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Pope's Shocker on Nuns: 'Sexual Slavery,' Forced Abortions

'Do we have to do more? Yes. Are we willing? Yes.'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2019 6:03 AM CST
Pope Francis sits in front of the altar as he celebrates a mass in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

(Newser) – A shocking first emerged from the pope on Tuesday: admission of more sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, this time of nuns at the hands of male clergy. The New York Times notes it's the first time the pontiff has publicly recognized the church's very own #MeToo issue, despite the fact that its women in habits have been alleging such things for years around the world, including in Italy, South America, India, and Africa. "It's true ... there have been priests and even bishops who have done this," the pope said during a presser as his aircraft flew back to Rome after a trip to the United Arab Emirates, per Reuters. Then, a somewhat ominous addition: "I think it is still going on because something does not stop just because you have become aware of it."

His admission came after a reporter's question on a recent article in a Vatican magazine that mentioned how some abuse had resulted in pregnancies, children not recognized by their fathers, and even "imposed abortions." The Times notes reports like this have been around for decades, including one that noted 29 nuns in one Malawi congregation had been impregnated by priests who turned to nuns to keep themselves safe from AIDS. Francis also mentioned a female religious order in France that his predecessor, Pope Benedict, had shut down because of "sexual slavery on the part of priests and the founder." Francis said some clerics have been suspended, and that another female religious order under his watch (again unnamed) was being shuttered due to similar claims. "I can't say, 'This does not happen in my house,'" he said. "Do we have to do more? Yes. Are we willing? Yes." (Read more Catholic Church sex scandals stories.)

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