Pope admits that priests sexually abused nuns, including case of 'sexual slavery'

Blanche Robertson
February 8, 2019

Pope Francis has acknowledged that many nuns have and still are suffering sexual abuses at the hands of Catholic priests and bishops, with some being held against their will in instances of sexual slavery.

The papal admission followed a rare outcry last week from the Vatican's women's magazine, "Women Church World", over the rape of nuns, leaving them feeling forced to have abortions or raise children not recognised by their priest fathers.

Francis did not name the congregation that Benedict dissolved but CBS News, quoting Alessandro Gisotti of the Vatican press office, said that the order in question had been based in France.

"It is the first time that the pope, but also the church as an institution, has publicly admitted this abuse is taking place, and that's hugely important, ' Ms Scaraffia, editor of 'Women Church World", told AFP.

Francis conceded on his flight Tuesday that it was a problem and said more action was needed - insisting that the will to confront the abuse was present.

"It is true. there have been priests and even bishops who have done this", said Francis as quoted by Reuters. "It continues. And for some time we've been working on it", he said.

The Pope has also been accused of turning a blind eye to priestly abuse in his home country of Argentina, and even smearing an abuser's victims in order to avoid scandal according to Catholic publication, CruxNow.

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He said that priests and bishops had abused nuns, but said the Church was aware of the "scandal" and was "working on it", adding that a number of clerics had been suspended. "But it's a path that we have already begun", he said, the AP reported.

He said Benedict acted "because a certain slavery of women had crept in, slavery to the point of sexual slavery on the part of clergy or the founder", he said.

On his last flight home from an worldwide trip, just last week, Pope Francis warned that expectations for an upcoming landmark Vatican summit on clergy sexual abuse should be "deflated", as the problem was unlikely to be resolved through it.

Asked if he planned to call a bishops' conference similar to this month's summit to address clergy sex abuse of children, the Pope declined to answer.

"Pray that this goes forward", he said of the Vatican efforts to fight it.

The faithful greet and take photos of Pope Francis, center left, as he arrives for the weekly general audience on February 6, 2019 at Paul-VI hall in the Vatican. That case also cast a spotlight on the issue of abusive power relationships, and whether the Catholic Church ought to consider seminarians and sisters as "vulnerable adults" when compared to the priests and bishops who control everything from their vocations to their studies and salaries.

Similar cases has also been reported in India, where a bishop was arrested past year over allegations he raped a nun 13 times between 2014 and 2016.

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