22 Apr 2012

Network leader rejects Vatican view

5:34 am on 22 April 2012

The leader of a group of nuns in the United States that the Vatican accuses of flouting Church teaching has rejected this criticism.

"I've no idea what they're talking about," Sister Simone Campbell, head of Network, a social justice lobby, told the BBC.

On Wednesday the Vatican announced a crackdown on US nuns long considered too liberal by the church hierarchy.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a highly critical report that accused them of engaging in "corporate dissent" and of ignoring, or challenging the church's teachings on abortion, homosexuality and an all-male priesthood.

The report noted the good work they nuns did with the poor and in running schools and hospitals, but also documented what it called a "grave" doctrinal crisis.

It said the sisters were promoting radical feminist themes and criticised US nuns for challenging the bishops.

Network was singled out for criticism in the report for "being silent on the right to life" and other "crucial issues" to the church.

The group supports President Barack Obama's health care bill which includes provisions that American Catholic bishops regard as state funding for abortion.

Sister Campbell suggested that her organisation's support for the healthcare bill was behind the slapdown.

"There's a strong connection," she said. "We didn't split on faith, we split on politics."