Washington: A 17,000-name petition in support of Roman Catholic nuns in the United States deemed too liberal by the Vatican has been delivered to the Holy See, organizers said Monday.
It asks Pope Francis "to personally intervene" to remove "unjust mandates" imposed two years ago on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which is under Vatican investigation for allegedly defying Catholic doctrine.
"On numerous occasions you have expressed a desire to expand leadership opportunities for women," the petitioners tell the pontiff.
"We respectfully suggest that the place to begin is to listen to faithful women who are already exercising leadership in the Roman Catholic church."
The petition was delivered by Kate McElwee, leader of the Nun Justice Project, a coalition of groups that support the LCWR, which represents most of the 57,000 nuns in the United States.
The Vatican`s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith accused the LCWR in 2012 of promoting "radical feminist themes" and "corporate dissent" and put it under investigation.
Then last April, the Church`s chief of doctrine Cardinal Gerhard Mueller accused American nuns of failing to adopt reforms imposed by the Vatican.
"The unjust mandate forced upon the nuns, which threatens their works of justice, is a prime example of how the hierarchy in the Roman Catholic Church misuses its power to diminish the voice of women," the Nun Justice Project has said.
"It is time to stop bullying Catholic women leaders," it added.
The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest religious denomination in America, where many regard Pope Francis as more liberal than his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, who retired in 2013.