Washington: The Vatican has told off the biggest association of nuns in the United States for failing to obey the administrator it installed to keep the group in line and for giving an award to a controversial theologian.
German cardinal Ludwig Mueller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) had not implemented fully the Vatican`s recommendations.
Mueller told the LCWR in a statement released by the Vatican on Tuesday that it should have submitted its list of speakers and presentations at its upcoming assembly to Archbishop Peter Sartain for final approval.
"It allows the Holy See`s delegate to be involved in the discussion first of all in order to avoid difficult and embarrassing situations," Mueller said.
The cardinal said this would also "anticipate better the issues that will further complicate the relationship of the LCWR with the Holy See".
Mueller also expressed regret over the LCWR`s decision to give an award at its assembly to a theologian criticised by US bishops for "doctrinal errors".
"It further alienates LCWR from the bishops," he said.
The LCWR in a short statement said that the talks with Mueller had been "respectful and engaging".
But US religion expert Ken Briggs wrote in the National Catholic Reporter that Mueller`s comments were a case of "bad cop" to Pope Francis`s "good cop" message.
Briggs said Francis might be "a troubadour for harmony on his own while allowing the enforcers of `orthodoxy` to keep firing away at what they consider dissent".
A Vatican report in 2012 accused LCWR, which represents around 45,000 US nuns and is known for its social activism, of holding "radical feminist" views.
The report also accused LCWR members of "dissent" with Church teachings against complexity and the Vatican placed the conference under its direct tutelage.