Pope Francis has acknowledged for the first time the sexual abuse of nuns by priests and bishops, saying he is committed to making the changes to stop it.
The pope made the comments to reporters during a plane ride from Abu Dhabi to Rome. A reporter had asked him about an article in a Vatican magazine about the abuse of nuns.
“It is true ... there have been priests and even bishops who have done this,” Francis said, according to Reuters. “I think it is still going on because something does not stop just because you have become aware of it.
“We have been working on this for a long time. We have suspended some priests because of this. … I can’t say ‘this does not happen in my house.’ It is true. Do we have to do more? Yes. Are we willing? Yes.”
The pope further said that the Vatican was shutting down a female religious order involved in the abuse scandal, according to Reuters.
Last year, the Associated Press discovered cases of nuns having been sexually abused in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. Nuns often were hesitant to report the crimes out of fear of retaliation and partially due to their “ingrained” subservient status within the church, AP said.
Reuters reports that in recent months, however, more nuns have been speaking out about the abuse that they have experienced from priests and bishops. Reportedly, a representative to more than 500,000 Catholic nuns, the International Union of Superiors General, encouraged its members to report abuse.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Giulio Origlia/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.