Black smoke rose over the Vatican this morning.. a signal that the cardinals' conclave in Rome has not yet chosen a new pope.
The new pontiff will replace retiring Pope Benedict the 16th, and lead 1.2 billion Catholics around the world.
He’ll also face deep divisions within the church and a scandal-plagued Vatican hierarchy.
But as the conclave began to meet, an excommunicated female priest wearing liturgical robes was detained by Italian police this week. Her crime.. calling on the Church to ordain women.
As the world waits for either white or black smoke to rise in Rome, female Catholic priests around the globe are sending up pink smoke this week to broadcast a call for change.
One of them is Bridget Mary Meehan, Bishop with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Meehan sent up pink smoke in a special Tuesday mass in Sarasota, Florida.
And she and other female priests- all excommunicated by the Church hierarchy- are demanding a voice in the selection of the new pope and full equality with male priests.
"Young people are leaving the Church in droves because they refuse to accept women priests, or allow priests to marry," says Meehan. "The people are ready for change!"
Meehan says she believes the Church's all-male hierarchy has contributed to its ongoing sex abuse scandals and alleged financial mismanagement and corruption at the highest levels of the Vatican.
"We need a holy shakeup," she says.
Learn more about the movement at www.pinksmokeoverthevatican.com.