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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  • Skylark

    I saw this excellent documentary about the fight for women’s ordination a couple years ago. The details are a little foggy in my brain now, but it follows the story of a few women who ordain themselves as priests and try to serve the Catholic church. It’s called “Pink Smoke Over The Vatican.” I found their website if anyone is interested.

  • smash


  • honeybee

    I think it’s an unwinnable fight. Those folks should move on and join other religions or become agnostic. I don’t support what the church is doing – but then I don’t support the church at all and this is only one reason.

    The Catholic church can’t really back down on this just as they can’t back down on homosexuality and other issues. It’s why the long-term prospects for Catholicism are very dim because they can’t just “evolve”. Think of all the true believers who would never accept such changes. People who have spent their entire lives advocating against gays or female priests – think how they’d react if they made these changes?

    The Catholic church is ultimately doomed b/c of issues like this. They are damned either way. Make the change and alienate alot of true believers, don’t make the change and alienate alot of others.

    Perhaps in several hundred years it may happen but not in our lifetimes.

    • Christine Rose

      While it may be a long time until things are changed, they shouldn’t just give up. Think of everything else in life that was slow coming, and then think about how it’d be like if the people who fought for that change just ‘gave up’. The world would be a much sadder place, indeed.

      Their fight is a long one, but I hope they continue fighting for what they believe in.

  • Christine

    While their refusal to ordain women infuriates me, I think it’s highly unlikely that it will change…well ever. The Church is completely resistant change and has been for a very long time. Look at the Reformation, the Reformers wanted to change the Church, but they only ended up creating an entirely new Church. Though many other branches of Christianity have acclimated to the present, the Catholic Church still remains resolutely in the past, and it seems that it will remain there until it stops looking to the past to create doctrines for the present.

  • honeybee

    Apparently the new Pope has come out very openly in the past as being against female priests, against homosexuality, etc. He is considered quite “conservative” in the sense that he is seen as very unlikely to make any radical changes in the church.

    Expect business as usual.