Vatican, February 6: Pope Francis on Tuesday admitted nuns were sexually abused by Catholic priests and bishops, adding that "the Vatican is working on it". Responding to questions regarding allegations of rape by priests and bishops, Pope Francis also said that in one case nuns were kept as sex slaves. It is thought to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy.
"There are some priests and also bishops who have done it," the pontiff said in response to a journalist's question on the abuse of nuns, speaking on the return flight from his trip to the United Arab Emirates. His rare admission came days after the Women Church World, a supplement distributed with the Vatican's Osservatore Romano newspaper, nuns, who were raped by priests and religious sisters, were forced to have abortions or raise children not recognised by their fathers. Kiss Of Peace: Pope Francis, Grand Imam of Egypt Kiss In UAE, Call For World Peace; See Pic.
"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," editor Lucetta Scaraffia wrote. Reacting on the report, Pope Francis said the problem could be found "anywhere" but was prevalent in "some new congregations and in some regions". Pope and Top Muslim Cleric in Joint Call for Freedom of Belief.
"I think it's still going on, because it's not something that just goes away like that. On the contrary," he added. He said the Church has "suspended several clerics" and the Vatican has been "working (on the issue) for a long time". "I don't want to hear it said that the Church has not got this problem, because it has. "Must we do more? Yes! Do we want to? Yes!" he said.
The issue of sexual abuse of nuns by priests resurfaced last year after a nun in Kerala accused a bishop of repeatedly raping her in a case that triggered rare dissent within the country's Catholic Church. Bishop Franco Mulakkal was arrested on September 21 in Kerala on suspicion of raping the nun in question 13 times between 2014 and 2016.
Following the allegations, Mulakkal, who headed the diocese of Jalandhar in Punjab, was suspended by Pope Francis.