MARCH 28/29, 2013
Quo Vadis, Papa Francisco?
01- WILL POPE FRANCIS WASH THE FFET OF WOMEN AT HOLY MASS THIS WEEK?
Pontiff Desires Simple Mass for Holy Thursday
Pope Francis to Celebrate Mass of the Lords Supper at Local Juvenile Detention Center
According to the Holy See Press Office director, Fr. Federico Lombardi, Pope Francis has expressed his desire that the Mass of the Lord’s Supper be very simple.
The Holy Father will celebrate the Mass in the chapel of the Casal del Marmo Penitential Institute for Minors (IPM). Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, and Fr. Gaetano Greco, chaplain of the Institute.
Of the 10 girls and 40 boys expected to attend, the Holy Father will wash the feet of 12, who will be chosen from different nationalities and diverse religious confessions. The youth will also participate in the mass by proclaiming the readings and the prayer of the faithful.
The youth as well as the IPM’s personnel will meet with Pope Francis after the Mass at the Institute’s gymnasium. Also expected to attend will be Paola Severino, the Minister of Justice, Caterina Chinnici, head of the Department of Justice for Minor’s, Saulo Patrizi, Commander of the Institute’s Penitentiary Police, and Liana Giambartolomei, director of the Institute.
The youth will give Pope Francis a wooden crucifix as well as a kneeler that they made in the Institute’s workshop. According to the communiqué released by the Holy See Press Office, the Holy Father will bring Easter eggs and “colomba”, a traditional Italian Easter cake in the shape of dove, for all present.
Due to the intimate nature of the Holy Father’s visit, the Holy See stated that journalists will be restricted to the outside area of the Institute, as well as no live coverage of the Mass.
Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 7:04 PM Subject: VISnews130326
POPE FRANCIS WANTS “IN COENA DOMINI” MASS TO BE SIMPLE AND INTIMATE
Vatican City, 26 March 2013 (VIS) – The Mass of the Lord’s Supper that Pope Francis will celebrate on Holy Thursday in the chapel of the Casal del Marmo Penitential Institute for Minors (IPM) will be, by his express desire, very simple, as reported by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. Concelebrating with the Holy Father will be Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, and Fr. Gaetano Greco, chaplain of the Institute.
Around 10 girls and 40 boys will take part in the Mass. The Pope will wash the feet of 12 of them, who will be chosen from different nationalities and diverse religious confessions. The youth will also say the readings and the prayers of the faithful.
After the Mass, the Pope will meet with the youth and the IPM’s personnel in the Institute’s gym. Around 150 persons are expected to attend, including the Minister for Justice, Paola Severino, accompanied by the Head of the Department of Justice for Minors, Caterina Chinnici, the Commander of the Institute’s Penitentiary Police, Saulo Patrizi, and the Institute’s director, Liana Giambartolomei.
The youth will give the Pope a wooden crucifix and kneeler, which they made themselves in the Institute’s workshop. The Holy Father will bring Easter eggs and “colomba” (the traditional Italian Easter cake in the shape of a dove) for all.
Given the intimate nature of the pastoral visit, journalists will be restricted to the area outside the building and no live coverage will be transmitted.
OUR LETTERS TO POPE FRANCIS AND TO SOME VATICAN DEPARTMENTS
Sent: Monday, March 25, 2013 5:49 AM
Subject: YOUR HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS, PLEASE DO NOT WASH THE FEET OF WOMEN THIS MAUNDY THURSDAY…
His Holiness Pope Francis,
Vatican City, Rome
March 25, 2013
SUBJECT: WASHING THE FEET OF WOMEN AT HOLY MASS ON MAUNDY THURSDAY
We understand from news reports that You intend to wash the feet of six men and SIX WOMEN at Holy Mass on March 28, 2013, Maundy Thursday.
We pray that there is no truth in that information.
In case there is any truth in that information, we request You to please refrain from doing that and only wash the feet of twelve men.
If You wash the feet of women during the liturgy, it will send a wrong signal to many and give an impetus to some enemies of the Catholic Church.
We have nothing against Your washing the feet of women on Holy Thursday if it is done outside of Holy Mass, in a non-liturgical service.
We understand that the rubrics of the liturgy permit only the feet of ”viri” (men) to be washed by a priest; so we humbly suggest — in the event that You really do want to have the feet of women washed – that You change the presently-existing rubrics to include women before their feet are washed by You.
Catholic apologist, INDIA
Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 2:32 PM
Subject: ASUNTO: LAVADO DE LOS PIES DE MUJERES EN LA SANTA MISA DE JUEVES SANTO
A la atención de:
Su Santidad el Papa Francisco
Ciudad del Vaticano, Roma
25 de marzo de 2013
ASUNTO: LAVADO DE LOS PIES DE MUJERES EN LA SANTA MISA DE JUEVES SANTO
Hemos podido saber a través de ciertos informes que tiene intención de lavar los pies de seis hombres y seis mujeres durante la Santa Misa del 28 de marzo de 2013, Jueves Santo.
Rogamos que no sea verdad esta información.
Pero en caso de que haya algún tipo de certeza en ella, le solicitamos que por favor se abstenga de hacerlo y sólo lave los pies de doce hombres.
Si Su Santidad lava pies de mujeres durante la liturgia se enviará una señal equivocada a mucha gente y dará impulso a las críticas de algunos enemigos de la Iglesia Católica.
No tenemos nada en contra de que lave los pies de las mujeres el Jueves Santo si se hace fuera de la Santa Misa, por ejemplo en un servicio no litúrgico.
Entendemos que las reglas de la liturgia sólo le permiten a un sacerdote lavar los pies a “viri” (hombres), por lo que humildemente sugerimos-en el caso de que realmente quiera lavar los pies a mujeres- que cambie la normativa actualmente existente para incluir a las mujeres en el lavado de pies hecho por Su Santidad.
Apologista católico, INDIA
[My email letters to Rome in English and Spanish were on this ministry's letterhead –Michael]
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Sent: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 8:04 PM
Subject: LAVADO DE LOS PIES DE MUJERES DURANTE LA MISA DE JUEVES SANTO
A Su Santidad el Papa Francisco
Ciudad del Vaticano, Roma
27 de marzo de 2013
LAVADO DE LOS PIES DE MUJERES DURANTE LA MISA DE JUEVES SANTO
Hemos sabido a través de noticiarios que Usted tiene la intención de lavar los pies de seis hombres y SEIS MUJERES durante la Misa de Jueves Santo del 28 de marzo de 2013.
Rezamos para que esa información esté equivocada.
Si es exacta, le pedimos que por favor no lo haga y lave unicamente los pies de 12 hombres.
Si lava los pies de mujeres durante la liturgia, enviará una señal equivodad a muchos y dará ímpetu a algunos enemigos de la Iglesia Católica.
No tenemos nada contrario a que Usted lave los pies de mujeres el Jueves Santo fuera de la Santa misa, en un servicio no litúrgico.
Entendemos que las reglas litúrgicas permiten unicamente que los pies de los “viri” (hombres) sean lavados por un sacerdote; por lo cual sugerimos humildemente – en el caso que Usted quiera efectivamente lavar los pies de mujeres – que se cambien las reglas litúrgicas para incluir a las mujeres antes del lavado de los pies.
Le saluda atentamente,
Apologista Católico, 601/602, Greenlands CHS, Opposite St Anthony’s Church, Malwani Village, Malwani, Malad (W), Mumbai, INDIA
A LETTER FROM A LATIN AMERICAN EUROPE-BASED APOLOGIST AND MY RESPONSE
Sent: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 2:46 PM Subject: Re: YOUR HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS, PLEASE DO NOT WASH THE FEET OF WOMEN THIS MAUNDY THURSDAY…
From what I understand, there is a huge issue in India about this matter, probably because of all the liturgical abuse that has been going on. From a European/Latin American point of view, where cases of liturgical abuse are rarer or less extreme, it seems as an exception to liturgy that can be granted by Bishops, in particular if it is the Bishop of Rome.
I think that for Westerners, you should explain why this matter is so important, because otherwise, the first reaction to your letter is very negative. Catholic communities of Europe and Latin America are very sensitive towards women’s responsibilities and place in the Church and in liturgy. In fact, this gesture of the Pope will probably be very positively viewed by Catholics from those regions.
Apologist Sent: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 3:36 PM Subject: Re: YOUR HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS, PLEASE DO NOT WASH THE FEET OF WOMEN THIS MAUNDY THURSDAY…
I am not going by sentiments but by the rubrics of the Maundy Thursday liturgy and by the findings of my research into the matter based on email questions that I received in the past. You can read my document at
WASHING THE FEET OF WOMEN ON HOLY THURSDAY
Recently some liberal theologians raised the issue and my correspondence with them is also in the above document. There are wider implications to this issue of washing the feet of women on Holy Thursday. Personally, I have no problems with it.
