Pope Francis to 800 nuns: Don’t be ‘spinsters’

Pope Francis said to a crowd of 800 nuns at the Vatican on Wednesday: Be obedient to the church, be spiritual “mothers” — but don’t be “spinsters.”

The 76-year-old pontiff made the remarks at the assembly of the International Union of Superiors General. He also told the nuns to shoot for “fertile chastity — a chastity which produces spiritual children within the church,” Agence France-Presse reported.

“The ordained woman is a mother. She must be a mother and not a spinster,” he said to the gathered nuns, who hailed from religious orders in 75 countries, AFP reported. “It is not possible to understand [the Virgin] Mary without maternity, nor the church without motherhood.”

By way of context for the statements: The pope in April supported a report from the previous church leader, Benedict XVI, that accused nuns in the United States of forming a rebellion against Catholic principles.

On Wednesday at the Vatican, Francis reminded the nuns to “remember that the relationship between authority and obedience is located within the context of the mystery of the church,” AFP reported.

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