Home » Report on the handing in of the petition to Pope Benedict XVI calling for the restoration of women’s ordination to the diaconate

Report on the handing in of the petition to Pope Benedict XVI calling for the restoration of women’s ordination to the diaconate

On the feast of St. Theresa of Avila 15th October 2008 and during the Synod of Bishops on the Bible, a group of women from Britain, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and the United States of America, came together to hand in the petition calling for the restoration of women’s ordination to the diaconate.

Press Conference

They held a press conference which attracted journalists from around the world. The Associated Press sent a TV camera and photo and print journalists. Their report went to over 100 news outlets. The Catholic News Service also attended and published their own article. Even John Allen from the National Catholic Reporter attended and even reported a quote from Aisah Taylor, Executive Director of Women’s Ordination Conference, in his report on the Synod.

Speakers at the News Conference Some of the press at the News Conference


When the press conference had finished, the group of women wearing special purple T shirts saying “ordain women” in nine languages and with a banner stating “Ordain Catholic Women”, walked up to Vatican City. Some of the women were dressed as deacons from the early Church. They held a brief prayer service outside St. Peter’s Square. For the prayer service they had a reading of a prayer by St. Theresa in German and English. They gave out flyers that outlined the seven reasons why women should be ordained. These leaflets were in six languages. They spent two hours inside St. Peter’s Square giving out leaflets and it seemed that they had an overwhelming positive response from the people, including some male priests.

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A time of prayer together With the banner in front of St. Peter’s
and some dressed as deacons from the past.

Handing in the petition

The group returned to St. Peters Square with the intention of handing in the petition to a Swiss Guard. They were prevented from doing this by the Italian police. About thirteen policemen gathered round them and demanded to see the passports of the eleven members of the group. They also took the material that they were handing out. Eventually they called for the head of the Vatican police. According to a member of the Italian police, this was the first time in fifteen years that the chief had been called to question any demonstraters. The Vatican Chief of Police would not allow them to deliver the petition to the Portone di Bronzo, but said he would deliver it to the Pope himself.

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A policeman intervenes Some of the policemen


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The petition that was handed in With permission from the Tablet

The Future

Although we stopped taking signatures for a while, in principle we kept the petition open until we were to receive a reply from Pope Benedict XVI. No response was ever received. So, with renewed interest in many parts of the world, we have re-opened the petition for signing under Pope Francis. We invite more people to add their signatures to the petition to show their support for the ordination of women to the diaconate.

To see the text of our Petition, click here

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