For what is believed to be the first time, Pope Francis- speaking to reporters while on a historic tour of the Middle East on Tuesday- admitted that nuns were sexually abused at the hands of clerics (and in one case, they were even kept as sex slaves). Francis also said that his predecessor, Pope Benedict, “was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests.”1
This is just another scandal for the Catholic church. (The long-running cases of sexual abuse of children and young men by priests at the Church.)
The Pope said that while the Church had been “attempting to address the problem”1 it was “still going on”.1 His belief is that the problems lie in the fact that women are seen as “second class.” At that time he also assured reporters that the Church was aware of the “scandal”1 and was “working on it.”1
Although he added that a number of clerics had been suspended, I think it’s clear that whatever they are doing and have been doing over the last couple of years, it’s working.
“‘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.’
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.”1
- Last year in India Bishop Franco Mulakkal, head the diocese in Jalandhar in the northern state of Punjab, was arrested over allegations that he raped a nun 13 times between 2014 and 2016. He denied the accusations.
- In Chile, reports of abuse of nuns carried out by priests led the Vatican to launch an investigation last year. The women were reportedly removed from the order after highlighting the abuse.
- In 2018 the Associated Press news agency reported cases of abuse in Italy and Africa.
- Also in 2018, French website Le Parisien reported the case of “Christelle” (in French), a former nun (her name was changed to preserve anonymity) who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a priest of her congregation in France between 2010 and 2011, “His gestures became more and more inappropriate. But he kept going… until the day he raped me.”
This week, editor of Women Church World, condemned the abuse and said that the Pope’s acknowledgment of the abuse was helpful but that “If the Church continues to close its eyes to the scandal… the condition of oppression of women in the church will never change.”
We couldn’t agree more.