Pope Francis, Saint Peter's Square

Pope Francis has waived the statute of limitations for a priest and world-renowned mosaic artist accused of sexual and psychological abuse, opening the way for potential disciplinary proceedings, the Vatican said Friday.

Slovenian Marko Rupnik, 68, has twice been sanctioned by the Catholic order of Jesuits — to which Francis belongs — over claims of abuse against members of a community of adult religious women in Slovenia in the early 1990s.

But according to the Jesuits, the Vatican had previously said it could not put Rupnik on trial because the offences took place too long ago, meaning the statute of limitations had expired.

On Friday, the Vatican said in a statement that the commission on sex abuse, which advises the pope, had warned Francis in September of "serious problems in the handling" of Rupnik's case "and lack of outreach to victims."

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