Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Vatican clarifies pope on issue of 'sexual slavery' of nuns

Vatican clarifies pope on issue of 'sexual slavery' of nuns

The Vatican, for example, launched an investigation a year ago into a small religious order in Chile after sisters reported some of their fellow nuns had been thrown out of the congregation after they brought their complaints of abuse by priests to their mother superior.

The pontiff's comments on Tuesday to reporters on his return from the United Arab Emirates to the Vatican after a historic trip to the largely Muslim country were the first time he has addressed the issue of sexual abuse against nuns by priests, calling the attacks a larger "cultural problem".

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Francis also made reference to Pope Benedict XVI and how he took action against a France-based order that admitted their founding priest had sexually violated his female recruits.

In terms of the response of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis insisted that this had "already begun". The issue hit the headlines a year ago after a nun accused an Indian bishop of repeatedly raping her in a case that triggered rare dissent within the country's Catholic Church.

He said that priests and bishops had abused nuns, but said the Church was aware of the "scandal" and was "working on it", adding that a number of clerics had been suspended.

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

The Community of St Jean admitted in 2013 that Philippe, who died in 2006, had behaved "in ways that went against chastity" with several women in the order, according to the French Catholic newspaper La Croix. Mulakkal, 53, who headed the diocese of Jalandhar in the northern state of Punjab, has denied the allegations. A reporter had asked him about an article in a Vatican magazine about the abuse of nuns. The women were reportedly removed from the order after highlighting the abuse.

Scaraffia said the clerical abuse of nuns was a global issue, but one particularly prevalent in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

What have women in the Church said?
Mary Dispenza is a former nun who, when she was a child, suffered abuse from a priest.

"The revelations of the extent of abuse indicate clearly that the current structures must change if the church is to regain its moral credibility and have a viable future", the group said.

"Despite the diversity of cultures and traditions, the Christian and Islamic world appreciate and protect common values: life, family, religious sense, honor for the elderly, the education of young people, and still other things", he said.

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