Pope Francis has confirmed that a congregation of nuns in France was dissolved after reports they were being used as 'sexual slaves'.
On Tuesday Pope Francis told CBS News US that nuns had been, and are still subject to, sexual abuse from Catholic priests and bishops. In the worst cases, have been treated as slaves by clergy.
He said, in one case, nuns at the French Community of St. Jean were abused so badly that the entire congregation was dissolved by his predecessor, Pope Benedict.
The order was dissolved in 2005, but the reason for this was never made public.
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Pope Francis said that the work of his predecessor had been crucial in the fight against sexual crime within the church, reported CBS.
"Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women who had entered it - slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery - on the part of clerics or the founder," the Pope said.
"I would like to underscore that he was a man who had the courage to do many things on this topic."
He told reporters that the Catholic Church "shouldn't be scandalised by this" and that officials were working on steps and a process to weed out similar on-going behaviours, reports CBS.
The Vatican has become more open in recent years about the abuse of nuns after years of stories about young boys across the globe being subjected to abuse at the hands of clergy members.