Friday morning, the Vatican took action, allowing prosecution to go forward.
As the AP put it:
The announcement marked a major turnaround for the Holy See and followed an outcry among victims and their advocates over the handling of the case of the Rev. Marko Ivan Rupnik, a former Jesuit whose mosaics grace churches and basilicas around the world.
The scandal has been a headache for the Jesuits, the Vatican and Francis himself due to suspicions that Rupnik received favorable treatment from the Holy See, where a Jesuit is pope and other Jesuits head the sex crimes office that investigated Rupnik and declined to prosecute him because the claims against him were deemed too old.
In response to a complaint from his own anti-abuse panel about “serious problems” in the handling of a case involving a prominent Slovenian artist and priest, Pope Francis has decided to lift the statute of limitations in church law which, up to this point, had barred a canonical prosecution.
The Vatican made the announcement in a brief statement Friday, roughly 48 hours after news broke that Fr Mark Rupnik had been accepted back into his home diocese in Slovenia as a priest in good standing. The 68-year-old cleric 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.
Friday’s announcement also came in the wake of a couple of high-profile developments last month, which, taken together, suggested to some observers that Rupnik was being virtually rehabilitated.
According to the Vatican statement, the protest from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, 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.
The lifting of the statute of limitations in the church’s Code of Canon Law, technically known as “prescription,” has been cited by observers of the Rupnik case as a key factor in explaining the lack of any ecclesiastical sanction.