Also, one of my good Indian conservative friends in the US wrote me that he planned to join the SSPX if this happens tomorrow. I just managed to talk him out of it.
Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2013 1:55 PM Subject: Re: YOUR HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS, PLEASE DO NOT WASH THE FEET OF WOMEN THIS MAUNDY THURSDAY…
Indeed I suspected that it was a problem linked to liberal clergy who might use it as justification for the ordination of women. But it would in my eyes be – again – an unfair interpretation of a gesture that the Pope clearly intends otherwise.
I trust that the person in charge of the liturgy for the pontifical house will find a solution.
I agree with you, that it is better to respect the liturgical norms. What is happening, I believe, is that Pope Francis is not used to dealing with this type of problems, and therefore has a very candid and spontaneous approach, without realizing the implications it might have on other levels. He never lived outside of Argentina, and he might need time to understand this type of problems and decide how to deal with them. But I am quite sure that he doesn’t mean the gesture as a justification for the ordination of women. He is known in Argentina as very “conservative”, which is the word they use for people faithful to Catholic doctrine. Let’s pray and see what happens.
Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2013 2:56 PM Subject: Re: YOUR HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS, PLEASE DO NOT WASH THE FEET OF WOMEN THIS MAUNDY THURSDAY…
You understood… It will be very difficult for us in these ministries in future when liberals on the one hand keep shouting “But Pope Francis did this or that…” and the Traditionalists on the other hand have more ammunition to fire at us.
The joy of the liberals will be difficult to contain and will be difficult for us to tolerate. The latter we can continue to ignore.
Pope Francis is making our circle of apologists very anxious.
Pope Benedict’s convert Magdi Allam has left the Church; Pope Francis thinks nothing of distributing Holy Communion in the hand as against the preference of his predecessors, Cardinal Arinze, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and others for the tongue… and so on. The reverence for the liturgy and the dignity of the seat of St. Peter appear to have diminished in the name of humility and simplicity… Nothing wrong with that per se, but we as yet cannot estimate the impact that all of this will have in the long term — whether it will pan out for ‘good’ or for bad. We don’t want Catholics leaving the Church for these of all reasons, for God’s sake!
We face great uncertainty. If there is laxity at the very top in the liturgy and other critical areas, there will be a free-for-all at the diocesan and parish levels; and, the Society of Jesus, already rightly held responsible for the non-evangelization of Asia over the past few decades because of their “social gospel” will turn out to be the greatest beneficiaries of this situation. I wonder if the Pope is even aware that most conservative Catholics blame his Jesuit order [the exceptions are few and far between] for almost every liberal and modernist situation in the Asian church. I think it is high time that I write a report on this issue, as I have been preparing my documentation for it since a long, long time.
1. Pope washes feet of young Muslim woman prisoner in unprecedented twist on Maundy Thursday
Pope Francis continued his gleeful abandonment of tradition by washing the feet of a young Muslim woman prisoner in an unprecedented twist on the Holy Thursday tradition.
By Harriett Alexander, and agencies, March 28, 2013
While popes have for centuries washed the
feet of the faithful on the day before Good Friday, never before had a pontiff washed the feet of a woman. That one of the female inmates at the prison in Rome was also a Serbian Muslim was also a break with tradition. “There is no better way to show his service for the smallest, for the least fortunate,” said Gaetano Greco, a local chaplain.
washed the feet of 12 inmates aged 14 to 21, among them the two women, the second of whom was an Italian Catholic. Mr Greco said he hoped the ritual would be “a positive sign in their lives”.
Catholic traditionalists are likely to be riled by the inclusion of women in the ceremony because of the belief that all of Jesus’ disciples were male.
The pontiff, who has largely disregarded protocol since his election earlier this month, urged his fellow clerics before the ceremony to prioritise the poor.
“We need to go out to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters,” he said at a mass in St Peter’s Basilica.
“It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord.”
Francis, the first leader of the Catholic Church from Latin America, led a mass with a mixed group of young offenders at the Casal del Marmo prison outside of Rome.
The 76-year-old, who was archbishop of Buenos Aires until chosen as pope, has already made a name for himself as a champion of the disadvantaged. In his homeland of Argentina he was known for his strong social advocacy, working in slums and shunning the lavish lifestyle adopted by some senior clerics. He lived in a small flat near the cathedral, flew to the Rome conclave in economy class, and chose to travel with his fellow cardinals by minibus rather than in the papal limousine.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio – as Pope Francis was previously known – had already washed and kissed the feet of women in past ceremonies in Argentinean jails, hospitals and old people’s homes, including pregnant mothers and AIDS patients. […]
2. Pope includes women for first time in Holy Thursday rite
By Phillip Pullella, Rome, March 28, 2013
Two young women were among 12 people whose feet Pope Francis washed and kissed at a traditional ceremony in a Rome youth prison on Holy Thursday, the first time a pontiff has included females in the rite.
The pope traveled to the Casal del Marmo prison on Rome’s outskirts for the traditional Mass, which commemorates Jesus’ gesture of humility towards his apostles the night before he died.
The ceremony has been traditionally limited to men because all of Jesus’ apostles were male. The Vatican spokesman said two of the 12 whose feet were washed were Muslim inmates.
While the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio included women in the rite when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, it was the first time women had taken part in a papal Holy Thursday ceremony. […]
3. Pope Francis washes feet of young detainees in ritual
By Nicole Winfield, March 28, 2013
ROME (AP) — Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of a dozen inmates at a juvenile detention center in a Holy Thursday ritual that he celebrated for years as archbishop and is continuing now that he is pope. Two of the 12 were young women, a remarkable choice given that the rite re-enacts Jesus’ washing of the feet of his male disciples.
The Mass was held in the Casal del Marmo facility in Rome, where 46 young men and women currently are detained. Many of them are Gypsies or North African migrants, and the 12 selected for the foot-washing rite included Orthodox and Muslim detainees as well, news reports said.
Because the inmates were mostly minors — the facility houses inmates aged 14-to-21 — the Vatican and Italian Justice Ministry limited media access inside. But Vatican Radio carried the Mass live, and Francis told the detainees that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion in a gesture of love and service.
“This is a symbol, it is a sign — washing your feet means I am at your service,” Francis told the youngsters. “Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service.”
Later, the Vatican released a limited video of the ritual, showing Francis washing black feet, white feet, male feet, female feet and even a foot with tattoos. Kneeling on the stone floor as the 12 youngsters sat above him, the 76-year-old Francis poured water from a silver chalice over each foot, dried it with a simple cotton towel and then bent over to kiss each one.
As archbishop of Buenos Aires, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio would celebrate the ritual foot-washing in jails, hospitals or hospices — part of his ministry to the poorest and most marginalized of society. It’s a message that he is continuing now that he is pope, saying he wants a church “for the poor.”
Previous popes would carry out the foot-washing ritual on Holy Thursday in Rome’s grand St. John Lateran basilica and the 12 people chosen for the ritual would always be priests to represent the 12 disciples.
That Francis would include women in this re-enactment is noteworthy given the insistence of some in the church that the ritual be reserved for men only: The argument is that Jesus’ disciples were all male, and the Catholic priesthood that evolved from the original 12 disciples is restricted to men. “The pope’s washing the feet of women is hugely significant because including women in this part of the Holy Thursday Mass has been frowned on — and even banned — in some dioceses,” said the Rev. James Martin*, a Jesuit priest and author of “The Jesuit Guide.” “It shows the all-embracing love of Christ, who ministered to all he met: man or woman, slave or free, Jew or Gentile,” he said. […]
*Who is the “Rev. James Martin”?
On February 22, 2013, UCAN news carried a most irreverent — considering the sanctity and gravity of the issue — article by Rev. James Martin. He is
culture editor of the liberal-left dissenting ‘America’ magazine which has been castigated by Rome, see http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/dissent/index.html. A priest who identifies himself as Fr. Osie wrote in the comments box, “What is your purpose in publishing this. To entertain us?” The article:
Rev James Martin tells us why he should be pope
Father Martin has come up with 12 reasons why he should be the one elected.
Eminences, I know you’ve got a tough job coming up in the conclave. You have to do the impossible: elect a guy who is super holy, wicked smart, speaks about a dozen languages and can run an international conglomerate. And if I can be a little blunt, chances are you may not know everyone in the room that day. Especially if you’ve just gotten that red hat you might be sitting in the Sistine Chapel listening to someone talking in French about aggornamiento and ressourcement and be too embarrassed to say to the guy on your left, “Who’s the heck is that?” Besides, everyone sort of looks the same: gray hair, red hat, glasses. It’s hard to keep them straight, no matter how many of those handy “Who’s Who” charts you might have studied.
