A group representing most Catholic nuns in the U.S. says that it is stunned by criticism from the Vatican that it has not taken a strong enough stand against same-sex marriage and abortion.

In a statement issued last week, the Vatican said that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has shown “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

Rome further claimed that “the church’s biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes church teaching.”

It also criticised the group for being “silent on the right to life from conception to natural death.”

The LCWR is highly influential in America and around the world. It represents 80% of America’s 57,000 Catholic nuns.

The Archbishop of Seattle, Peter Sartain, has been ordered to lead the reform of the organisation over a period of up to five years.

In response, the presidency of the organisation said that it was “stunned by the conclusion of the doctrinal assessment of LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

It said that it would meet with its national board to review the mandate and prepare a response.

Sister Jo’Ann DeQattro, a Los Angeles nun, told the Los Angeles Times that the criticism was insulting and demoralising for nuns.

“This is the same church that ignored people who were being paedophiles. We really know why they’re focusing on the women. It’s all about control. It’s all about exercising authority,” she said.

Pope Benedict has repeatedly stated that homosexuality and same-sex unions are a threat to the survival of humanity.

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