Pope admits to sexual abuse and slavery of nuns by Church clergy - Says roots lay in Christian society "seeing women as second class"
Nuns in India who are victims of similar abuse still await justice as the Church forsakes them.
In a damning admission of sexual abuse of Nuns in the Church, Pope Francis has admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns. He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests and in one case they were kept as sex slaves.. The Pople of the Roman Catholic Church said the Church was attempting to address the problem but admitted that it was "still going on".
This admission by Pope Francis could be the first time that he has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy. Last November, the Catholic Church's global organisation for nuns denounced the "culture of silence and secrecy" that prevented them from speaking out. The Pope's comments come amid long-running cases of sexual abuse of children and young men by priests at the Church.
Sex abuse and the Catholic Church
Speaking to reporters while on a historic tour of the Middle East on Tuesday, the Pope admitted that the Church had an issue, and the roots lay in society "seeing women as second class". 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 Francis said sexual abuse of nuns was an ongoing problem, but happened largely in "certain congregations, predominantly new ones".
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. In 2013, the Community of St Jean admitted that priests had behaved "in ways that went against chastity" with several women in the order, according to the French Roman Catholic newspaper La Croix.
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. Last year, the Associated Press news agency reported cases of abuse in Italy and Africa.
Few weeks ago the Vatican's women's magazine, Women Church World, reported that in many cases nuns were forced to abort priests' children. The Editor of the magazine Lucetta Scaraffia wrote that while Pope Francis's acknowledgement of the abuse "can be of some help", but warned that the Church needs to act. The magazine said the #MeToo movement meant more women were now coming forward with their stories.
Last year, French website Le Parisien reported the case of "Christelle" (in French), a former nun whose name was changed to preserve anonymity. Christelle said she had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a priest of her congregation in France between 2010 and 2011. She said that despite her objection, he raped her repeatedly.
Abuse of Nuns in Indian Church
In several cases reported from various Churches in India, indicate that the Indian Church is as big a culprit in sexual abuse of its nuns as the Roman Catholic Church the world over. Several nuns have accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of sexual abuse but the Church seems to be lenient about his crimes.
Bishop Franco, who headed the diocese in Jalandhar, was arrested over allegations that he raped a nun 13 times between 2014 and 2016. Though he has denied the accusations, many more nuns came forward to narrate their horrifying experiences.
Sister Jesme one of the nuns who came out in the open against Bishop Franco. But instead of standing by her, the Church was expelled and isolated by the community.
Sister Lucy Kalapura wrote about the sexual abuse of nuns in Kerala church in Nun’s memoir, Karthavinte Namathil. The book exposed the shenanigans of the Chruch and narrated numerous instances of abuse of nuns at the hands of priests and Bishops in Kerala. She had also protested against Bishop Franco. However, Sister Lucy was expelled from the Franciscan Clarist Congregation last year for exposing the misdeeds of the Church.
Last year, a Associated Press investigation on sexual abuse of Nuns in India revealed how nuns talk of priests who pushed into their bedrooms and of priests who pressured them to turn close friendships into sex. They talked about being groped and kissed, of hands pressed against them by men they were raised to believe were representatives of Jesus Christ. Nuns described in detail the sexual pressure they endured from priests in India, and nearly two dozen other people - nuns, former nuns and priests, and others - said they had direct knowledge of such incidents.