So to make things easier, I’d like to suggest a candidate who you might not have thought about but upon a few seconds of reflection you’ll know is your man: Me.
Here are 12 reasons why you should elect me pope, which I’m calling: Twelve Reasons Why You Should Elect Me Pope.
1. I’m a man. That’s half the battle, right?
2. I’m baptized. And I’ve got the papers to prove it. No birther controversy here.
3. I speak several languages. Not well, but you know, who does really? I speak English, as you can see from this little essay. And guess what: Bonjour! That’s right: French! I started studying français when I was in seventh grade. (Notice I used the little thingy under the “c.”) That means I can talk to pretty much all of West Africa and France: that’s a lot of Catholics. Unfortunately, if I have to use the subjunctive or the pluperfect we’re out of luck, but all I have to do is avoid saying, “If I were” in any of my encyclicals and we’re golden.
But there’s more: Hola! That’s right: I speak Spanish. More or less. Or, “Mas o menos,” as we say in the biz. Now, in this case, I can’t really handle the past or future tenses, but that’s OK, because that means I’ll be speaking all about the present – which will make me sound forceful and confident. You know, “Now is the time!” Or “Ahora es la … well, ora, I guess.” Anyway, there are lots and lots of Spanish-speaking Catholics and once they hear my rendition of “De Colores,” they’ll be sold on the Servant of the Servants of God muy rapido.
4. I’m half Italian. I almost forgot: Ciao! I’m half Italian. On my mom’s side. So once I’m the Bishop of Rome I’ll easily be able to deal with any problems in the curia, because all the Italian curial officials will instantly recognize me as a paesan. Scandals? Finito! Mismanagement? Basta! (That’s Italian for “done” and “over,” in case yours is rustissimo.) My election will also satisfy anyone looking for an Italian pope: i.e., all the Italian cardinals, who you definitely want on your side. The other half of me, by the way, is Irish, which goes a long way in the States, believe you me.
5. I worked in Africa. I almost forgot my other language. Jambo! That’s right! I speak Swahili. Or Kiswahili. (That’s Swahili for Swahili.) Well, at least I used to. I worked in Kenya for two years. So for all those people who want a pope from the developing world, well, I’m not exactly from there, but there are three babies who were named after me while I was working in Kenya. (They’re not mine, if that’s a worry.) That’s got to count for something.
Now that you know that I speak English and Spanish and French and Swahili, you’re probably thinking, “Gee, why not Jim as the Pontifex Maximus?” Why not share that thought with the guy in red sitting next to you?
6. Books. You probably want a pope who is literate but maybe not someone who spends so much time writing books, what with all the stuff he has to deal with. I know that this was sometimes a criticism of Pope Benedict XVI – not that I’m casting any stones! But I’ve already written my books, so when I’m in the Vatican I’ll be 100 percent on the job. Nine to five. Weekends too, if things ever get really busy. Sundays, of course, I’ll be available for Masses.
7. Business experience! Speaking of jobs – guess what? – I’ve got a degree from the Wharton School. That’s one of the big business schools here in the States. Plus I worked at General Electric for six years. So here’s some good news: say arrivederci to any managerial problems in the curia. Ever heard of Management by Objectives? The marginal propensity to consume? The “Four Ps” of marketing? You will after I’m Supreme Pontiff. That place will run like a top. A top that makes money, too.
8. I’m ordained. I almost forgot: I’m already an ordained priest. That means that, since I meet all the other requirements, the only thing that left is for me to be willing to be ordained a bishop. And guess what: I’m willing. Now let me anticipate a minor objection. I’ll bet that you know that I took a vow as a Jesuit not to “strive for or ambition” any high office in the church, but I’ve got a nice, easy, canonically doable way around that roadblock. Once you elect me pope, I’ll be my own superior! After I put on those white robes, I can just call up the Jesuit superior general and say, “Hey, how about letting me accept that ordination as bishop and my election as pope?” And I figure he’ll have to say yes because he takes orders from me. Problem solved. Besides I’m not striving or ambitioning anyway. I’m campaigning.
9. Educated. The Jesuit training process is really, really, really long. I can’t even remember how many years I was in studies. That means that I studied philosophy (good to know), theology (really good to know) and a whole lot of other stuff like church history, which I think would be pretty helpful as pope. And guess what? I know Ancient Greek, too. That really impresses the scholarly types in the church. E.g., when scholars ask me, “What translation of the New Testament are you using?” I’ll say, “My translation.” They love that kind of thing. Plus, that appeals to the Ancient-Greek-speaking demographic that the church may have given up on.
10. Willing to travel. OK, I admit it. I’m not all crazy about air travel, what with all the delays and having to take your shoes off and sitting next to someone who keeps coughing up a lung, but it just dawned on me that this won’t be a problem at all. The Pontiff has his own airplane: Shepherd One. So once you install free movies in my gold-and-white plane I’m golden. I’ll go wherever you want me to go. To the ends of the earth, if need be. As long as I get an extra bag of peanuts.
11. Humility. I can already predict what your last objection is: My campaigning for pope may make me seem a tad less humble than you might hope for. But isn’t the fact that I’m willing to campaign a sign of my humility? A less humble guy would assume that everyone already knows that he’d be a good candidate and so wouldn’t say anything out of his pride. Kind of counterintuitive, huh? Ergo: Since I’m campaigning, I’m No. 1 when it comes to humility.
12. Cool Name. Everyone knows that the first big decision the pope makes is his choice of name. Plus, I know everyone’s always worried about continuity. With that in mind (I like to think ahead, which is a good trait) I’ve already picked my name. As you know, Pope Paul VI’s successor chose the name “John Paul I,” to show his continuity with Pope John XXIII and Paul VI. Everyone was pretty impressed with that. Next you had John Paul II. More continuity.
And of course next we had (or have, depending on when you’re reading this) Benedict XVI. If you elect me, and I hope you will, after I say “Accepto” (see I speak a little Latin too), I would choose my name: John Paul Benedict I. That takes care of everyone from John XXIII to Benedict. Continuity plus. Of course saying “JPB1″ might take some getting used to but Catholics are pretty flexible, and I’ll bet before long there will be lots of babies baptized John Paul Benedict.
Anyway, I hope that helps you make a tough decision easier, Your Eminences. Did I leave anything out? Well, I’m a fast typist, I can draw pretty well and I tell some really funny jokes. For example, here’s a good one: “What did the Jesuit say when he was elected pope.”
There’s only one way to find out.
UCAN sourced the story from the Huffington Post,
liberal-left, New Age-promoting news web site and blog, see http://ephesians-511.net/docs/UCAN_WANTS_TO_DO_AWAY_WITH_THE_PRIESTHOOD.doc.
Jesuit Fr. James Martin posts on dissident blogs such as at http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&id=DE2868B4-3048-887F-8F92F2808CD479AB.
The America magazine blurb says:
America magazine, “The National Catholic Weekly”, “One of the nation’s oldest and most respected Catholic Magazines”. Don’t be fooled by that.
magazine: A column for the Jesuit magazine America, in which Rev. James Martin, S.J. criticized Pope Benedict XVI’s pro-life and pro-family message in Portugal as “bizarre,” and implied it was contrary to the Gospel, has been revised to omit the strongest language…- May 20, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com). See also below**
So, who are among the first “Catholics” to celebrate the washing of the feet of women by a Pope? Dissenters and the liberal-left, priests such as James Martin.
** A Jesuit guide to almost everything
By Susan Brinkmann July 26, 2010
AS writes: “Our book club leader is asking us to review A Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything by James Martin for our next book. This book looks like New Age to me? I would appreciate your comments on this book.”
I can certainly appreciate why AS would think any book with the word “Jesuit” in the title is suspect, what with all the dubious teachings coming out of that order these days. And this particular book would certainly seem likely to spew dissent seeing as the author is the culture editor of the infamous America Magazine, a Jesuit publication not known for its faithfulness to Church teaching.
While I have not read the book (as a rule, I can’t get involved in doing book reviews because that would be like another full-time job), I was able to peruse its content on-line and found it to be very centered on the Ignatian way. It did not appear to be promoting any New Age ideas and even mentioned a few of my personal favorites, such as Avery Cardinal Dulles and Fr. Walter Ciszek. But as I said, I did not read the book and can only offer a limited assessment of its content.
Having said all this, I question why a Catholic book club leader would be recommending a book by an editor of a publication that is so well-known for its dissenting positions. Why play with fire when you don’t have to?
