Pope Francis has publicly acknowledged for the first time priests and bishops have sexually abused nuns, including one case where they were reduced to “sexual slavery”. In a shock revelation, the pontiff also added he believed the sexual abuse is still going on. The news broke as the Pope boarded his plane, which was returning to Rome from the UAE.
Boarding the aircraft, he told reporters: “It’s not that everyone does this, but there have been priests and bishops who have.
“And I think that it’s continuing because it’s not like once you realise it that it stops.
“It continues. And for some time we’ve been working on it.
“Should we do something more? Yes. Is there the will? Yes.
“But it’s a path that we have already begun.”
On a question on whether there was a universal approach being formulated to deal with abuse of women in the church, the Pope implied the incidents are currently being dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
He said: “There are cases, usually in new congregations and in some regions more than others.
”We’re working on it.”
In November, the Catholic Church’s global organisation for nuns denounced the “culture of silence and secrecy” which prevents them from speaking out.
During the pontiff’s historic tour in the Middle East, he also admitted the Church had an issue with “seeing women as second class”.
Pope Francis said: ”Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women had entered it – slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery – on the part of clerics or the founder.”
“It’s a path that we’ve been on.”
The female congregation dissolved in 2005 under Pope Benedict was the Community of St Jean, based in France.
In 2013, the Community of St Jean admitted priests had behaved “in ways that went against chastity” with several women in the order, according to the French Roman Catholic newspaper La Croix.
Similar cases has also been reported in India, where a bishop was arrested last year over allegations he raped a nun 13 times between 2014 and 2016.
In Chile, reports of abuse of nuns carried out by priests led the Vatican to launch an investigation last year.