Vatican clarifies Pope's statement on sexual abuse of nuns

Blanche Robertson
February 8, 2019

Then cardinal Ratzinger wanted to investigate the religious order where women were being abused but he was blocked, Pope Francis said, without saying who prevented the probe.

In Chile, reports of abuse of nuns carried out by priests led the Vatican to launch an investigation past year.

SOME nuns are being used as sex slaves by Catholic priests and bishops, Pope Francis said as he vowed to do more to tackle abuse in the church.

Pope Francis said former pope Benedict dissolved a religious order of women shortly after his election as pontiff in 2005 "because slavery had become part of it (the religious order), even sexual slavery on the part of priests and the founder".

The Pope's comments, which came during a news conference aboard the papal plane on a return flight to Rome from the United Arab Emirates, come as the Catholic Church is dealing with sexual abuse scandals on several continents.

"It's not that everyone does this, but there have been priests and bishops who have", Francis said, according to The Associated Press.

"I think it's still going on, because it's not something that just goes away like that. We've been working on this for a long time". Do we have to do more? Yes. Is there the will? Yes. "But it's a path that we have already begun", he added.

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The International Union of Superiors General denounced the "culture of silence and secrecy" that stopped nuns from speaking out last November.

An article written by Lucetta Scaraffia in February's edition of Women Church World, a women's magazine of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romono, entitled "Without any touching", argues that such abuse has remained hidden within the Catholic Church, due to the "amgibuious" role of women. Women Church World magazine reported allegations that some nuns were forced to have abortions after abuse by priests.

Francis, however, asserted that the Catholic church has been taking measures to combat the abuse of nuns for years.

A day after Pope Francis created an worldwide uproar by saying Catholics nuns had been subjected to "sexual slavery" by the founder of a French order, the Vatican sought to clarify his remarks.

"There are cases, usually in new congregations and in some regions more than others", he said. The issue hit the headlines past year after a nun accused an Indian bishop of repeatedly raping her in a case that triggered rare dissent within the country's Catholic Church. The bishop, Franco Mulakkal, was subsequently arrested and faces prosecution. The case caused a firestorm of protests on behalf of the nun and her fellow sisters, as well as backlash against the nun from within the church, underscoring the risks nuns face in reporting any abuse they suffer.

As for the church's efforts to route out abuse, Francis urged the faithful to pray that the church is successful in doing so.

"I don't want to hear that the church has not got this problem, because it has".

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