America Magazine had become so scandalous a few years back the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had to put pressure on the owners to remove its former editor, Fr. Thomas Reese. Under Reese’s tenure, essays were published that explored the moral arguments in favor of approving the use of condoms for HIV/AIDS, criticizing the 2000 document Dominus Iesus (on religious pluralism), an article about homosexual priests and even a guest essay written by Rep. David Obey (D-WI) and challenging the idea of refusing Communion to Catholic politicians who do not vote in accordance with the teachings of the Faith.
As for Fr. Martin himself, he recently criticized the pope for equating abortion and same-sex marriage and mentioned that a gay friend of his had recently left his position at the U.S. Conference of Bishops because “‘abortionsamesexmarriage’ had become one polysyllabic word among some of his bosses.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Fr. Martin’s book has anything in it that is contrary to the Faith, but he’s obviously comfortable around dissent (or what the cultural elites like to call “intelligent discourse”). I can only question why your book club leader would want to risk it when there are so many other books out there that could be read instead.
4. Pope washes women’s feet in break with church law
By Nicole Winfield, March 29, 2013
ROME (AP) — In his most significant break with tradition yet, Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of two young women at a juvenile detention center — a surprising departure from church rules that restrict the Holy Thursday ritual to men.
No pope has ever washed the feet of a woman before, and Francis’ gesture sparked a debate among some conservatives and liturgical purists, who lamented he had set a “questionable example.” Liberals welcomed the move as a sign of greater inclusiveness in the church. […]
That Francis would include women in his inaugural Holy Thursday Mass as pope was remarkable, however, given that current liturgical rules exclude women.
Canon lawyer Edward Peters, who is an adviser to the Holy See’s top court, noted in a blog that the Congregation for Divine Worship sent a letter to bishops in 1988 making clear that “the washing of the feet of chosen men … represents the service and charity of Christ, who came ‘not to be served, but to serve.’” While bishops have successfully petitioned Rome over the years for an exemption to allow women to participate, the rules on the issue are clear, Peters said.
“By disregarding his own law in this matter, Francis violates, of course, no divine directive,” Peters wrote. “What he does do, I fear, is set a questionable example.”
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said he didn’t want to wade into a canonical dispute over the matter. However, he noted that in a “grand solemn celebration” of the rite, only men are included because Christ washed the feet of his 12 apostles, all of whom were male.
“Here, the rite was for a small, unique community made up also of women,” Lombardi wrote in an email. “Excluding the girls would have been inopportune in light of the simple aim of communicating a message of love to all, in a group that certainly didn’t include experts on liturgical rules.”
Others on the more liberal side of the debate welcomed the example Francis set. “The pope’s washing the
feet of women is hugely significant because including women in this part of the Holy Thursday Mass has been frowned on — and even banned — in some dioceses,” said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of “The Jesuit Guide.” “It shows the all-embracing love of Christ, who ministered to all he met: man or woman, slave or free, Jew or Gentile.”
For some, restricting the rite to men is in line with the church’s restriction on ordaining women priests. Church teaching holds that only men should be ordained because Christ’s apostles were male. “This is about the ordination of women, not about their feet,” wrote the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a traditionalist blogger. Liberals “only care about the washing of the feet of women, because ultimately they want women to do the washing.”
Still, Francis has made clear he doesn’t favor ordaining women. In his 2011 book, “On Heaven and Earth,” then-Cardinal Bergoglio said there were solid theological reasons why the priesthood was reserved to men: “Because Jesus was a man.”
On this Holy Thursday, however, Francis had a simple message for the young inmates, whom he greeted one-by-one after the Mass, giving each an Easter egg.
“Don’t lose hope,” Francis said. “Understand? With hope you can always go on.”
One young man then asked why he had come to visit them.
Francis responded that it was to “help me to be humble, as a bishop should be.”
The gesture, he said, came “from my heart. Things from the heart don’t have an explanation.”
How Should We Understand Pope Francis Washing Women’s Feet?
By Jimmy Akin, email@example.com, March 28, 2013
It has been widely reported that, when he was still the cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, the future Pope Francis washed the feet of women during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Now he has done so as pope.
Here are some thoughts on Pope Francis’s decision and what it means.
This Year’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper
It was surprising but not surprising when the Holy See announced that Pope Francis had chosen to celebrate this year’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper not in one of the papal basilicas of Rome but, instead, in its juvenile prison. That’s precisely the kind of gesture that we have come to expect from the new pope in the short time we’ve been getting to know him. It’s not traditional, but it’s humble and evangelistic. And it corresponds to Jesus’ remarks that, when we visit those in prison, we are spiritually visiting him (Matthew 25:36-40).
It’s also in keeping with things he’s done before, such as holding the service in a maternity hospital in Buenos Aires in 2005.
So what happened with the footwashing ceremony this year?
The BBC is reporting:
During Thursday’s intimate service, the Pope washed and kissed the feet of 12 young detainees to replicate the Bible’s account of Jesus Christ’s gesture of humility towards his 12 apostles on the night before he was crucified. The 12 inmates included two girls, one Italian Catholic and one of Serbian Muslim origin, local prison ombudsman Angiolo Marroni said ahead of the ceremony.
That’s certainly a dramatic gesture.
A Muslim Girl?
It had been announced, in advance, that the young people who were going to be participating in the ceremony would be coming from different religious backgrounds, so this wasn’t a total surprise, but it was a striking choice.
What should we make of it?
I think we should understand it in the same light that explains the initial decision to celebrate this Mass in a youth prison: Pope Francis wants to reach out to the young people in the prison and bring them the light of Christ.
He is taking the role of a servant and an evangelist.
What he is doing hopefully will have a profound impact on the lives of these young people, hopefully setting them on the right path both in terms of civil law and in terms of their faith life.
He’s also, by this action, showing the world that he takes his role seriously as a servant of all people and an evangelist to all people.
Washing and kissing the feet of a Muslim girl in jail signifies that rather dramatically.
It also raises questions.
Here are a few:
1. What do the Church’s liturgical documents say about footwashing?
2. How does Pope Francis’s decision relate to this?
3. If the pope is going beyond what the Roman Missal says, can the pope just do that?
4. If he can do it, can others?
5. What should we expect in the future?
6. How should we understand the rite in light of this?
Let’s look at each of these . . .
1. What do the Church’s liturgical documents say about footwashing?
There are two key places one should look for an understanding of the footwashing ceremony. The first is found in the document that governs the celebrations connected with Easter, which is called Paschales Solemnitatis. According to this document:
51. The washing of the feet of chosen men which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the service and charity of Christ, who came “not to be served, but to serve.” This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained. [Emphasis the author's]
Please take note of the highlighted phrase. It will be important later.
The second document is the Roman Missal, which states:
10. After the Homily, where a pastoral reason suggests it, the Washing of Feet follows.
The men who have been chosen are led by the ministers to seats prepared in a suitable place. Then the Priest (removing the chasuble if necessary) goes to each one and, with the help of the ministers, pours water over each one’s feet and then dries them.
Meanwhile some of the following antiphons or other appropriate chants are sung. [Antiphons omitted]
13. After the Washing of Feet, the Priest washes and dries his hands, puts the chasuble back on, and returns to the chair, and from there he directs the Universal Prayer.
The Creed is not said.
There are several things to note here:
1. The text does speak of “men” having their feet washed. The Latin term that is used in the original (viri) indicates adult males specifically.
2. This rite is optional; it is done “where a pastoral reason suggests it.”
3. There is no specific number of men specified. It does not say twelve men are to have their feet washed. How many is a decision open to the celebrating priest.
4. Although I have omitted the antiphons for reasons of space, none of them speak of the “apostles.” They either use the more generic term “disciples” or they do not mention the disciples at all but rather Jesus’ example for us or his commandment to love one another.
2. How does Pope Francis’s decision relate to this?
Pope Francis’s decision goes beyond what is provided in these texts in at least one respect: Instead of washing the feet of adult males, he decided to wash the feet of young women as well.
The fact that one of them was a Muslim does not go beyond what the letter of the text specifies, since it does not indicate that the chosen men are to be Catholics (or other Christians).
One would expect that they would be Catholics, and one could argue that this is implied in the text, but since Pope Francis is now the individual who is ultimately responsible for interpreting the text, if he judges that it does not prevent washing the feet of non-Christians then it doesn’t.
His decision does go beyond the text in the matter of men, however.
3. Can Pope Francis just do things that aren’t provided for in the law?
Yes. The pope does not need anybody’s permission to make exceptions to how ecclesiastical law relates to him. He is canon law’s ultimate legislator, interpreter, and executor.
