Open the Conclave: Sending up Pink Smoke for Women in the Catholic Church!

A prayer service for the nationwide "Pink Smoke" actions that took place Monday, April 18, 2005, which called attention to the lack of women’s voices in church decision-making, especially during the "election" of Pope Benedict XVI.  


Reader #1: “A Vatican II document tells us, “At all times the Church carries the responsibility of reading the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel, if it is to carry out its task.” The long pontificate of John Paul II has spanned changing times, and a changing church. The stresses and challenges of the church of 1978 are in many ways very different from those of 2005. As we gather together now we look to the future of the church with renewed courage, joy, and hope.

Reader #2: Today in Rome, the College of Cardinals begins the conclave to elect the new pope. After each vote, they will send up black smoke if they fail to choose a new pope. Once the new pope is chosen they will send up white smoke and introduce him with the words “Habemus papam" — "We have a pope."

Today, the women of the church send up pink smoke to protest the lack of women’s voices at the conclave and to protest the ban of women from all leadership and decision making positions in the church.

So, today we say “ Sumus Ecclesia” — “We are the church”

Respond: Sumus Ecclesia — We are the church!

Opening Prayer:

Jesus, scripture teaches us: “There is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.” All are one in your image.

Let us live this message in our lives, in our communities, and especially in our churches.

Let us use our voice to speak truth about justice and equality.

Let us celebrate the gifts of all God’s people.

Give us hope for the future of our renewed church.



Reader #1: Pope John Paul II wrote, “Each and every human person has been created in the ‘image and likeness’ of the One who is the origin of all that is. We have within us the capacities for wisdom and virtue. With these gifts, and with the help of God’s grace, we can build in the next century and the next millennium a civilization worthy of the human person, a true culture of freedom. We can and must do so! And in doing so, we shall see that the tears of this century have prepared the ground for a new springtime of the human spirit.” (JPII’s Address to the U.N. General Assembly, 1995)

Reader #2: There is a painful inconsistency between what John Paul II taught and how he acted regarding women. We pray that the new pope that will truly honor the wisdom and virtue of all God’s people. And, we pray that the new pope that will fulfill God’s will for a “true culture of freedom.”

Respond:“ Sumus Ecclesia” We are the church!


Prayers of the Faithful:

After each intersession we will release our “Pink Smoke” and respond

Sumus Ecclesia” We are the church!

Let us pray that the global church may move courageously and wisely into the future; a future where all are welcome, a future where justice prevails, and a future in which the voices of all may be heard.

Respond:“ Sumus Ecclesia” We are the church!

Let us pray that the church of the future affirms the native cultures of all peoples, and listens for the wisdom they speak. Let us pray for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Christians, that they know that they can come home to the church of Christ which embraces them with love and understanding.


Respond:“ Sumus Ecclesia” We are the church!

Let us pray that the church of the future continues to honestly acknowledge the sins of the past, to reach out to heal wounds, and to speak a word of blessing to those in pain.

Respond:“ Sumus Ecclesia” We are the church!

Let us pray that the church of the future affirms the full human personhood of women, that misogyny becomes a thing of the past, and that women be admitted to all ministries to which they may be called.

Respond:“ Sumus Ecclesia” We are the church!

Closing Song

(Options for closing songs come from RitualSong, A Hymnal and Service Book for Roman Catholics)

City of God (RS 799)

Here I Am (RS 802)

We Are Called (RS 820)

We Are Marching (RS 648)

Joyful, Joyful We Adore You (RS 669)

O Healing River (RS 715)


Portions of this prayer service were adapted from “The Liturgy for the Passing of John Paul II” written by Susan Roll for the Women’s Ordination Conference.

Founded in 1975, the Women’s Ordination Conference works for women’s equality in all dimensions of life and ministry in the Catholic Church including women’s ordination to an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic Church.

To receive this Liturgy in a Word document, email [email protected].