Published: Fri, February 08, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Amid uproar, Vatican clarifies Pope's comments on 'sexual slavery' of nuns

Amid uproar, Vatican clarifies Pope's comments on 'sexual slavery' of nuns

New York Times: "Pope Acknowledges Nuns Were Sexually Abused by Priests and Bishops" - "Pope Francis said on Tuesday that the Roman Catholic Church had faced a persistent problem of sexual abuse of nuns by priests and even bishops, the first time he has publicly acknowledged the issue". His admission, aboard the papal plane returning from to Rome from a trip to the United Arab Emirates, is the first time the Church has confirmed such abuse.

Last week a Vatican magazine reported on nuns aborting the children of priests And an investigation by the Associated Press previous year revealed cases of abuse of nuns in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America - cases in which the Vatican had not sufficiently punished offenders or supported victims.

Reuters reports that in recent months, however, more nuns have been speaking out about the abuse that they have experienced from priests and bishops. The pope's comments come two weeks before he hosts a gathering of bishops to craft a global response to the long-running scandal of paedophile priests who have targeted children and the church superiors who have covered up their crimes.

After the cardinal became pope, he reopened the investigation and dissolved the order, Pope Francis said.

In one case, around half a dozen religious sisters in a small congregation in Chile publicly revealed on national television their stories of abuse by priests and other nuns.

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

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Francis implied at the February 5 news conference that the abuse of nuns by clergymen was being handed on a case-by-case basis.

"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. "But it's a path that we have already begun".

Pope Francis said sexual abuse of nuns was likely to be an ongoing problem in "new" congregations.

An article last week in Women Church World, the women's magazine of Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, blamed the abuse on the outsized power of priests.

He said Pope Benedict XVI took on the French order the Community of St. Jean, which later admitted in 2013 several nuns had been preyed upon by priests.

Pope Francis' admission of the problem was "the umpteenth blow to the Church's image, but also an occasion to show that change really is under way", Ms Scaraffia said. The pope at the time was John Paul II. "In an era, like ours, where there is a strong temptation to see a clash between Christian civilization and the Islamic one... we wanted to give another clear and decisive signal that encounter, respect and dialogue is possible", he said at his regular general audience.

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