An international uproar was caused by the statements made by Pope Francis saying that there is a congregation in the Roman Catholic Church that has been confirmed to have a culture of sexual abuse and sex slavery. Riding his papal plane from UAE, where he had a three-day interreligious conference, the Pope said that a congregation in France had been dissolved by his predecessor, Pope Benedict Xvi, because of sexual slavery.
However, earlier today, the Vatican has clarified the remarks of the head of the Church. Vatican spokesperson Alessandro Gisotti has explained that what Pope Francis meant with his statements, that Catholic nuns are subjected to ‘sexual slavery,’ was that they are instead subjected “to ‘manipulation,’ a form of abuse of power which is also reflected in sexual abuse.”
The Pope’s shocking remarks made yesterday was the first time that the Vatican has publicly acknowledge the sexual assaults and harassment that has been perpetrated by priests and other high ranking officials. To this date, the majority of the cases of clergy abuse scandals has focused on minors, who represent the majority of the cases.
Many Catholics, including Catholic media, has said that the abuse by clergies has long been happening and that the Vatican has to do something about it. In response, the Pope said that it has called on a conference of relevant bishops and cardinals to talk about “the problem” on February 21-24 in Rome.
The issue was prompted when a Vatican news outlet released a story about how Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who was later elected as Pope Benedict XVI and has become Pope Francis’ predecessor has launched an investigation regarding the sexual abuse of women and children in the Church. In a statement yesterday, Pope Francis revealed that there is a congregation that Benedict XVI has dissolved. According to the Vatican, the Pope is referring to the Community of St. John, a religious group founded in France in the 1970s. The group split into two, with one moving to Spain after the founder died.
In 2013, the organization publicly admitted that their founder, Rev. Marie-Dominique Philippe, “sometimes made gestures contrary to chastity,” with several women under his spiritual direction, according to La Croix, a Catholic newspaper in France. /apr