Published: Wed, February 06, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Pope Francis admits nuns reduced to 'sexual slavery' by priests

Pope Francis admits nuns reduced to 'sexual slavery' by priests

Pope Francis is visiting the United Arab Emirates from 03 to 05 February. Pope Francis heads to the UAE on 3 February for the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula, birthplace of Islam, where he will hold an open-air mass for tens of thousands of Catholics.

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 piece encouraged nuns to report their abusers, while also admitting that the problem of abuse by priests was neither new nor rare - citing the Pope's own words to explain how it was entrenched in the very structure of the Church.

The issue was raised amid the Catholic Church's overarching scandal of the sexual abuse of minors as hundreds of clergy have been identified over the a year ago with decades-old abuses that have been covered up and the "Me Too" era awareness that women, nuns in this case, can be victims of abuse when there is an imbalance of power in the relationship.

"It's a path that we've been on", he said. In January 2018, he dismissed accusations that Chilean bishop Juan Barros had covered up sexual abuse committed there by a priest named Fernando Karadima.

Pope Francis said on Tuesday that more needed to be done to stop the mistreatment of women.

He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests.

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Francis admitted to the problem for the first time in public during a news conference while returning to Rome from the United Arab Emirates.

"Must we do more? Yes!"

"It is true. there have been priests and even bishops who have done this", said Francis as quoted by Reuters. In the past year, The Associated Press and other media have reported on cases of abused nuns in India, Africa, Europe and South America - evidence that the problem is by no means limited to a certain geographic area.

Lucetta Scaraffia, editor of the publication, wrote, "If the Church continues to close its eyes to the scandal - made even worse by the fact that abuse of women brings about procreation and is therefore at the origin of forced abortions and children who aren't recognised by priests - the oppression of women in the Church will never change".

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. "We're working on it. It can come to this", Francis said.

"Asked if any universal norms might be in the works to tackle the problem - as has been done to handle cases of clergy sexual abuse of minors - Francis implied that the priestly abuse of nuns was still being dealt with on a case-by-case basis", the AP reported. "We are working on it", he repeated.

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