Seven women were taken into custody after calling for more female roles in the church while 197 cardinals gathered behind closed doors at the Vatican.
The women stood outside the gates of the Vatican wearing cardinal red. Each carried a scarlet parasol with a phrase about women’s empowerment.
“Reform Means Women.” “Ordain Women.” “It’s Reigning Men.”
They came there to greet the 197 cardinals who arrived on August 29 for a discussion with the pope and to speak out against the absence of women from that discussion.
Religion News Service reports:
“As the men in red filed past, the women in red handed them pamphlets and urged them ‘to remember your sisters who remain outside.’
About 15 minutes later, the delegation of seven women from Women’s Ordination Worldwide was approached by the police and later taken to a nearby police station, where they were held for three hours.
‘It shows how dangerous women can be considered outside the Vatican,’ Kate McElwee, one of the women arrested and the director of Women’s Ordination Conference, said.”
The cardinals gathered to take part in a closed-door meeting with Pope Francis to discuss the changes he made to his apostolic constitution, “Preadicate Evangelium” (Preach the Gospel), in March. The changes allow laypeople, including women, to occupy Vatican leadership roles traditionally reserved for the clergy.
“Pope Francis has stated that female ordination is ‘off the table.’ He created two commissions to study the possibility of opening the diaconate to women, which would allow them to preside over some services but not to administer Mass or perform sacraments.
Francis has pushed for greater female participation in the church by appointing women to a number of influential Vatican leadership roles, including the first female undersecretary of the Vatican department overseeing the summit of bishops.”
As soon as journalists started interviewing the group and taking photos of each cardinal with the parasols in the background, a police car approached the women, according to Miriam Duignan, spokesperson for Women’s Ordination Worldwide and the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.
“Duignan, who was carrying a parasol reading ‘Sexism is a Cardinal Sin,’ said she was asked to leave. The police officers began moving the seven women toward St. Peter’s colonnade. They placed a barricade around them using wooden panels.
The women were kept there for one hour, where they were clearly visible by the cardinals entering the Vatican. ‘You can’t ignore seven women dressed in red, penned in and surrounded by 20 police officers.’ One cardinal walked up and acknowledged what was happening but did not say anything to the police, she said, adding that the others simply walked by.”
The seven women were released pending charges as the cardinals headed for lunch after finishing their morning discussion.
“‘It’s 197 men talking about the future of the church, never mentioning women. Then seven women — completely harmless, carrying delicate little paper parasols — are so threatening to them that they had to wrongfully imprison us, humiliate us, and try to intimidate us to never do it again,’ Duignan said.
‘The reality is that we are a threat to the status quo,’ McElwee said.”
Read the full article here.