The largest body of Catholic nuns in the U.S. called for a change in the structure of the predominantly male-led Catholic Church on Thursday after Pope Francis publicly acknowledged that priests had been sexually abusing nuns.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) issued a public statement calling for the church to rectify the issue of sexual abuse by members of the clergy.
"The revelations of the extent of abuse indicate clearly that the current structures must change if the church is to regain its moral credibility and have a viable future," it said.
The LCWR statement comes after Pope Francis said the church was facing a problem of clergy abusing nuns and that the issue was being looked into and worked on, according to reports.
His comments mark the first time a pope has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns in the Catholic Church.
The LCWR, which represents about 80 percent of the Catholic nuns in the U.S., said they are grateful that the pope was able to "shed light on a reality that has been largely hidden from the public".
The organization offered two structural changes in its statement: create mechanisms where victims can report abuse in a safe environment, and reorganize leadership structures so not all power is afforded to the clergy.
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