And it’s not uncommon, at least in recent decades, for a pope to make exceptions to the law in how papal ceremonies are performed.
John Paul II frequently held liturgies that departed from what the Church’s liturgical texts provide, particularly when he was making a form of dramatic outreach, and Pope Francis seems to be following in his footsteps.
4. If he can do this, can others?
Technically speaking, no. If a pope judges that, due to the particular circumstances of a papal celebration, an exception should be made, that does not create a legal precedent allowing others to do so.
After all, not everybody is in the same situation as the pope. They don’t have the same pastoral circumstances or the same legal authority, and so if he makes an exception in his application of the law in his own case, it does not create a legal precedent for others doing so who do not have his circumstances or authority. [Emphasis mine]
On the other hand, if people see the pope doing something, they are naturally going to treat it as an example to be followed.
People naturally imitate their leader. That’s the whole point behind Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. He was explicitly and intentionally setting an example for them.
Pope Francis knows that he is setting an example.
It has been reported, e.g., that when he was told that he didn’t need to pay his pre-conclave hotel bill that he insisted on doing so, saying expressly that, as the pope, he needed to set an example.
5. What should we expect in the future?
It’s hard to say.
On a practical level, I would expect that there will be more priests who do things similar to what the pope has done.
On a legal level, the matter is more uncertain.
We may get a clarification of the matter, perhaps from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
I suspect that, if we do get a clarification, it is likely to be one allowing more flexibility in terms of who has their feet washed. [Emphasis mine]
Already, the Congregation for Divine Worship has, apparently, indicated privately that a bishop can wash women’s feet if he feels a pastoral exception should be made. At least, that’s what Cardinal O’Malley indicated he was told when he asked them about the subject (see here for more info).
We’ll have to see, though. They may not say anything.
6. How should we understand the rite in light of Pope Francis’s action?
There has been a tendency in some circles to see the footwashing rite as linked specifically to the twelve apostles, and this has been presented as a reason why it should be limited to men.
In the past, I myself promoted that understanding, because that is how it was first explained to me.
It’s a natural understanding, particularly when twelve individuals are chosen to have their feet washed, and in an age when altar girls and women’s ordination have been receiving attention.
However, as I’ve looked more closely at the texts, other elements have struck me:
First, as we mentioned, the number twelve is not mandated in the text. The number is the choice of the celebrating priest. That, right there, loosens the connection of the rite with the apostles.
Second, this event is recorded only in John’s Gospel, and John does not describe Jesus as washing the feet of “the apostles.” Instead, John says that he washed the feet of “his disciples.” Disciples is a more generic term than apostles. Although they are sometimes used synonymously, Jesus had many more disciples than he did apostles.
Third, none of the antiphons sung during this rite (which might give clues to its meaning) speak of the “apostles.” They either use the more generic term “disciples” or they do not mention the disciples at all but rather Jesus’ example for us and his commandment to love one another.
Fourth, none of the explanatory texts for this rite explain it in terms of an action directed specifically to the apostles.
The most direct explanation of the rite’s purpose is found in Paschales Solemnitatis, which says:
51. The washing of the feet of chosen men which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the service and charity of Christ, who came “not to be served, but to serve.” This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained.
This indicates that we should understand that this rite “represents the service and charity of Christ”–not as a statement about ordination to the priesthood. To read it that way goes beyond what the texts indicate.
According to the texts, our focus should be on the service and charity displayed in the rite and how we should serve and be charitable to one another.
The rite should not be read in the matrix of issues like women’s ordination. This rite isn’t about ordination, the way the Church understands it.
At least that’s how Pope Francis seems to understand it.
A Final Thought
I’d add one more thing, which is that it’s understandable that we might be perplexed or concerned about this.
After all, we do live in an age in which authentic Catholic teaching involving gender is under assault. The last few years have seen a lot of flashpoints involving the idea of women’s ordination. It’s under-standable that issues like altar servers and footwashing would be viewed in that matrix. [Emphasis mine]
At the same time, we should keep this in perspective.
The footwashing ceremony is only an optional rite, and it was only made part of this Mass in 1955 by Pope Pius XII, so its modern liturgical use doesn’t even go back that far.
The question of who serves at altar is far more closely connected to who is likely to think about becoming a priest than the question of who has their feet washed on Holy Thursday.
If the Holy See were to decide to expand how the law is to be applied in this case, it would not signal the end of the world.
If the Church can survive altar girls, it can certainly survive a change in the discipline regarding who has their feet washed. [Emphasis mine]
The National Catholic Register is a 2013 finalist for the Best Catholic Newspaper award.
SELECTED COMMENTS [CONSERVATIVES -- THAT IS ONE IN TWO COMMENTS -- DISAGREE WITH CATHOLIC ANSWERS APOLOGIST JIMMY AKIN]
Dear Jimmy Akin: There is no other way to explain what the current occupant of the Chair of St. Peter did today other than to call it what it is: “A wicked gesture against Our Lord and Saviour Himself.” In fact, Jesus Himself said this would happen on March 14, 2013 through Maria Divine Mercy. Read at the link below.
http://www.thewarningsecondcoming.com/this-wicked-gesture-during-holy-week-will-be-seen-by-those-who-keep-their-eyes-open/. I respectfully disagree with you, Mr. Jimmy Akin. I wish people would open their eyes to the prophecies of MDM and pray about them instead of ignoring them. A Pope is supposed to set an example. Disregarding your own Liturgical Rules that calls for 12 men and adding 2 women does not sound good. He should have changed the rules first if he didn’t like them instead of disregarding them altogether as if the rules do not exist. Bad, bad, precedent. All these parsing of what “men” mean is irrelevant to those of us who have been skeptically watching. -Fidelis
I disagree [with Jimmy Akin]. Jesus washed the feet of 12 men. I figured excuses were going to be made for our Pope. Hope there aren’t more changes against tradition. –T.G.
Mr. Akin, Your quote: “It’s not traditional, but it’s humble and evangelistic” is in error. To break traditions and to re-fabricate them according to one’s own ideas is quite egocentric and prideful. … It is a false showboat form of humility. A truly humble man guards tradition, preserving it intact and passing it on unmodified to the next generation. –Chris Lauer
Entirely spurious reasoning. The Pope, as Supreme Legislator can, indeed, change Ecclesiastical law like our legislative bodies can. But, to ignore the law entirely as he did is an act of the worst sort of monarchism and, indeed, smacks of the clericalism so many people abhor. It’s not Pope Francis’ Mass, it’s the Church’s Mass.
Leave it to the Jesuits to send us a Pope who is unfaithful to himself (in his office). (Yes, yes, fine: the Pope judges all and is judged by none, fine, but it remains a duty to speak the truth.) -JRP
“The washing of the feet of chosen men which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the service and charity of Christ, who came ‘not to be served, but to serve’ (Matt XX: 28)…this tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained.”
-CDWDS document, Paschales Solemnitatis, 1988 –Oatmeal
Sadly it looks like the Roman Church’s liturgical tradition is going to continue to unravel. –Walt
Mr. Akin, You argue above that the use in John’s Gospel of “disciples”, rather than “apostles”, lends ambiguity to the link, since the terms are not always interchangeable (though they can be). However, does not the fact that this took place at the Last Supper strongly imply that only the Twelve were present to have their feet washed? -LV
I anticipated this, after seeing footage of him doing the same thing in his home town. Whatever his intention, it will be seen by very many secular priests as a big fat red line through the rules of the GIRM.
Now everything will be seen as up for grabs. He has also greatly hampered any efforts by those of us who are trying to bring back more faithful liturgical practices.
In our parish church on Holy Thursday there is a drama of the last supper acted out by adults with oral script while the priest separately goes about consecrating the Body and Blood of Christ up on the altar. Thank God and Benedict XVI for the EF in the neighbouring diocese. –Jonah
If the Pope wants to change it, then so be it. But just do it right. Change the rubrics and explain why they are being changed. Then follow the new rubrics. That’s both good leadership and the pastoral approach. –Stu
While the Pope can “get away” with breaking canon law as the supreme legislator, he is setting an example, as you point out, for others to follow. However, unless Francis changes canon law—and there is no time before this evening to promulgate it, it will be a sin for others to do the same. Francis, as pope, is leading his priests to sin. Fortunately, under the circumstances, probably only venial. But intentionally leading others into sin is about as evil as evil gets. –Cassandra
I have always placed the liturgical ceremonies of Holy Thursday as our commemoration of the institution of the priesthood and the institution of the Eucharist. There is no mention of any women being present at the Last Supper – truly extraordinary as the Mother of God was most definitely in Jerusalem, she would next day be at the foot of the Cross. Twelve men had their feet washed by Christ as these twelve would take the burden of Christ’s priesthood – thus when we wash the feet of females and those who do not share our faith, we lessen the focus on those who would be ordained. Today, we really need to concentrate the hearts and minds of those who are now ordained as priests and those who will be ordained or who are discerning a vocation to the priest – there is a journey now lasting 2,000 years that brings us to this time. Let’s stay the course! That this liturgical innovation dates only to 1955 is neither here nor there – it is like saying that the Roman Missal in its current form was only approved for use in its new translation from Advent 2011. –Martin Shanahan
PASCHALIS SOLLEMNITATIS – The Preparation And Celebration Of The Easter Feasts Congregation for Divine Worship
IV. HOLY THURSDAY EVENING MASS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER
51. The washing of the feet of chosen men which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the service and charity of Christ, who came “not to be served, but to serve.  This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained.
