New Delhi: For the first time, Pope Francis has publicly admitted that Catholic priests and bishops have sexually abused nuns.

Speaking during his return from the United Arab Emirates, the pontiff in response to a question on the issue told the reporters that there are some priests as well as bishops who had sexually abused nuns, AFP reported.

The Pope further said that the abuse of nuns was prevalent in “some new congregations and in some regions”. He added that “I think it’s still going on, because it’s not something that just goes away like that.”

Francis asserted that the Church has been “working” on the issue for long, and taken action against “several clerics”.

The pope said that the issue lies in the culture of “seeing women as a second class”.

Notably, this comes in the backdrop of Vatican’s women’s magazine raising the issue of abuse of nuns not being acknowledged by their priest fathers.

“If the Church continues to close its eyes to the scandal — made even worse by the fact that abuse of women brings about procreation and is therefore at the origin of forced abortions and children who aren’t recognised by priests — the oppression of women in the Church will never change,” editor Lucetta Scaraffia noted in the magazine.

It must be noted that a nun from India’s Kerala last year accused bishop Franco Mulakkal of raping her several times between 2014 and 2016, leading to an outcry within the country’s Catholic Church.