The Vatican is investigating the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, allegedly because it has not towed the official line sufficiently on teachings on homosexuality and other issues.

The nuns’ organisation said in a statement this week that the “doctrinal assessment” will investigate its activities and initiatives.

Reports suggest that Vatican officials will investigate the sisters’ activities in promoting the church’s teachings on the exclusively male status of the priesthood, the primacy of the Catholic Church over other Christian denominations, and the “problem of homosexuality.”

In December Pope Benedict XVI claimed that the existence of gay people is as great a threat to humanity as the destruction of the rainforest.

He also attacked trans people and claimed that a “blurring” of genders would lead to the extinction of the human race.

The pontiff made his remarks in an “end of year” address to the Vatican’s central administration, the Curia.

The Pope said behaviour beyond traditional heterosexual relations is “a destruction of God’s work.”

Benedict also said man must be protected “from the destruction of himself” and urged respect for the “nature of the human being as man and woman.”

“The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less.”