Newshour, Pope admits sexual abuse of nuns by clergy

Dialogue with Islam key for peace - pope

Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, reflected on his Journey to the United Arab Emirates, at his General Audience on Wednesday.

Men occupy the higher levels in the Catholic Church, it says, and they have been the one creating an atmosphere of fear for speaking up against authority.

"We tried to reach out to the Pope because in some of the countries he visits, an amnesty for the release of non-violent prisoners sometimes happens".

Francis said the Vatican has "suspended some clerics, sent them away for this" and "dissolved" some orders of nuns "that were very tied up in this, a corruption". Some hope the church will address the issue at the upcoming meeting on the abuse crisis to be convened by Pope Francis from February 21 to 24 in Rome.

The LCWR, which represents about 80 percent of Catholic sisters in the USA, said it was grateful Francis had "shed light on a reality that has been largely hidden from the public and we believe his honesty is an important and significant step forward". He said Benedict acted "because a certain slavery of women had crept in, slavery to the point of sexual slavery on the part of clergy or the founder".

"There are cases, usually in new congregations and in some regions more than others".

Where is the abuse said to have taken place?

POGGIOLI: He did not name the order, but a Vatican spokesman said it was the French order Contemplative Sisters of Saint-Jean.

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St Jean was permanently closed down in 2005 after it was revealed that numerous resident priests had behaved "in ways that went against chastity". Mulakkal, 53, who headed the diocese of Jalandhar in the northern state of Punjab, has denied the allegations. The women were reportedly removed from the order after highlighting the abuse.

What have women in the Church said?

Back when he was a cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) wanted to investigate the said French religious order where women are being abused, but he was blocked.

"If the Church continues to close its eyes to the scandal... the condition of oppression of women in the church will never change", she wrote. My thoughts - he said - goes to the families suffering from the pain, as well as to the Haitian people struck by this new tragedy.

"If it has been admitted, there should be consequences", Reisinger, herself a former nun, said.

The issue of the abuse of nuns was raised in a Vatican magazine article published last week which detailed reports of sexual abuse by clerics resulting in nuns having abortions or giving birth to children fathered by priests.

"His gestures became more and more inappropriate", she said, adding: "But he kept going... until the day he raped me".

She added: "He was unable to control himself... he had a split personality".

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