Logo de l'évêque du diocèse de Tarbes et Lourdes

Mosaics by Marko Rupnik – Lourdes

Tuesday 2 July 2024 – Official communiqué from Monsignor Jean-Marc Micas, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes.

Following the revelation of the numerous attacks for which Marko Rupnik was implicated, the question arose of the future of the mosaics that he created for the Sanctuary of Lourdes and which are affixed to the entrance to the basilica Our Lady of the Rosary. Many people who were victims of sexual violence and abuse at the hands of clergy have in fact expressed their suffering and the violence that this exposure now constituted for them.

Between May and October 2023, with the Rector of the Sanctuary, we formed a commission to discern the answer to this difficult question. Among the members of this commission were victims (French and foreign nationals), but also experts specialising in religious art, law, people engaged in the prevention and fight against abuse, and chaplains of Lourdes. The commission has worked since November 2023 until now. At the same time, I was also able to listen to and read the opinions of many people who wanted to send me their contribution: cardinals and bishops, artists, lawyers, victims, pilgrims, etc.

Today, I see that opinions are very divided and often split. Should we leave these mosaics where they are? Should they be destroyed? Should they be removed or displayed elsewhere? There is no consensus on any proposal. The positions taken are strong and passionate.

My personal opinion is now clear: this situation has nothing to do with other works whose author and victims have died, sometimes for several centuries. Here, the victims are alive and so is the perpetrator. Furthermore, I understood over the months that it was not my responsibility to reason based on the status of a work of art, its “morality” which should be distinguished from that of its author. . My role is to ensure that the Sanctuary welcomes everyone, especially those who suffer; among them people who are victims of abuse and sexual assault, children and adults. In Lourdes, the weary and hurt people who need consolation and reparation must remain a priority. This is the specific grace of this Sanctuary: nothing should prevent them from responding to Our Lady’s message inviting them to come there on pilgrimage. Because this has become impossible for many, my personal opinion is that it would be better to remove these mosaics.

This option is not widely appealing. It even meets real opposition among some: the subject arouses passions. Today, the best solution has not yet been decided, and my conviction turned into a decision, which would not be understood enough, would add even more division and violence.

I will therefore continue to work even more with victims, to discern what should be done, here in Lourdes, to honour the absolute requirement of consolation and reparation.

From now on, and in a concrete way, I have decided that these mosaics will no longer be highlighted as they were until now by the play of light during the Marian procession which brings together the pilgrims each evening. This is a first step. We will discern, with people of good will who agree to help us, the next steps.

It is up to me as “Guardian of the Cave”, and beyond the precise question of the future of these mosaics, to move forward concretely, again and again in welcoming victims and all hurt, fragile and poor people to Lourdes. This will be my work for the coming months, with those who accept to continue to help me.

I entrust this situation to the mercy of God and the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Bernadette.

Portrait de Mgr Micas, évêque de Tarbes et Lourdes - format paysage
Photo credit: Sanctuaire ND Lourdes

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