Pink shoes protests about women in Church

Shoes are placed on a fence in Wellington

by NZ CATHOLIC staff 

Installations made up of hundreds of women’s shoes lined the routes to the Catholic cathedrals in Auckland and Wellington on September 18, which was Suffrage Day. 

This was organised by the group “Be The Change”. The creation of the installations had been postponed from last year because of Covid restrictions. 

Shoes leading from Parliament

In Wellington, the women gathered outside the temporarily closed Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, and there were karakia, waiata and speeches. In the capital, a trail of shoes in walking pattern was created from the steps of Parliament. 

Some of the shoes had messages telling of women’s experience with the Church. Among them were “Hoping for a truly inclusive Church which values the gifts of all”, from “Ann”, and an “Adriana”, who wrote of her search for a path in the Church that would enliven her sense of vocation. “But the paths I travelled were mostly dead ends leading nowhere, or overgrown and full of obstacles. Come Holy Spirit and renew your Church!” “Adriana” stated.  

In Auckland, there was a hikoi from the Women’s Suffrage Memorial to St Patrick’s Cathedral. 

Auckland Bishop Stephen Lowe wrote to Be the Change, thanking them for their “prophetic hikoi”.  

“Your voice today echoes the voice of women throughout the world who, as part of the current synodal process, are calling on the Church to reflect the inherent dignity of women in the leadership of the Church,” Bishop Lowe wrote in a letter given to Be The Change representatives at the cathedral. 

Referring to a pair of shoes from the Pink Shoes collection gifted to him by Be the Change, he reportedly said that they reminded him that “I too need to change. Together may we be docile to the movement of the Holy Spirit who is active in all the people of God, as She invites the Church ever more forth on the way to the Kingdom of God”. 

Bishop Lowe noted in his letter that the Twelve did not believe Mary Magdalene when she announced the Resurrection to them.  

“Perhaps this is a poignant reminder that [the] Twelve and their successors can get it very wrong,” he wrote. 

Bishop Lowe wrote that the hikoi was “ultimately a call to respect the dignity that flows from our being created male and female in the image and likeness of God”. 

“While there have and continue to be, a litany of amazing women throughout the history of the Church, your presence and voice today is a reminder that you are the Church, and the Church needs to change so your voice and presence may be more clearly heard and seen.” 

Copies of the letter were given to Massgoers outside the cathedral in Auckland, but permission was reportedly not given on the day to read it to the congregation. Several parishes in Auckland advertised the event in newsletters, but reportedly parishes in Wellington archdiocese were not permitted to do so.   

The Wellington group finished their event by reflecting on the support for the leadership of women, which came through in the submissions to Pope Francis’ 2023 synod.  


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NZ Catholic Staff

Reader Interactions


  1. Rose says

    “Together may we be docile to the movement of the Holy Spirit who is active in all the people of God, as She invites the Church ever more forth on the way to the Kingdom of God” – is this a mistype? I don’t understand why the bishop referred to the Holy Spirit as a “She”.
    “the Church needs to change” – it also might have been useful to make a distinction here between the divine Church and the human Church, as some Catholics may think this means change to divinely-revealed doctrine rather than change to our treatment of others.

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