Pope Admits Priests Have Been Keeping Nuns as ‘Sex Slaves’
Pope Francis reveals mass clergy abuse including sexual slavery of female Catholics
Pope Francis admitted for the first time on Tuesday that male priests and bishops have been sexually abusing nuns in the Catholic Church, and in some case, keeping them as sex slaves.
The pope made the stunning comments to reporters while on a historic tour of the Middle East.
He confessed that, in one case, his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests in a sex slavery ring, CBS News reported.
It is believed to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy members.
He said the Church was attempting to address the problem but admitted that it was "still going on."
“There are some priests and also bishops who have done it,” the pontiff told a reporter during his return flight from the United Arab Emirates, where he held the first-ever papal Mass in Abu Dhabi.
According to the New York Post, his admission followed a rare outcry last week from the Vatican’s monthly magazine Women’s Church World over the sexual abuse of nuns and religious sisters feeling forced to undergo abortions or raise kids not recognized by their fathers.
The February edition included the pope’s own take on the scandal — which the Vatican has long known about — in which he blamed the unchecked power wielded by priests and higher clergy for the crimes.
Francis conceded on his flight Tuesday that it was a problem and said more action was needed — insisting that the will to confront the abuse was present.
“It’s a path that we’ve been on,” he said.
"Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women had entered it — slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery — on the part of clerics or the founder."
A Vatican spokesman confirmed to CBS News that the order of nuns dissolved under Benedict was the Community of St. Jean in France.
The Saint Jean order was dissolved in 2005, the first year Benedict served as pope, though the reason it was disbanded had not previously been made public.
“I would like to underscore that he was a man who had the courage to do many things on this topic,” Francis said of his predecessor, who stepped down in 2013.
The pope said the problem only existed in “certain congregations, predominantly new ones and in certain regions more than others.”
He said the Catholic Church “shouldn’t be scandalized by this,” adding that “there are steps in a process,” and “we are working on it.”