Catholics campaigning for women priests detained at Vatican

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A group of Roman Catholic activists who think women should be ordained priests tried to deliver a petition to the Vatican on Monday but were blocked from entering St Peter’s Square and some were detailed by police. Witnesses said plainclothes Italian police stopped the group of about 15 demonstrators, including several women dressed in priest’s robes, and confiscated a banner reading “God is calling women to be priests.”

The group, headed by an American Roman Catholic priest from Georgia, Father Roy Bourgeois, wanted to leave a petition signed by some 15,000 people at a Vatican entrance. “The scandal of demanding silence on the issue of women’s ordination reflects the absolute arrogance of the (Roman Catholic Church) hierarchy and their tragic failure to accept women as equals in dignity and discipleship in the eyes of God,” said Erin Hanna, executive director of the U.S-based Women’s Ordination Conference.

In a separate, open letter to Vatican officials, Bourgeois said: “If the call to be a priest is a gift and comes from God, how can we, as men, say that our call from God is authentic, but God’s call of women is not?”

Bourgeois and Hanna were placed in police cars at the entrance of St Peter’s Square and taken to a police station near the Vatican.

The Vatican says women cannot be ordained priests because Jesus Christ willingly chose only men as his apostles. Advocates of a female priesthood reject this position, saying Jesus was merely conforming to the social customs of his times.

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