‘I think it [the abuse of nuns by priests] is still taking place because it’s not as though the moment you become aware of something it goes away’

Pope intent on tackling sexual abuse of nuns by clergy
Farewell ceremony for Pope Francis at the UAE airport in the capital Abu Dhabi on February 5, 2019

Photo: ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

Pope Francis says he is intent on tackling the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy and says that a process to deal with the issue is underway.

Speaking on board the papal plane back from the United Arab Emirates, he argued the phenomenon was rooted in society’s mistreatment of women. He also stressed that religious congregations had been dissolved as a result of the sexual exploitation of nuns and that Benedict XVI had taken steps to tackle the issue.

“It’s true, it is a problem,” Francis told journalists when asked about the issue. “I dare to say that humanity has not yet matured. Women are [seen as] second class, and it starts from there. It is a cultural problem which eventually leads even to the killing of women.”

The sexual abuse of sisters by priests and others in authority, particularly in Africa and Asia, has been bubbling under the surface of the Church for decades, but is becoming increasingly visible. An article on the topic was published last week in the monthly women’s magazine published by Vatican newspaper, “L’Osservatore Romano,” and has been raised by the Union of Superiors General, the organisation of superiors of female religious communities. It is also likely to be discussed at the forthcoming summit on abuse in the Vatican on 21-24 February.

“There have been priests and even…