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Protesters March To Cardinal's Home To Support Nuns In Dispute With Vatican

CHICAGO (CBS) -- About 60 Catholic activists marched from Holy Name Cathedral to Cardinal George's residence as a show of support for the nation's nuns, whom the Vatican accuses of having serious doctrinal problems.

The object of the Vatican's wrath is the Leadership Conference for Women Religious, which represents the leaders of most of the nation's Catholic women's religious orders.

The Vatican says the group has made or allowed statements that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops on a series of issues, including abortion, gay marriage and ordination of women.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Bob Roberts reports


Protest organizer Bob Heinemann wants Cardinal George to urge the Vatican to call off the investigation.

The protesters hoped to deliver a letter to the Cardinal, signed by many of them. Chicago Police met them outside of the Cardinal's residence, at 1555 N. State Pkwy., and told them that they were in violation of a city ordinance that forbids demonstrations outside of a private residence.

The protesters briefly lit sparklers as a police officer took the letter, posted on a 16"x20" poster board, to a side entrance. They then disbanded.

Chicago is one of more than 50 cities in which similar processions and rallies are taking place this week. Supporters of the nuns say it could trigger the biggest exodus of Catholics from the pews since early in the clergy sex abuse scandal.

The Vatican action comes in the wake of two investigations, launched by Vatican officials in 2008 and 2009, one of which has been completed but not made public. The other, known as a "doctrinal assessment," concluded that the Leadership Conference has prompted "certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.

Heineman said the Vatican wants the Leadership Conference to be more outspoken against abortion and same-sex marriage. Officials of the Leadership Conference have not yet responded publicly.

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