Pink smoke released over Vatican protesting lack of women priests

The release of black smoke, and not white smoke, from The Vatican chimney signified that a new pope had not been named. But what was the meaning of the less visible and less discussed pink smoke released over The Vatican? It was a protest against The Vatican’s refusal to ordain women priests.

Erin Saiz Hanna, the director of the Women’s Ordination Conference, which staged the protest and has been advocating for the ordination of women for three decades, stated,

“The current old boys’ club has left our Church reeling from scandal, abuse, sexism and oppression…. The people of the Church are desperate for a leader who will be open to dialogue and embrace the gifts of women’s wisdom in every level of Church governance.”

Miriam Duignan, Communications coordinator of the association ‘Women can be priests’ said,

“The Catholic church should be a healthy and vibrant place with equality, with both men and women called to the priesthood. Jesus did not exclude women. Jesus encouraged women and actively sought to include them…. So why do the cardinals who are supposed to represent Jesus, make a point of actively excluding women, of telling them to be quiet? And of criminalising anybody that speaks out in favour of women priests?”

Therese Koturbash, the international ambassador of the organization Women Priests explained, “[t]he pink smoke is a sign of the voices we’re mourning who are excluded from the current conclave.” Despite the Church’s intransigence and Pope Benedict’s crack down on the ordination of women, Koturbash is hopeful: “Already there have been so many changes that have happened in the church, that it wouldn’t be a big step to start including women.”

Not to be a downer, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. A potential pope, the Canadian cardinal Marc Ouellet, said that the issue of women in The Church is “secondary.” Good to know.


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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