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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Rome's director of vocations has triggered outrage after he praised a Jesuit serial abuser as a "prophet" and featured the predator priest's artwork on the cover of his latest book.
Father Fabio Rosini released his book on Valentine's Day, exactly a day after the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUCPR) in southern Brazil rescinded the honorary doctorate it had conferred on Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, who has been accused of sexually abusing 20 nuns.
"In view of the widely reported facts about the events involving Marko Ivan Rupnik," the university has revoked "the title of Doctor Honoris Causa granted on Nov. 30, 2022, to the Slovenian artist, considering him 'unworthy' of such an honor," PUCPR announced Monday.
Despite widespread denunciations of the predator and the escalating debate over canceling his artwork, Rosini adorned the cover of his book The Art of the Good Battle: Inner Freedom and Eight Evil Thoughts According to Evagrius Ponticus with the image of a Rupnik mosaic.
The mosaic portrays "the Harrowing of Hell" by Christ before the resurrection to pull out Adam and Eve, the patriarchs, and those saints who had died before his time. Hell was usually depicted as a beast with an open mouth and the resurrected Christ with pieced hands and feet rescuing a woman and a man from the jaws of a whale.
Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, archbishop of Bologna and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, presided at the book launch at the Basilica of Don Bosco in Rome. Eight celebrities, including Italian actress Ilaria Spada and director Kim Rossi Stuart, commended the book at the event.
The book, which has shot to No. 1 on Amazon in the Italian section of books on spirituality, names Rupnik as a "teacher and friend" (Page 11) and hails him as a "prophet" (Page 397).
Rosini is regarded as a celebrity in his own right; he is a cellist, a biblical scholar with a licentiate from the prestigious Pontifical Biblical Institute, a weekly commentator on the gospel for Vatican Radio and a professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.
Last Thursday, TV2000, the television channel of the Italian Episcopal Conference, invited Fr. Rosini to promote his book. The 20-minute interview showed the cover of the book with Rupnik's image prominently displayed on the backdrop of the studio.
In an open letter to TV2000 and the Vatican, Renata Patti, a victim of abuse in the Focolare Movement and who has been in contact with two religious sisters abused by Fr. Rupnik, blasted the producers for "not even mentioning this latest current and scandalous reality."
Patti said she was "scandalized and deeply shaken by Fr. Rosini," especially because of the reference to Rupnik as his "master" and could not imagine that the two interviewers "were unaware of the ecclesial current situation regarding the author of the mosaic on the cover."
"I have re-read Luke 18 and I would really like to be the 'voice' of that 'widow' who, with her insistence, wins over even an unfair judge, as one of the two victims writes to me that she no longer has a voice to denounce what no one wants to hear!!!" Patti wrote.
"Now for them 'the stones will cry out' shame, shame, shame!" she added.
Ironically, the publisher of Rosini's book, Pauline Books and Media — a Catholic publishing empire run by the Daughters of St. Paul — was the first to announce that it had withdrawn three books authored by Rupnik.
In December, the global publishing house announced that it would withdraw the English editions of Rupnik's works that it had published over the years "in light of this very sad news, and out of respect for those who have been hurt," Church Militant reported.
The sisters noted that they were "saddened by the recent news" about Rupnik, and the three titles would "no longer be available through our channels." Earlier, the publishing house posted a tweet calling for prayer for "everyone who has been hurt and affected."
Rupnik's three books published by Pauline are Discernment: Acquiring the Heart of God (2006), Human Frailty, Divine Redemption (2012) and Contemplating the Face of Christ (2018).
In January 2020, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith unanimously convicted and excommunicated Rupnik for sacramentally absolving a sexual accomplice. Pope Francis reportedly rehabilitated his Jesuit brother in May 2020.
In October 2022, the Vatican dismissed the findings of the investigation and the trial by the CDF on the basis that Rupnik's crimes of sexual, spiritual and physical abuse against at least 20 nuns were outside the statute of limitations.
Pope Francis continues to remain silent on his role in the Rupnik scandal. Despite the explosive revelations in the Italian media since Dec. 1, the Vatican has featured a painting by Rupnik on the cover of its latest stamp volume, which was released on Dec. 22, 2022.
Father Rosini did not respond to Church Militant's request for comment as of press time.