What is Pope Francis really saying?
Here is what I think Pope Francis is up to.
In this explanation I am not necessarily endorsing specific things that he is doing (washing the feet of females in a prison) or not doing (refusing the mozzetta, etc.).
I am trying to get at what I think Pope Francis is really up to.
Before liberals and traditionalists both have a spittle-flecked nutty, each for their own reasons, try to figure out what he is trying to do.
Firstly, we are not succeeding in evangelizing. We are going backwards, globally. Francis knows this. This has to be foremost in his mind. This fact was probably foremost in the considerations of the College of Cardinals. How could it not be? So, Francis is faced with the obligation to address the problem of evangelization.
In the wealthy west, the Church is often perceived (and it is so very often portrayed) as not being compassionate. The Church doesn’t care about women in crisis pregnancies (and therefore we don’t condone abortion or contraception because we are not “compassionate”. The Church doesn’t care about the divorced and remarried (because we don’t admit them to Holy Communion and therefore we are not “compassionate”). Likewise, getting down into the nitty-gritty of defending small-t traditions and fighting over their meaning, their larger value, history and worth today, we are not compassionate (because we talk about the details of worship we are therefore ignoring the real needs of people and we are therefore not compassionate).
There are all sorts of ways in which people have lost the sense that the Church is actually about compassion, properly understood.
I think what Pope Francis is up to is trying to project, re-project, is an image of the Church as compassionate. He is trying to help people remember (or learn for the first time) that she is actually all about compassion, charity in its truest form.
We’ve lost the message and we have to get it back.
For example, in his sermon for the Chrism Mass he indicated that priests need to be edgier, take more risks in getting out there with people. He is probably thinking (like a Latin American bishop might with enormous slums in the diocese) that you depart from certain things for the sake of connecting elsewhere. You risk being over-interpreted or losing control of the message for the sake of getting the real message out there again.
I’ll wager that, as a Jesuit, Francis doesn’t care about liturgy very much. He is just not into – one whit – either what traditional liturgy types or what liturgical liberals want.
Some liberals live and breathe liberal liturgy. On the other end of the spectrum, such as the undersigned, traditional Catholics think that liturgy is critical but for different reasons (“Save The Liturgy, Save The World”, comes to mind). Francis isn’t invested in either of these camps.
For Francis, I think, it is more a matter of “a pox on both your houses”.
Putting it in a vague way, Francis wants people to leave Mass feeling “joy”, or something having to do with the “kingdom”, etc. As he said at the Chrism Mass he wants people leaving Mass “as if they have heard the good news”.
Look. I am not saying his is the right approach. I am saying this is what I think he is doing in his liturgical and personal-style choices (where he is living, what chair he sits in, etc.).
Francis wants priests to talk to people and find out what they need and get involved in their daily struggles. Liturgy, for Francis, seems to be involved precisely in that. Do I think Francis may be missing huge points in this approach? Sure, right now I do. But I am leaving the jury out.
I don’t have to 100% embrace what Francis is doing even as I struggle to see and understand what I is up to.
I am quite sure, however, that Francis isn’t trying to ruin what Benedict and John Paul before him tried to construct. He is up to something else. He is getting at the problem of the Church not making any headway in evangelization.
Here is a problem.
Liberals will find it far easier than conservatives to claim that Francis’ actions are endorsements of their liberal thing. Remember this: Liberals could give a damn about the gender of the person whose feet are being washed. Their focus is really the gender of the one doing the washing. Liturgical liberals are included in this. They only care about the washing of the feet of women, because ultimately they want women to do the washing. This is about the ordination of women, not about their feet.
Before these liberals start taking their victory laps, I would remind them that Francis is not going to touch doctrine. He has clearly talked about the Devil. He has spoken clearly before his election about same-sex stuff as discrimination against children. He has firmly fought Liberation Theology.
What liberals forget in their present crowing is that even as Francis makes himself – and the Church – more popular by projecting compassionate image, he will simultaneously make it harder for them to criticize him when he reaffirms the doctrinal points they want him to overturn.
Francis is pushing out to the world (ad extra) an image of compassion. I think he is correcting both sides, within the Church (ad intra), which may both be, both sides, losing the forest for the trees: we are not succeeding in evangelizing and we cannot sacrifice doctrine for the sake of mere popularity or worldly acceptance.
SELECTED [OUT OF 83] COMMENTS
I think a great deal has to do with him being a Jesuit, as you say. I have never known a Jesuit personally who gave a care about the liturgy, one way or another. So maybe we should not read too much into Pope Francis’ style as it emerges. Now if he doesn’t wear the mozzetta for the Via Crucis, well all bets are off! –Marcello
I think he’s going to have the effect—and very soon—of undoing a great deal of what Benedict did. Moreover, he is giving lots of ammo to those who want to put the worst possible spin on Benedict’s pontificate.
I’m not throwing a spittle flecked nutty. But I am coming quickly to terms with a sinking reality that the Benedictine reform is dead in the water. Yes, the priests were empowered and shown a fine example, but there was not enough time for momentum to develop or for the biological solution to take its effect. –Vox Borealis
Madness. Jesus Mercy. – Louis IX
I suppose my concern isn’t that Francis is washing the feet of a Muslim in a prison or not wearing the mozzetta. My concern is that Francis is projecting the image that he knows better. As Father Z wrote last week, Francis risks making this look like it’s all about him. I certainly don’t think that’s his goal, but that’s an impression that can be drawn from his actions.
It’s been a whirlwind two weeks since Francis was chosen so we all must give him time, even if we are uneasy about some of what we’ve seen. Hopefully, Francis will come to realize some of the outward signs of traditions he’s chosen not accept aren’t a sign of a disconnected Church, but a reflection of the traditions and beliefs that have made the Church endure for 2000 years. -Robbie
I am happy that I do not have to like the liturgy of the Holy Father, any of them for that matter, and can remain Catholic. I’ll leave it at that. It reminds me of when Benedict mentioned condoms in that interview with Peter Seewald. It was completely misunderstood and it took much heavy-lifting and hand-wringing by others to make it not sound heretical. I fear the same this time. Why do these men of God have to make our job as Catholics harder? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? – Lavrans
I don’t think it matters any more what he’s trying to do. He now has no moral authority, since he flouted the norms – and the usual result of flouting norms is chaos. –Nanette Claret
Thank you Father but I am having a spittle-flecked nutty anyway. Pope Francis has an enormous responsibility toward the liturgy and adherence to canon law. His love for the poor and for people on the margins is admirable and winsome, but it is not necessary in the least to bless a liturgical abuse in order to demonstrate love for an outcast. In choosing to engage in a liturgical abuse much loved by liberals, he has not put any pox whatsoever on the liberal camp. Rather, he has endorsed that camp’s views about the liturgy. He at the same time has undermined the Vatican’s authority, which is his responsibility to uphold. Why should anyone take what the Vatican says seriously if the Pope doesn’t? –Donato 2
Simply put, I’m scandalized, confused and frightened. Beyond that, I have no words. –David Andrew
I am a bit concerned about this, not because I think washing the feet of women is the lynchpin of the Catholic faith, but because Pope Francis is setting an example that it’s OK to break canon law.
Dr. Edward Peters has a great, level-headed as always, post on this:
I see all those who have been abusing the liturgy and violating canon law as being validated. I see the Bishops who won’t apply Canon 915 as being validated, even lauded, for standing up to that big bad Canon Law.
This is what pops in to my mind, but I’m new to the CC and don’t know much about these things, so Fr. Z., please relieve my fears. –O. Possum
I don’t know about any of this. We live in an insane age that thinks it has the right a complete understanding of every single thing we see at the moment it passes before our eyes. I do fear that Francis’ papacy will be a tragic one because of all the expectations (and I even hear these from the priests in my own parish) heaped on the poor man from the instant he walked out on the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square; it isn’t called the ‘room of tears’ for nothing I suppose.
