Pope Francis on Tuesday disclosed that nuns have been sexually abused by priests and bishops, and even now are being held as sex slaves.
“The abuse was so severe in one case that an entire congregation of nuns was dissolved by former Pope Benedict,” CBS News reported.
The pope was speaking to reporters who were traveling with him on his return trip from the Arabian Peninsula.
He was asked whether enough was done by the church hierarchy to address the problem.
“The pontiff conceded that it was a problem and said more action was needed, and insisted the will to confront the abuse was there. He stressed that the problem was not new, and that the church has been working to address it for some time,” the CBS report said.
The abuse of nuns by members of the church clergy came to light this month with the publication of “Women Church World.”
Francis confirmed what long was known by the Vatican but never discussed.
He blamed abuse on the power held by priests and others.
“It’s a path that we’ve been on. 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,” he said.
CBS reported the order of nuns discontinued in 200 was the Community of St. Jean in France.
The pope said the abuse took place in “certain congregations, predominantly new ones and in certain regions more than others.”
Nuns in India and Chile have reported abuse by priests, the report said.
AP reported Tuesday it was the first time Francis publicly acknowledged the scandal of priests abusing nuns.
“It’s not that everyone does this, but there have been priests and bishops who have,” the pope told reporters. “And I think that it’s continuing because it’s not like once you realize it that it stops. It continues. And for some time we’ve been working on it.”
The revelations follow years of allegations of priests and bishops abusing minors.
It was the magazine report in Women Church World that also revealed the forced abortions for nuns.