Excommunicated female priest Janice Sevre-Duszynska was reportedly detained by Italian police on Thursday for protesting at the Vatican.
Sevre-Duszynska, an American, had been demonstrating in view of St. Peter's Basilica in an attempt to draw attention to the Catholic Church's policy on the ordination of women.
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Excommunicated female priest Janice Sevre-Duszynska unfurling a red-and-white banner, which reads, "Women Priests are Here." Sevre-Duszynska said she had come to draw attention to the lack of a voice for women as cardinals gather at the Vatican to choose Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's successor in Rome on March 7. (Image credit: AFP/Tiziana Fibi/Getty Images)
"As the cardinals meet for their conclave to elect the new pope, women are being ordained around the world," Sevre-Duszynska, who was ordained in 2008, told a reporter from the Agence France-Press.
"There are already 150 female priests in the world. The people are ready for change," she added.
Read the AFP report (here) for the full story.
All female priests (and all priests involved in the ordination of women) were excommunicated from the Catholic Church by the Vatican in 2008. Since then, Sevre-Duszynska and a number of other vocal advocates have been working to change the tides in favor of women priests.
A few years ago, a film on gender discrimination in the Catholic Church provoked discussions in the media about the role of women in the Church. Produced and directed by Eyegoddess Films founder Jules Hart and titled "Pink Smoke Over the Vatican," the documentary aimed to tell "the stories of the determined women and men who, through the forbidden and illicit path of female ordination, are working to end the underlying misogyny and outdated feudal governance that is slowly destroying the Roman Catholic Church," according to the film's website.
“I am a seasoned daughter and believer in the Catholic faith,” Sevre-Duszynska said in March 2012 at a screening of the film at Marquette University in Wisconsin. “We are being supported, and we would love to see more male bishops in this country support ordination of women and come forward. Many of them would do so and privately believe so but are scared to lose their jobs.”
Indeed, there has been significant backlash in recent years against female priests and their supporters.
In November 2012, for instance, Father Roy Bourgeois, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee involved in Sevre-Duszynska's ordination, was dismissed from religious orders by the Vatican after almost half a century of service.
That same month, an Austrian priest named Rev. Helmut Schueller was barred by the Vatican from using the title "monsignor" after he advocated for female and married priests.
In December 2012, 92-year-old Jesuit priest named Rev. Bill Brennan was stripped of his duties after he celebrated mass with Sevre-Duszynska.
"It was a hope in the back of my heart that these men would walk in solidarity with Bill, stand up for justice and … make it a new world, make it a new day in our church, as Bill has done," Sevre-Duszynska said at the time. "It’s time for the rest of the male priests to find the courage to listen to the workings of the Holy Spirit in their heart and conscience."