Pope confirms sexual abuse of nuns by priests

Pope confirms sexual abuse of nuns by priests

The Vatican on Wednesday clarified statements by Pope Francis concerning the "sexual slavery" of nuns by a French order, saying he was referring to the abuse of power that is also present in cases of sexual abuse.

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

POPE FRANCIS: (Through interpreter) There are priests and even bishops who have done that.

Francis, however, asserted that the Catholic church has been taking measures to combat the abuse of nuns for years. "And I think that it's continuing because it's not like once you realise it that it stops".

More nuns have been coming forward to describe the abuse at the hands of priests and Bishops, after being inspired by the #MeToo movement.

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.

Pope Francis (R) leads mass for an estimated 170,000 Catholics at an Abu Dhabi sports stadium on February 5, 2019. 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.

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Mary Dispenza, a former nun who works with the American victims advocacy group, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (Snap), pushed the #Nunstoo hashtag on Twitter.

On Tuesday, the pope acknowledged that nuns in the church had been abused by priests and bishops, adding that in one case there had been "sexual slavery" perpetrated by clerics and the founder of a community.

The female congregation dissolved in 2005 under Pope Benedict was the Community of St Jean, which was based in France, Alessandro Gisotti of the Vatican press office told CBS News. The pontiff's admission marked the first time that the Catholic Church has openly acknowledged the veracity of claims of sexual abuse against nuns. My thoughts - he said - goes to the families suffering from the pain, as well as to the Haitian people struck by this new tragedy.

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

Last year, the Associated Press discovered cases of nuns having been sexually abused in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. "But he kept going... until the day he raped me".

In a separate case in India past year, a bishop was arrested over allegations that he raped a nun 13 times between 2014 and 2016.

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

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