Vatican clarifies Pope's statement on sexual abuse of nuns

Pope Francis blesses worshipers during the weekly general audience on Feb. 6 2019 at Paul-VI hall in the Vatican

Pope Francis blesses worshipers during the weekly general audience on Feb. 6 2019 at Paul-VI hall in the Vatican. Andreas Solaro—AFP Getty Images

2 weeks before bishops' meet, says he's committed to doing more to fight the problemPope Francis has publicly acknowledged the scandal of priests and bishops sexually abusing nuns and vowed to do more to fight the problem, the latest sign that there is no end in sight to the Catholic Church's abuse crisis-and that it now has a reckoning from the #MeToo movement.

Francis mentioned the case of one order of nuns in particular, in France, in which his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, had tried to take action but was thwarted by Vatican insiders. Francis returned to Rome on Tuesday from the United Arab Emirates, where he presided in Abu Dhabi at the largest public Mass ever celebrated on the peninsula where Islam was born.

The papal admission followed a rare outcry last week from the Vatican's women's magazine over the sexual abuse of nuns, which forced them to have abortions or raise children not recognised by their priest fathers.

Associated Press: "After decades of silence, nuns talk about abuse by priests" - "The nun no longer goes to confession regularly, after an Italian priest forced himself on her while she was at her most vulnerable: recounting her sins to him in a university classroom almost 20 years ago".

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Pope Francis (R) leads mass for an estimated 170,000 Catholics at an Abu Dhabi sports stadium on February 5, 2019.

More than half a million nuns are represented by the group around the world. The abuse was "still going on, because it's not something that just goes away like that", he added. At the time, Benedict was a cardinal and head of the Vatican's doctrinal office. "But it's a path that we have already begun", Francis said.

An article last week in Women Church World, the women's magazine of Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, blamed the abuse on the outsized power of priests.

That community admitted in 2013 that the priest who founded it had behaved "in ways that went against chastity" with several women in the order, according to French Catholic newspaper La Croix. "It can come to this", Francis said. The congregation of nuns dissolved under Benedict was the Sisters Mariales d'Israel, a spokesman for the parent order said. In the past year, The Associated Press and other media have reported on cases of abused nuns in India, Africa, Europe and South America - evidence that the problem is by no means limited to a certain geographic area. "In an era, like ours, where there is a strong temptation to see a clash between Christian civilization and the Islamic one... we wanted to give another clear and decisive signal that encounter, respect and dialogue is possible", he said at his regular general audience.

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