Alleged abuser Marko Rupnik has art everywhere. What do we do with it?

My wife took Christ off our living room wall earlier this year.

It was a postcard image of a mosaic Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik created.

She couldn’t bear to have it up.

Rupnik is a remarkably gifted artist.

His mosaics adorn chapels and buildings from the St John Paul II National Shrine in Washington to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Lourdes, France. And until now, our living room wall.

Rupnik stands “accused of spiritual, psychological or sexual abuse by multiple adult women over the course of almost 40 years,” according to a report by Paulina Guzik at OSV News.

Many of the cases involved women under his spiritual direction.

Three years ago, he was even briefly excommunicated for granting absolution to a consecrated woman with whom he had sex, though the excommunication was lifted when he confessed and repented.

This week, we learned that Rupnik was expelled from the Society of Jesus on June 9 “due to stubborn refusal to observe the vow of obedience.”

The allegations are so serious that the bishop responsible for the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, which includes the basilica, has appointed a reflection group to consider whether the towering mosaics installed on the facade of the lower basilica in 2008 should be removed.

A few months ago, I visited the Lourdes for the first time, and when I saw the mosaics, I groaned out loud.

Rupnik’s style is immediately recognizable, and my first thought was that the art would forever be tainted by his crimes.

Certainly, for anyone who was abused by Father Rupnik, but also by people who other priests or religious leaders had abused, the art would never be just art.

What is the proper response when our heroes, our leaders, and our artists, let us down?

Picasso was a misogynistic creep who drove lovers to suicide.

How do we look at his painting “Guernica” now?

Woody Allen abandoned Mia Farrow for her 21-year-old daughter.

How do we look at his film “Manhattan”?

What about Roman Polanski? Jean Vanier? Bill Cosby? Theodore McCarrick? Marcial Maciel? Michael Jackson?

In the age of #Metoo and tell-all bios, we have grown adept at manoeuvring around the moral disasters of famous lives, but it is far less easy when the scandals involve someone we admired, perhaps even revered. Continue reading


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