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Bishop Considers Removal of Mosaics by Accused Abuser: ‘A Heart-wrenching Decision’

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Bishop Considers Removal Of Mosaics By Accused Abuser: 'a Heart Wrenching Decision'

The bishop of Lourdes is currently grappling with a difficult decision regarding the removal of mosaics by accused abuser Father Marko Rupnik. Bishop Jean-Marc Micas of Tarbes and Lourdes has received numerous letters from Catholics all over the world as he considers this matter, hoping to make a decision by spring. A special commission was formed by the bishop last year, which includes sacred art specialists and experts from across France.

Bishop Micas acknowledged the challenging nature of this decision, especially when meeting with victims of abuse. The inspiration for the commission came from a conversation he had with a woman from England who served as a volunteer in Lourdes for many years. The woman expressed concerns about the mosaics by Rupnik, as for her and other abuse victims, they symbolize the arms of Father Rupnik instead of the Immaculate Conception.

Rupnik’s mosaics were added to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Lourdes in 2008, depicting the luminous mysteries of the rosary, with the “Wedding Feast at Cana” at the center. However, the priest has faced multiple allegations of spiritual, psychological, and sexual abuse of religious sisters. Last June, he was removed from the Jesuits and is now facing a canonical process following Pope Francis‘ decision to waive the statute of limitations.

These allegations have created a predicament for many shrines and Catholic churches that have Rupnik’s art. Some argue against removing the mosaics, claiming it is a form of “cancel culture,” while others emphasize the possibility of his works promoting a “false Gospel.” Lourdes feels the sensitivity of this issue deeply due to its reputation as a place of healing and consolation for abuse victims. The French bishops have gathered in Lourdes to pray and fast for victims of abuse.

Bishop Micas understands that other shrines and churches with Rupnik’s mosaics may look to Lourdes to set a precedent. However, he asserts that any decision made by their commission will only apply to Lourdes, as it serves a specific purpose for weak, sick, and special people who seek solace in the message of Lourdes, regardless of the cost.

Rachel Adams

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