Pope Francis has publicly admitted that s*xual abuse of nuns by priests is an ongoing issue within the Catholic Church, during an historic visit to the Middle East.

The BBC reports that it is “thought to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the s*xual abuse of nuns by the clergy”, which the Pope said has been occurring largely in “certain congregations, predominantly new ones and in certain regions more than others”.

“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 s*xual slavery – on the part of clerics or the founder,” Pope Francis said.

Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti confirmed to CBS News that the order that had been dissolved was the Community of St. Jean in France, which was shuttered in 2005.

Pope Francis told reporters that the Catholic Church, “shouldn’t be scandalised by this,” adding that “there are steps in a process,” and “we are working on it.”

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