wish he too would give us a foothold to believe that it's not true at all," she adds.
"Jesus, when he was accused, responded with silence, entrusting his persecutors to the Father, remaining on the cross without responding to provocations," Perna replies.
Eros Stivani, an alumnus of the theological faculty Emilia-Romagna in Bologna, blasts the Society of Jesus for treating Rupnik "with excessive harshness" and "depriving the entire Church of the benefits which, also through Fr. Marko, the Spirit continues to bestow on the People of God."
"I fully agree," Elena Pacini replies. "First his writings were precious and now they are not precious? Absurd! I share the cross of Fr. Marko and I reaffirm all my respect and gratitude."
Renzo Devigili, like several other devotees of the abuser priest, attributes Rupnik's downfall to "malice, ill will, envy, [and] slander." But, despite the calumny, the Jesuit remains "alive [and] abundant for all of us his followers and his brothers!"
"I feel sorry for Father Rupnik. I don't think all of this is true. Couldn't he still record Sunday homilies?" asks Claudio Corsi.
Toño Ríos requests "all followers of Father Rupnik to download and upload his lessons on YouTube" since "due to the ongoing witch-hunt, the Gregorian University has suspended his conference entitled "What if evangelization asked for a novelty in ordained life?"
"If anyone has downloaded this conference, please upload it on some platform so it is not lost forever. This is savage," Ríos writes.
"I downloaded it a long time ago ... if anyone needs," replies Zvonka Mikec. Dozens of fans respond with thanks and ask for links to Rupnik's talks at the conference.
Rupnik's disciples applaud his art because it's both "exceptional" and, more importantly, because it is "expressive of the faith" lived by the Jesuit.
In one instance, a fan posts a poem by St. John of the Cross:
Silence is gentleness
When you don't respond to insults
When you don't claim your rights
When you let God defend your honor
"Let us commit every day to praying for Fr. Rupnik," pleads Filomena Cicco. "And let's also pray for those who are envious and slander him," Rome-based Emanuela Dgs replies.
Multiple sources in pontifical academies and religious orders in Italy told Church Militant that priests, religious and laity were also divided on Rupnik's guilt, with several ignoring official apologies from Jesuit bigwigs. Others dismissed media reports as "fake news."
"The more I report on priestly sex abuse, the more I am convinced the primary enablers of clerical misconduct are Catholic laity," Church Militant's investigative reporter Christine Niles observed.
Niles, who has extensively exposed sex abuse among both modernist and traditionalist clergy, elaborated:
In every case I've reported on, there is always a contingent of laity who rally around the abuser, attack the whistleblowers and write off the victims as liars. Even though I've seen it happen again and again, the cognitive dissonance is no less disturbing each time.
"Quite frankly, it's disgusting, as these laity choose wilful blindness over truth, refusing to believe their beloved clergyman could ever be guilty of such evils," Niles lamented, explaining how such fans "serve as unwitting pawns for the predator priest, who is happy to use them for his own means to protect himself."
Meanwhile, victims of clerical sex abuse have refused to meet for prayer in the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II in Kraków because Rupnik's mosaics adorn the interior of the main chapel.
"Information about the excommunication and trial of Fr. Marko Rupnik" has "raised doubts whether the Sanctuary can remain a place of these meetings," a victims' statement announced.
"Will the injured people feel safe here? Will it not be painful and scandalous for them?" the victims asked. "We are aware that the perception of prayer in this place can be very different, especially for wounded people who are deeply traumatized by sexual abuse."
Since 2019, victims of clerical sex abuse have been meeting once a month at the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II for a silent, hour-long adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Twice a year, the shrine also hosts prayers and open meetings for people supporting victims.
"After consultation with the hosts of the Sanctuary we decided to move the adoration from the church with mosaics down to the chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus," the statement said. "We feel even more mobilized to show solidarity and pray for people hurt by Fr. Marko Rupnik."
The next prayer meeting for people wounded by sexual abuse will take place this Monday.