Pope Francis to nuns: Don't be old maids

Published: Wednesday, May 8 2013 10:41 a.m. MDT

Pope Francis greets faithful from his pope-mobile as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the Vatican at the end of his weekly general audience, Wednesday, May 8, 2013. Francis has told nuns from around the world that they must be spiritual mothers and not "old maids." Francis also warned the sisters against using their vocations for personal ambition, saying priests and sisters who do so "do more harm to the church." AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Andrew Medichini, AP

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has told nuns from around the world that they must be spiritual mothers and not "old maids."

Francis also warned the sisters against using their vocations for personal ambition, saying priests and sisters who do so "do more harm to the church."

Francis has complained frequently about such "careerism" in the church — a buzzword that is frequently used to describe Holy See bureaucrats.

The pope made the comments during an audience Wednesday with about 800 sisters attending an assembly of the International Union of Superiors General, which gathers the leaders of women's religious orders from some 75 countries.

The meeting came before Francis' general audience in St. Peter's Square, where in a break with tradition, he walked around a quadrant of the square greeting pilgrims.

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