saint peter s square
Photo by Valentin Onu on

"Ordain women priests!" Not far from the Vatican, where hundreds of Catholics have gathered to debate the future of the Church, purple-clad activists make their voices heard against the "patriarchy."

The place of women in the Catholic Church — led for 2,000 years by a man, which outlaws abortion and female priests and does not recognize divorce — is one of the hot topics at the general assembly of the Synod of Bishops taking place over four weeks.

Women campaigning for change have come to Rome to make their case, from Europe and the United States but also South Africa, Australia, Colombia and India.

They have different backgrounds and diverse goals — not all want female priests, with some aiming first for women to become deacons, who can celebrate baptisms, marriages and funerals, although not masses.

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