Pope Francis Acknowledges Sexual Abuse of Nuns by Priests, Bishops

Pope Francis Acknowledges Sexual Abuse of Nuns by Priests, Bishops

A little girl defied tight security to fulfil her dream on Tuesday (February 5), breaking through a police cordon to greet Pope Francis.

The Vatican later clarified that description on Wednesday, saying that the reference to sexual slavery was meant to illustrate the "manipulation or a type of abuse of power that is reflected in a sexual abuse".

Pope Francis said the Roman Catholic Church has faced a persistent problem of sexual abuse of nuns by priests and even bishops, the first time he has publicly acknowledged the issue.

He recalled that over one million Christians live in the UAE, mainly workers from Asian countries, and that he met with representatives of the Catholic community at Abu Dhabi's St Josepth Cathedral, celebrating a mass with patriarchs, archbishops and bishops in which they "prayed in particular for peace and justice, with special intention for the Middle East and Yemen". She said she only told 2 people of the incident at the time, her provincial superior and her spiritual director because she felt silenced by the Catholic Church's culture of secrecy.

Pope Francis said that his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, dissolved a religious order because of the rampant sexual abuse that is happening inside the organization.

If the church "continues to close its eyes to the scandal", wrote Lucetta Scaraffia, "the condition of oppression of women in the church will never change".

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Speaking to the press while on tour in the United Arab Emirates, Pope Francis admitted that the sexual abuse of nuns was likely "still going on" in certain corners of the Church. And just last week, the women's magazine of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano identified the clerical culture of the all-powerful clergy as the culprit.

The papal admission followed a rare outcry last week from the Vatican's women's magazine, "Women Church World", over the rape of nuns, leaving them feeling forced to have abortions or raise children not recognised by their priest fathers. "And I believe that it may still be being done".

'And I think that it's continuing because it's not like once you realise it that it stops. He also noted that 800 years after St. Francis of Assisi's visit to Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil, providence wanted "a pope named Francis" to fulfill this visit. Do we have the will?

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he had headed the Vatican department that investigates sexual abuse, but his efforts had been "blocked". The pope at the time was John Paul II.

It comes as the United States is facing a growing reckoning of its own as almost two dozen local, state, or federal investigations, either criminal or civil, have been launched into the Roman Catholic Church over child sexual abuse allegations. Phillipe died in 2006.