(Washington Times) 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.”

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