Saturday, October 29, 2011
Roman Catholic Woman Priest Ree Hudson tells "Herstory"- Historic Pilgrimage to Rome With Roy Bourgeois, Prophet for Justice for Women's Ordination
Erin Hanna, Donna Rougeux, Ree Hudson, Roy Bourgeois, Janice
It is with great pleasure that I write to you tonight. My experience in Rome this year of 2011 was absolutely great. We accomplished all that we set out to do, and more. As many of you know I went the first year in 2008. It was a good beginning. There were 10 of us then. I did not go in 2010. The third year was a charm. I feel tremendously encouraged about our movement. I feel we are moving forward. I could feel the Holy Spirit moving us along while in Rome and this time there were 16 of us...women, men, young people, womenpriests, and male priest. United in purpose, in solidarity and love.
All of you were with us too. When I arrived I had to wait for Janice, Dorothy and Donna so I played my drum for about an hour, calling upon Creator/Spirit to be with us and to surround us with serenity and God's patient love. We all felt that special quiet peace within when we met together that evening.
On Monday we went to the Gravina hotel to view "Pink Smoke over the Vatican" with anybody who decided to attend. Following the showing of the movie we had a press conference. Several people spoke proclaiming support for womenpriests, and the fallacies of the hierarchal churches attitude toward women. Following brief questions from the media, they followed us as we began our march to Vatican square. Janice, Donna, and I were dressed in albs and stoles. We were holding on to signs, singing and chanting. The greatest chant ,as we neared the gaited vatican, blocking us from entering the square was: WHAT DO WE WANT? WOMENPRIESTS . WHEN? NOW!
When we arrived at Vatican square the police stopped us, some of them smiling at Erin (WOC) executive director, saying ,"Back again.?" Then the incessant conversation began. We were told we could not gop in the sqare because we had no permit. We told them we had applied but didn't get anywhere., whereupon we were asked who we talked to. This was a laughable question as who knew? They began taking passports. This brings up my first personal point: Both times I went to Rome I was not asked for my passport. We had signs, professionally made. I was on the end in the middle of the road carrying the purple sign that said Ordain Woman. Roy had a beautiful white and red sign with the same words in English and Italian.
The police just glared at 71 year old me in Alb and stole, grimmaced, and said nothing. They looked at Roy obviously dressed in the outfit of a cleric. They addressed him as Papa, turned to Erin and resumed talking. Our other friends stood back as witnesses to the whole event. We kept insisting that they let us on the square. The police leader called headquarters to talk to their superiors. After the discussion the policeman said, "No signs." We asked why as we saw signs everywhere in Rome. THe answer was, "They have permits and you are inciting to riot."
"You there (speaking to the three of us in albs), absolutely cannot go into the square because you are directly challenging the law by being dressed the way you are." "Allelia, I'm a priest challenging the law, I yelled, and guess what these albs won't go away and neither will I, whereupon I yelled, 'WHAT DO WE WANT? WOMEN PRIESTS," yelled the group. "WHEN," said I;" NOW," said the group.
Personal point number 2.....We must wear our Albs and Stoles without apology because they are a testament to our priesthood and a rich, wonderful sign of who we are. Wearing them makes the church heirarchy uncomfortable which means they cannot help but recognize that we are priests serving God and God's holy people. The police suggested that Roy go in to speak to the people by himself since he is a priest. This, of course was suggesting that we weren"t. Roy said, "No,a womanpriest would have to come with him." My heart jumped at his open display of support.
This is point three: Open support. Silence kills. We began moving closer to the gates. Janice and I were right by Roy when all of a sudden a young man, dresed like an ordinary Italian citizen. He pushed toward Roy to take his sign. Roy resisted, and told them the sign was expensive and he wanted to keep it. The man pushed again and another policeman, to his right, pressed on his arm using a pressure point. WIth the look he gave me, I stepped back. The police took both signs and refused to give them back even though we had followed their directions.
With this incident the whole group began to heat up and things looked like they could get nasty. During the entire affair a wonderful young woman, was speaking Italian and interpreting everything that was said. At the beginning everything was peaceful and courteous, but with the sign incident it began to get more serious. Soon a police car was brought forth and Erin and Miriam (Interpreter) were arrested. Roy was forced back and stood beside me. We watched them wisk the two young women away, blue lights spinning and sirens blasting. At that point we thought they were not going to arrest Roy and were standing there considering our next move., when all of a sudden two of them came, out their hands on Roy, put him in a police car, and sped away wih him.After the women and Roy were taken away Janice said we've got to do something to get arrested. She and Donna decided to try to cross the fence and go to the bathroom. They were stopped, had their passports taken , and were brought back to where I was standing and watching. Within a few minutes they brought back their passports.
Again, as in 2008 they did not ask for my passport. I believe the shock of seeing a 71 year old woman (although I am not sure they were conscious of my age) , standing there in her alb was more than they could fathom. From this were two important facts:
One: They were not going to let us set foot on the vatican square with those albs on; Two: THey were not going to arrest us because it would acknowledge our priesthood. At this point, Bill Quigley, lawyer for Roy and Janice, and a professor at my alma mateur, Loyola of New Orleans, Came forth and said, "Ree, should we go get them out? I replied that we should do our best. So walking all over Rome we all found the police station. They were sitting inside waiting and we waited outside at an outdoor sidewalk cafe. Aftr a couple of hours they emerged from this station.
The man who shoved Roy came out on the street to smoke with another man. I pointed him out to Janice. I looked around and Janice was talking to him. She was right in his face like a mother talking to her naughty son. "You did something very bad, she said. 'You hd no right to push that priest. He didn't do a thing to you, and you did not have a right to take the banner."" I was laughing my head off. That little bitty red-haired woman, in her alb, right in this policeman's face, who did not understand a word she was saying to him, until the man who was with him explained. He looked very embarassed, and seemed not to know what to do. Janice just kept on and I stood as close as I could get.
Finally he went back into the police station and we went up the street to the restaurant to remove our albs. Again I reiterate that the one thing I know from this incident is that when one puts the alb on, a statement is made about our priesthood, and how important it is , especially to those whom we are challenging. I will always wear my alb. I will be buried in it.
This day, October16, 2011 was a marvelous success. Publicity went everywhere....all over the world. I felt really good about being with these wonderful, committed people, standing up for what they believe in, and continuuing to be a voice for those who are not heard. I am so grateful to my God for calling me, and sending the Holy Spirit to prompt me to do what is necessary to be a voice for God and God's holy people. I will keep persisting, along with these other wonderful people, and all of you, until the hierarchal church changes its mind and treats all humans with dignity and respect. I am not angry, just persistent, and convinced that God wants all people to act upon the gifts and callings they have received. Charge onward dear sisters!
Ree Hudson, RCWP