The Pope's shocking comments were the first time he has publicly acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by Catholic bishops and priests.
"It is true. there have been priests and even bishops who have done this", Francis said, according to Reuters.
POPE FRANCIS: (Through interpreter) Pope Benedict had the courage to shut down a women's religious order because nuns had been reduced to slaves - even sex slaves by priests. The case caused a firestorm of protests on behalf of the nun and her fellow sisters, as well as backlash against the nun from within the church, underscoring the risks nuns face in reporting any abuse they suffer.
"She was courageous", Pope Francis told journalists later on his way to Rome. The pope's comments come two weeks before he hosts a gathering of bishops to craft a global response to the long-running scandal of paedophile priests who have targeted children and the church superiors who have covered up their crimes.
Francis' trip to the UAE, the first of a pope to the Arabian Peninsula, also fell 800 years after St. Francis of Assisi visited the Sultan Malik al Kamil in Egypt. Pope Francis said it was "Providence" that a pope named Francis made the historic trip on the 800th anniversary of the saint's visit. "But it's a path that we have already begun". Last year, the International Union of Superiors General, which represents more than 500,000 Catholic nuns, urged their members to report abuse.
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"I think it's still going on, because it's not something that just goes away like that".
Francis, however, asserted that the Catholic church has been taking measures to combat the abuse of nuns for years. "Many complaints have been filed with the Vatican and have not been followed up", said Scaraffia, who raised the issue in the February issue of "Women Church World", a supplement distributed with the Vatican's Osservatore Romano newspaper.
"I don't want to hear that the church has not got this problem, because it has".
"He was unable to control himself... he had a split personality".
After the cardinal became pope, he reopened the investigation and dissolved the order, Pope Francis said. In one case, around half a dozen religious sisters in a small congregation in Chile publicly revealed on national television their stories of abuse by priests and other nuns.