Women Priest Protesters Arrested During Pope Visit

A handful of women dressed in traditional priest stoles and albs were arrested after they staged civil disobedience during Pope Francis' visit in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. 

They held signs that read: "Women priests are here."

The women are calling on the pope and the entire Catholic community to shake up policies of the past, saying it is time to allow women to be priests.

"Women are all parts of life," Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests told NBC Owned Television Stations. "Including at the altar."

Meehan said several women and some men were arrested outside the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle where Pope Francis was holding a prayer service and addressing American bishops. 

In the past, Pope Francis has said that while he "readily acknowledges" that women are an important part of the church, he adds that "the reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion," he wrote.

Meehan said they were protesting because they love the church. She knows the pope is such a "good person" and he speaks about helping the poor, but the poor, she says, include women.  

"(The pope) talks about economic equality but we want to show him gender equality," Meehan said. 

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) prepare and ordain qualified women to serve God as priests and bishops, despite being considered excommunicated by the Vatican. ARCWP works to embrace an inclusive Catholic church that includes men, women, and members of the LGBT community. The members of the association believe "God's image" created men and women equally.

"We are healing centuries of misogyny," ARCWP's website reads. "The Vatican cannot continue to discriminate against women and blame God for it." 

On Thursday, in addition to the ARCWP's first woman bishop, Meehan, the group will ordain three more women as bishops in Philadelphia. 

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