In any case the man has barely been pope for two weeks, and a month and a half ago he was thinking only of the concerns of his Archdiocese in Buenos Aires without a second thought to the papacy, so give him a break. His papacy may turn out to be a disaster for the Church in which case it will be our Cross to bear patiently and without complaint, but then again it may not be so bad and may even might be a good thing. And no matter what your opinion of his recent actions PRAY FOR POPE FRANCIS with all your heart because he needs it. –Priam
I too am scandalized, confused and frightened, but I have many words. I don’t know how I can stay in a church where the pope not only refuses to refer to himself as pope, but refuses to follow church law. If he breaks one law, what assurance do we have he will not break more. I am not convinced that he will not change any doctrines. So many Jesuits want women priests, abortion and SSM. I can’t feel good about him not being in that camp. This foot free for all has scandalized me unbelievably. This, I fear, is only the beginning of the end. The only constant I have ever had in my life has been the unchanging Church. Now that too is gone. It will be a sad, sad Easter. –Pooh Bear
“Liberals will find it far easier than conservatives to claim that Francis’ actions are endorsements of their liberal thing.” And there is what has me worried most (aside from episcopal choices, perhaps). Francis may have said that the Church isn’t an NGO, but his emphasis on compassion-and-humility makes it that any liberal can portray it as such. In fact, any liberal (as measured relative to the societal mean) will see it that way too, as they won’t give a tenth of a penny about salvation and all the other elements that sets the Church apart from your run-of-the-mill NGO. At the end of the day, the Church must be compassionate, and it’s certainly helpful to be regarded as such. But the Church’s mission is not to alleviate poverty – I’d go so far as to say compassion can never strike a decisive blow against poverty; only good governance (freedom and rule of law) can do so. The Church mission is first and foremost to get souls to Heaven. To make it clear: I’m not saying Pope Francis has any other mission in mind. But what he does, is thus far giving a wholly different impression. And impressions count too. –Phil
Unfortunately, I don’t believe returning to tactics and techniques from the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s is going to evangelize anyone! It is what got us into the mess the Church is in today. –Acardnl
The great danger is that however well intentioned Pope Francis may be, others will interpret the gestures toward their own ends which will, in the end, do no good for the Church. I agree we should give him some breathing room but flouting law and tradition only undermines his own authority so that for all the help he wants to bring to the poor, the world will pay very little mind to what he has to say. After all, the next guy may change it all anyway, so what’s the bother?
I still do not think he has grasped the enormity of his office. He is not a bishop of a struggling Third World diocese. He is the Supreme Pontiff and should not only look but act the role. The humble little pastor of the poor is endearing to many pious souls but Mammon will tire of it very quickly and turn on him in a New York minute; what moral authority he has now will vanish in the blink of an eye. -Marcello
I hope you are right in your analysis, Fr Z. I noticed that for the Holy Mass in prison, the number of candles had also been reduced to one at each side… If Pope Francis is not bothered liturgically, why would he order this change as well, going against a simple Benedictine arrangement? Maybe God is telling us that the Novus Ordo is beyond a reform of the reform…maybe we should be looking forward to its abolishment some time in the 21st century, to be replaced by the vetus ordo or the byzantine mass all over the world. -Ambrose
I think it will be difficult for Pope Francis or the CDWDS Prefect to address reports of liturgical irregularities while the Holy Father is breaking rubrics himself [without modifying them beforehand as far as we know]. –Dr. K
That is a charitable way to look at what he is doing Fr Z. I never thought it possible but less than a month into this papacy it is safe to say it is a failure. Go ahead, jump all over me and say it has only been 2 or 3 weeks blah, blah, blah. If indeed we look at this in the best possible light as Fr Z just did. It reeks of incompetence and ignorance. Or he could be doing something on purpose. Many were saying that the next Pope needed to be someone who could speak through the modern media. Well, message heard loud and clear Francis!
If he is not doing this on purpose, he is incredibly naive. Once the modern leftists and the media get a toe in the door they open it with great force. We were already getting our brains bashed in by the secular liberal world. Now, by showing them “compassion” it will only be taken as a sign of weakness. The wolves will redouble their efforts. It was hard enough to fight for Truth when we had an Orthodox Pope. Now, this will disintegrate very, very quickly. Francis strikes me as a very powerful man. As a very forceful man. The media portrays him as meek and humble but his actions have been hostile and aggressive. If you are going to do mental gymnastics and twists to fit this Pope into Traditional Catholicism and explain away every thing he is doing you will go mad Fr Z!
This battle is LOST! This Pope has done more for the progressives in 2 weeks than the last 2 Popes have done in 30 years for traditionalists.
And we are arguing if he is doing it on purpose or not!?
It does not matter. The damage and scandal is just as damaging no matter what the intent.
A Pope elected by the curia, at a time when people were talking of cleaning the curia… and this Pope diminishes the Papacy. Uh oh!
God help him.
God help us.
God help the world.
God help our Church.
God help me see that I am wrong… -Potato
If a Pope is prepared to simply ignore whatever he wants it doesn’t bode well. People may put a positive spin on what he is doing- but it seems at the moment that the Papacy is all about him and not much else. In terms of liturgy it seems he doesn’t give two hoots about beauty or reverence, and doesn’t seem to care about following the rubrics as laid down. I fear a succession of deeply depressing events during the course of this pontificate, events that will do nothing to help bring about Christian unity, and do everything to push many people over the edge towards sedevacantism.
Hand on heart I feel they have elected the wrong man, and we are doomed to a return to 1970s style bland liturgy and catechism that is just monumentally awful, with emboldened liberals thrusting their heretical ideas onto impressionable young minds. –Alex P
As for me, the dam is breaking. I hoped against hope that all the signs weren’t true, even as they were mounting: reportedly endorsed civil unions, reportedly spoke dismissively of the Regensburg address, showed no care for the liturgy while archbishop of Buenos Aires, reportedly said that some priests over emphasize sexual morality and that this is an impediment to evangelization, and seems hostile to the primacy of Rome. There is no doubt about it: at the liturgical level and level of sensibilities, he is an out an out liberal. Like poohbear, I too fear that these attitudes will infect doctrine. Here however we must have faith, faith in Christ’s promise that the gates of Hell will not prevail. Our faith requires only that the Pope not teach error in matters of faith and morals. Jesus did not promise that none of the successors of Peter would trash the liturgy or flout canon law.-Donato
“I am trying to get at what I think Pope Francis is really up to.”
Why would we HAVE to figure out what he is up to? I’m very much afraid that Dr. Peters is correct. Why reform the law when it is easier to flout? Very much saddened to witness this by the Holy Father as well as the apologists working over time to excuse. –Keith
1. Can anyone imagine this level of liturgical knowledge, general outrage, and public education ten years ago? We’re much stronger and more knowledgeable than we were in the “pro multis” days.
2. Any pastor worth his collar won’t want anything to do with the foot washing ceremony after this. He can’t win. So this might be the death knell of this Bugnini innovation.
3. The ne0-evangelists can’t hope against hope anymore. They have nowhere to hide, and frankly owe the traddies an apology. Going forward, they are going to have to decide whether obedience in liturgy and beauty matters or not to the new evangelization. It’s a time for choosing for those folks. -Rellis
A few weeks ago would breaking liturgical law have been considered productive to evangelization at this blog? –David Werling
I wanted to respond to two thoughts mentioned by others. First, someone said the Holy Spirit chose Francis. I would disagree with you and so would the former Cardinal Ratzinger. In 1998 I believe, he wrote that the Holy Spirit does NOT choose the Pope and the best evidence of that is the fact we’ve had some bad Popes (Alexander VI, Urban VII).
Second, someone mentioned that much of what we’re seeing has to do with the fact Francis is a Jesuit. I suspect that has played a huge role, but Francis is no longer a Jesuit who happens to be the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He’s the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t believe he should cast aside all that has formed him life, but the Papacy is bigger than just being a Jesuit, correct? –Robbie
One card at a time, Pope Francis is showing us his philosophy. I agree with Vox Borealis that the reform of the reform is toast. It’ll slide into oblivion and be replaced with all that many of us have fought against for 40 years. Many of our Bishops that have wavered on the edge will swing back to the “left”.
Having said all that, I must add that this is our Cross to carry for at least 6-10 years. Perhaps the pendulum will swing back next time. –Sword
I only have one problem with what Pope Francis did. He should have FIRST revised the official liturgical rules, and then went ahead and washed women’s feet. I love Pope Francis a lot and think he is a holy man, but this is the sort of thing that can cause division and a lack of obedience to spread. –Dave M
To poohbear and david andrew : My friends in Christ, just keep your eyes on Jesus, read the Catechism and the Bible, pray and ask for the prayers of our Blessed Mother and our Saints and be thankful for all the many joys and blessings to be found in the Sacraments and in the little things that make life worthwhile. We’re going to be tested and we must keep the faith. “Be ye not afraid”.
