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Pope says priests and bishops molest Catholic nuns, admits cases of sexual slavery in church
POPE Francis for the first time acknowledged that nuns have been sexually abused by priests and bishops in the Catholic Church.
The comment which came in a press conference aboard the papal plane on the return flight from the United Emirates where for the first time also a Pope is visiting the Arabian Peninsula, comes as the Catholic Church is dealing with sexual abuse scandals in different parts of the world.
The Pope said that the development has been a problem that the Catholic Church is exploiting every avenue to handle.
He said, “There have been priests and also bishops who have done that,” the Pope said of sexually abusing nuns. “And I believe that it may still be being done. It’s not a thing that from the moment in which you realise it, it’s over. The thing goes forward like this. We’ve been working on this for a long time.”
The Pope said the Vatican has “suspended some clerics, sent them away for this” and “dissolved” some orders of nuns “that was very tied up in this, a corruption.”
“Must something more be done? Yes. Do we have the will? Yes,” he said.
Francis said there has been an instance where an order of nuns in France was dissolved by his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, after some faction in the Vatican tried to frustrate what he called sexual slavery of nuns in the church as a cardinal
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had tried to take action but was thwarted by Vatican insiders. At the time, Benedict was a cardinal and head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office.
“But when he became Pope, the first thing (he said was) bring me this from the archives and he began,” Pope Francis said.
“Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a women’s congregation that had a certain level because this slavery of women had entered, even sexual slavery, by clerics or by the founder,” the Pope said.
Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s official newspaper, last week published an article written by Lucetta Scaraffia on the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy, saying that “in this last year many new papers have raised the veil on this tragedy, and many religious from third world countries but also more advanced countries, have begun to speak and denounce it.”
“If we continue to close our eyes in front of this scandal — made even more serious by the fact that abuse of women includes procreation and so imposed abortions and children not recognized by priests — the condition of oppression of women in the church will never change,” the article read.
A congregation of nuns in India who spoke out about alleged sexual abuse by a bishop in the southern Indian state of Kerala claims the church is attempting to assign them to other parts of the country, in an attempt to silence them.
The nuns also alleged that the church officials have ordered them to leave the state, and have recently reached out to the chief minister of Kerala to intervene on their behalf.
All the nuns who have been served a transfer notice have formed a support group for a fellow nun who alleged last year that Bishop Franco Mulakkal had raped her 13 times between 2014 and 2016.