Battle of wills: Tiny order of French nuns takes on Vatican

FILE - In this Sunday, April 1, 2018 file photo, nuns are silhouetted in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. The Vatican is facing a dilemma after near

FILE - In this Sunday, April 1, 2018 file photo, nuns are silhouetted in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. The Vatican is facing a dilemma after near

FILE - In this Tuesday, June 26, 2018 file photo, a ray of sun sheds light on nun sitting inside the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome. The Vatican

FILE - In this Tuesday, June 26, 2018 file photo, a ray of sun sheds light on nun sitting inside the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome. The Vatican

Framed by a Christmas tree, Pope Francis delivers his speech during the Angelus noon prayer he delivered from his studio window overlooking St. Peter'

Framed by a Christmas tree, Pope Francis delivers his speech during the Angelus noon prayer he delivered from his studio window overlooking St. Peter'

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican has an unusual dilemma on its hands after nearly all the nuns in a tiny French religious order threatened to renounce their vows rather than accept the Holy See's decision to remove their superior.

The sisters argue that the Vatican commissioners sent to replace their superior general, who is also the niece of the order's founder, have no understanding of their way of life or spirituality. The church's conclusion — contained in a summary of its investigation provided this week to The Associated Press — is that the Little Sisters of Marie, Mother of the Redeemer are living "under the tight grip" of an "authoritarian" superior.

The standoff marks an extraordinary battle of wills between the Vatican hierarchy and the group of 39 nuns, who run homes for the aged in rural western and southern France.