It’s not just the sexual abuse of children, mostly boys, by Catholic priests that have rocked the church—earlier this week Pope Francis confirmed that the mistreatment of women has been a problem in some congregations around the world as well.
In a shocking revelation, the pope said nuns have and continue to be sexually abused by Catholic bishops and priests, going so far as to say some have been sexual slaves.
The scope of the abuse of nuns by clergy members first came to light with the publication at the beginning of February of the monthly Vatican magazine "Women Church World." The edition included Francis' own take on the scandal -- long known about by the Vatican but virtually never discussed -- in which he blamed the unchecked power wielded by priests and higher clergy across the Catholic Church for such crimes.
An Associated Press journalist who first reported on the scandal last year asked Pope Francis on his flight home from the Arabian Peninsula on Tuesday whether enough was being done by the Church hierarchy to address the problem.
The pontiff conceded that it was a problem and said more action was needed. He insisted the will to confront the abuse is there, and stressed that the problem is not new, and that the Church has been working to address it for some time. (CBS News)
"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," the pope said.
Francis was referring to the Community of St. Jean in France, where, in 2005 under Benedict, an order of nuns was dissolved for reasons that were never disclosed at the time.
"I would like to underscore that he was a man who had the courage to do many things on this topic," Pope Francis said of Benedict.
Without going into much detail, Francis said the abuse of women has been a problem in “certain congregations, predominately new ones and in certain regions more than others.”
He said these cases of sexual abuse should not scandalize the Catholic Church, noting that “we are working on it.”