Sister Cristina Scuccia
Sister Cristina Scuccia performs during the Italian State RAI TV show final The Voice of Italy in Milan on 5 June, 2014Getty Images

The release of Sister Cristina Scuccia's first single, a soulful version of Madonna's 1980s classic Like a Virgin has caused a backlash among Italian bishops who called it a "reckless and sly commercial operation".

Upon the release of the controversial single, the 26-year-old nun, who triumphed in Italy's version of The Voice, claimed she has only pure intentions and her song refers to an eternal loving force. Despite the sexual connotations of Madonna's 1984 pop hit, Scuccia said she had no desire to provoke or scandalise.

"If you read the lyrics without being influenced by what has gone before, you discover that it is a song about the capacity of love to make people new again. To release them from their past. And this is how I wanted to interpret it," she told Catholic newspaper Avvenire.

But conservative Italian bishops disagree. "Whereas the use of the binomial 'holy water/devil' has much traction on the audience, not even the Americans of Sister Act would have thought of such a reckless move," they said in a statement.

Then, they hinted that Scuccia covered a Madonna song with the purpose to cause controversy after unsuccessful sales post-The Voice victory.

Scuccia said she wanted to transform the song from the pop-dance piece into a romantic ballad, "something more similar to a secular prayer than to a pop song", but bishops were not impressed with these remarks calling her a "naif".

Scuccia's single came after an assembly of Roman Catholic bishops drafted a revolutionary document saying that homosexuals have "gifts and qualities to offer" the Christian community. While the document was watered down after the inevitable backlash by some conservative bishops, it nonetheless signalled a shifting attitude on the Church's traditionally judgemental treatment of gay people.

Distancing himself from the rigid doctrinal attitude of Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis has adopted a merciful tone toward homosexuals, civil unions and cohabitation, hinting at a more welcoming church.

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