In keeping with current events, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you know that the search for the new Pope is on (and as I’m writing this blog, I’m hearing news that there is a new Pope). The Vatican has a very simple procedure to let the masses of people waiting outside know what’s happening inside – white smoke means a new Pope has been chosen, black smoke means a decision hasn’t been reached. However, on Tuesday, a different color smoke could be seen from near the Vatican, and it was pink.
The pink smoke was to protest the Catholic church’s regulation that no women are allowed to be Priests or considered to be the next Pope, according to Reuters. Women were protesting during the “men-only conclave” and wore pink robes to show support for fellow females. Erin Saiz Hanna, director of the Women’s Ordination Conference said, “The current old boys’ club has left our Church reeling from scandal, abuse, sexism and oppression”.
According to this same article, the Vatican says that women cannot be priests or hold other places of power because “Jesus Christ willingly chose only men as his apostles”. Now, I’m not religious and I will be the first to admit that I am not familiar with all the rules that are involved with the Catholic religion, but I will say that it is interesting that in 2013, women are still not allowed to hold positions of power in a religious institution as large as Catholicism.
The Vatican has reported that there are close to 1.2 billion Roman Catholics across the world, and it’s so bizarre to me that we’re shutting out a big chunk of that voice – women – in international religious conversations. A great example is a recent political issue that has been taking the United States by storm: the contraception issue. While it’s true there has been some controversy over this issue as it is multi-faceted and takes into account religious points of view as well as women’s issues, Catholic women have been chosen as the exception to the argument that religious women aren’t supposed to use birth control.
House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in February of 2012, “98 percent of Catholic women, I am told by all of you, use birth control to determine the size and timing of their families.” This comment has been proven to be very controversial, according to this article in the Washington Post, because it’s come out now that something like only 68% of Catholic women admitted to using “very effective methods” for birth control. Whatever the statistic is, it’s true that many Catholic women felt pressure from both sides to comment on this issue, and that brings us back to their presence in the Catholic Church.
While the majority of the world is Catholic, we’re still treating Catholic women as second-class citizens. They are not given a voice in basic conversations in politics in religion, not even when these conversations will directly affect their lives, their bodies, and their ability to make decisions. They are not given positions of power in the very religion that they give so much of their lives to.
In 2013, women shouldn’t be relying on large committees of men to make decisions that will affect our lives, no matter what their religion is.