Pope hopes his Arabian trip will help Islam-Christian relations

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SOME nuns are being used as sex slaves by Catholic priests and bishops, Pope Francis said as he vowed to do more to tackle abuse in the church. The acknowledgment comes just two weeks before he hosts an unprecedented gathering of bishops to craft a global response to the scandal of priestly predators who target children and the superiors who covered up the crimes.

Reporting by The Associated Press and other news media, as well as the reckoning demanded by the #MeToo movement, has brought the issue of sexual violence against nuns to the fore, such that #Nunstoo has been trending in recent days.

By Robin GomesThe Etihad Airways flight carrying Pope Francis from Abu Dhabi at the end of his February 3-5 apostolic visit to the UAE, landed ahead of schedule at Rome's Ciampino airport Tuesday evening. He also noted that 800 years after St. Francis of Assisi's visit to Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil, providence wanted "a pope named Francis" to fulfill this visit.

"There have been priests and also bishops who have done that", the Pope said of sexually abusing nuns.

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Mary Dispenza, a former nun who works with the American victims advocacy group, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (Snap), pushed the #Nunstoo hashtag on Twitter.

The Vatican, for example, launched an investigation previous year into a small religious order in Chile after sisters reported some of their fellow nuns had been thrown out of the congregation after they brought their complaints of abuse by priests to their mother superior.

The congregation of nuns dissolved under Benedict was the Sisters Mariales d'Israel, a spokesman for the parent order said.

Pope Francis' admission of the problem was "the umpteenth blow to the Church's image, but also an occasion to show that change really is under way", Ms Lucetta Scaraffia said.

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In his talk, the pope reflected on the historic nature of his visit, which was the first time a pope visited the Arabian Peninsula. My thoughts - he said - goes to the families suffering from the pain, as well as to the Haitian people struck by this new tragedy. Last year, the International Union of Superiors General, which represents more than 500,000 Catholic nuns, urged their members to report abuse. "Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women had entered it - slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery - on the part of clerics or the founder", Francis said according to MSN News.

In the Indian case, Bishop Franco Mulakkal was arrested on September 21 in the southern state of Kerala on suspicion of raping the nun in question 13 times between 2014 and 2016.

"I don't want to hear that the church has not got this problem, because it has".

She said the issue was abusive power relationships, with clerics controlling everything from nuns' vocations to their salaries.

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