Amid uproar, Vatican clarifies Pope's comments on 'sexual slavery' of nuns

Cheryl Sanders
February 8, 2019

'And I think that it's continuing because it's not like once you realise it that it stops.

"There have been priests and also bishops who have done that", the Pope said of sexually abusing nuns.

An article written by Lucetta Scaraffia in February's edition of Women Church World, a women's magazine of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romono, entitled "Without any touching", argues that such abuse has remained hidden within the Catholic Church, due to the "amgibuious" role of women.

Francis asserted that the church has taken measures to combat the problem of abuse against nuns for years, even going so far as to dissolve an entire order, but also admitted that more must be done.

The celebration of the late pope is 29th May on the General Roman Calendar, the universal schedule of holy days and feast days for the Latin rite of the Catholic Church.

File image of Pope Francis.

The admission followed a rare outcry last week from the Vatican women's magazine - Women Church World - over the sexual abuse of nuns by priests and religious sisters feeling forced to have abortions or raise children not recognised by their father.

"Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a women's congregation that had a certain level because this slavery of women had entered, even sexual slavery, by clerics or by the founder", the Pope said.

Last week a Vatican magazine reported on nuns aborting the children of priests And an investigation by the Associated Press past year revealed cases of abuse of nuns in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America - cases in which the Vatican had not sufficiently punished offenders or supported victims. "Is there will? Yes, but it's a path that we have already begun".

Then cardinal Ratzinger wanted to investigate the religious order where women were being abused but he was blocked, Pope Francis said, without saying who prevented the probe.

A day after Pope Francis created an global 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.

In 2013, the Community of St. Jean admitted that Philippe had behaved "in ways that went against chastity" - he died in 2006. But Francis has never raised the issue until he was asked to comment during a news conference aboard the papal plane returning to Rome from his trip to the United Arab Emirates.

Having considered the holiness of St Paul VI and the influence of his ministry for the Church worldwide, Pope Francis has approved putting the saint on the Church's universal calendar of feast days as an optional - not obligatory - memorial.

"There are cases, usually in new congregations and in some regions more than others", he said. The thing goes forward like this. "We're working on it", Francis said of ongoing cases of abuse of nuns.

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