Women released pink smoke over the Vatican in protest of Roman Catholic tradition that denies to ordain women as priests. The group of women includes members of the Woman Priests organization who challenge the current traditions.
As Roman Catholic cardinals meet to elect a new pope, The Women’s Ordination Conference and their supporters gathered at Piazza Garibaldi in opposition to the all-male conclave. The women, clad in pink shirts, hope to raise awareness and encourage Catholic officials to consider ordaining female priests.
The recent pink smoke over the Vatican is a symbolic gesture, alluding to historical tradition. Smoke is traditionally used to indicate when Roman Catholic cardinals have chosen a new pope. The smoke is released by the Vatican after each vote. If the results are inconclusive the released smoke is black. White smoke indicates that a new pope has been chosen by two-thirds of the cardinals.
As reported by Reuters, Pope Benedict XVI, who has resigned, reaffirmed the Catholic church’s position of excluding female priests last year. In response the Vatican has excommunicated female priests and bishops who failed to follow the traditional rules.
Currently, women may rise to the position of under-secretary in the Vatican, but only two women currently hold that title. The Roman Catholic church contends that women may not be ordained as priests as stated in the Bible. The protesters argue that by disallowing females as priests, the Catholic church may be deterring women who have been called to priesthood by God.
One cardinal, considered a likely candidate for Pope, has stated that the question of female priests is important, but is “secondary” to other issues facing the church. As reported by CBC, Cardinal Mark Ouellet further stated that such a significant change would take many years.
Although they admit that it may take time, the protesters have not given up hope. As they release pink smoke over the Vatican, one of the protesters states she is confident that the changes will be seen “during her lifetime.”