If I were you I wouldn’t waste my time speculating about what is going on in Rome right now. As I said in a post the other day, I feel we’re on a slippery slope and it’s imperative to keep focused on Jesus. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart. Lean not unto thine own understanding.” We’ve been given all that is needed but we must trust and obey our Lord and Church teachings. Thank God they’re all written down… let us write them on our hearts! – D B Wheeler
What is Pope Francis really saying when he states that the Moslems worship the same God as Christians do? –Nancy D
A person can give a good example and a person can give a poor example. Francis may have given us both at the same time.
I think he could have solved this (as the churches chief legislator) by simply issuing a Motu Proprio modifying the Mandatum. Problem solved. –pseudomodo
“For example, in his sermon for the Chrism Mass he indicated that priests need to be edgier, take more risks in getting out there with people. He is probably thinking (like a Latin American bishop might with enormous slums in the diocese) that you depart from certain things for the sake of connecting elsewhere.” Father, with all respect, I heard all this stuff in the 60′s and 70′s. It didn’t effectively evangelize anybody then, and I have no confidence that it will be more successful now. My attitude is to hunker down and await the coming storm, and pray that we will have the strength to persevere. When the storm breaks, all the departures from tradition will not buy any good will or forbearance from the world. Rather, they will be a source of weakness. –wecahill
I asked myself, were I the devil, what would I want for Easter? The answer, of course, is the uproar we’re having now. I do not have the good fortune of living in a conservative/traditional-minded diocese. (If I revealed which diocese, many on this thread would be shocked. X diocese has such an appearance of tradition that even the liberal bastion next door would be surprised.) On the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross, 2007, four of our priests ‘came out’ regarding the TLM. All had made preparations quietly for years, betting against the odds–one beginning in his seminary days, I believe. They did not enjoy support from the bishop, and not all their fellow priests reacted well. (I don’t hesitate to use the word cruel in certain instances.) But the law is now on their side, and they are making a difference, although progress sometimes seems awfully slow.
What I’m trying to say is, yes, it would be great if Francis were another Benedict, but he’s not. If the only time we can expect to make headway toward liturgical renewal is when a conservative pope is sitting, then I agree, let’s pack up and quit right now–isn’t there anyone else who finds this notion utterly ludicrous? Since when has any lasting change come from the top down? If we’re going to have reform, it MUST be implemented from the bottom up. (Think about that the next time you run across one of those “This means YOU” ads.) I’m sorry Pope Francis isn’t observing his own rubrics; we should be honest and admit that few priests do. We can hold them to a higher standard. We must be both patient and persistent.
And we need the good natured pluck of the little boy who, when shown a pile of manure, joyfully attacked it with a shovel. “With all this @&$%,” he said, “There has to be a pony in here somewhere!”
Somewhere, in all this @&$%, is a reform of the reform. –Therese
Fr I wish I shared your certainty about his intentions in regards to the issues you raise. I do not share your confidence, especially in regards to the Liturgy. Things appear to be “spirit of VII” full steam ahead despite the approach of humility and trying to make the Church relevant to those who have dismissed it as uninterested in the unfortunate of this world. The “reform of the reform” is over and the approach, whatever the direction it is headed in is more like that of a heavy earth mover than a piece by piece approach. There will be a lot more surprises to come as he breaks with tradition at every opportunity. –Hank Igitur
Sure you will get some new people into the Church with this method and at the price of others being fed up with the instability and disorientation. Yeah, we all know it is on your soul leaving the Church but that doesn’t stop them. People leave for the very chaos that they are going through now. The “Catholic Come Home” thing that has been going on the last few years probably brought in some people. People who may have left during the crisis years because they saw something familiar in Benedict and the Church. More stability etc. And now they will exit in distrust and with resentment. So in the end it is the shifting of numbers. And I don’t believe at all this is the right approach. The Church is supposed to be a huge umbrella where everyone can take shelter and feel at home. The continuing shifting of groups, reaching for one while putting off another is a lose, lose situation. What surprises me most is the hubris with which this is being done and at such a rapid pace. Did no one learn of the dizzying effect this had in the 60′ and early 70′s ? For a Pope to subject the Faithful to this, with no explanation doesn’t strike me as humble at all. At least with each symbol or restoration that Benedict did there were explanations, reasons grounded in sound Tradition and logic. Setting himself against Benedict’s reforms and John Paul II’s conservative moments is how it is coming off to folks. And Rome knows that which makes the silence about why day after day all the more deafening. –Mitchell
Washing women’s feet?
By Fr. Dwight Longenecker, March 28, 2013
Today Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve detainees in a youth detention center. Two of them were female.
What are we to make of the Holy Father disregarding the rubrics which call for “selected men” to have their feet washed, and what does his washing feet of females say about the link between the foot washing and the apostolic ministry?
Jimmy Akin points out that the church documents don’t actually link the foot washing with the apostolic ministry, although that is one level of symbolism. Instead it states that the foot washing is primarily a sign of service.
Clearly, the Holy Father wishes to emphasize this symbolic aspect of foot washing more than the link with the apostolic ministry. At the heart of the symbolism of foot washing are the Lord’s words, “I have not come to be served, but to serve.” and “The greatest among you must be the slave of the least.” By taking a step to the lowest of the low in society and washing their feet he is emphasizing the heart of the ceremony–at the expense of the other rich symbolism of Holy Thursday.
What do I make of it? It’s okay. He’s the Pope. I’m concerned that his willingness to disregard the rubrics may give the wrong signal and give carte blanche to every other priest who wants to use the liturgy to make a personal point. I personally wish he had found a way to combine all the elements of this rich symbolism together–maybe by choosing to wash the feet of selected priests and brothers who spend their lives serving the poor. He would thereby have also re-emphasized his role as “the servant of the servants of God”. By doing this within his basilica of St John Lateran (I know he hasn’t yet taken possession of it) he would also be showing through rich and traditional symbolism, the role of the Bishop of Rome as the servant of the poor by washing the feet of those priest members of the Body of Christ who serve the poorest of the poor.
On the other hand, by taking a radical step and washing the feet of poor young prisoners – women as well as men – he not only reminds us of the radical nature of the symbol, but also the unexpected and sometimes upsetting example of the Lord himself – who upset some religious traditions in order to make a point.
In the gospel Jesus repeatedly flouted some strict rules for a greater good, and so upset the religious legalists. Did the Pope break the rubrics? At the end of the day the rubrics are there to serve the gospel–not the gospel to serve the rubrics.
see further below; the above article seems to be a complete reversal – or adjustment – of his initial position.
SELECTED [OUT OF 35] COMMENTS
I fear that this is a case of the right thing done the wrong way. The Holy Father’s actions would have had more impact if he had changed the rubric instead of defying it. –Wineinthewater
If one takes Sacrosanctum Concilium seriously; the Holy Father as the Bishop of Rome and the Chief Liturgist not only for that Diocese but also for the Church… one may conclude that if the Chief Liturgist chooses to ignore the liturgical rubrics, then he is sadly setting the example that could be followed by all other bishops and priests – ignore the rubrics for a “higher cause”. If this is the pattern he is setting, I fear we’re back to the 1960′s-70′s with clown Masses and pizza and beer instead of break and wine – as long as the “innovations” (deviations from the rubrics) serve a perceived “higher cause”. –Robert
There is no excuse for this and none should be given. We all know the ramifications to his public witness to his own disobedience. This is beginning to look like a show of self love in the name of humility. We must wait for his appointments before we form any convictions but so far, his judgment is starting to smell of a wreckovator. – Carol
I appreciate your kindness toward the Holy Father, but this is a sad thing to watch. Yes, we’ve always had priests who loved innovation – they were disobedient to Rome. But when Rome improvises? The fall out from this is anybody’s guess. I feel especially sad for faithful priests who hold fast to doctrine in the face of an incredibly hostile culture. They may have ’70′s mindset’ bishops, but they could always look to the Holy Father… -Anne
Why is it OK for the pope to violate liturgical rubrics &, in doing so, set a very bad example for priests & bishops? Is he deliberately advocating disobedience to Church law in a era of widespread disobedience on the part of clergy & laity alike? Why take a chance on causing even more harm when Catholics are already walking a tightrope in so many areas? I don’t care if he’s the head of the Church–as such, he’s even more obligated to set the example for all Catholics. Guess it’s OK for me to disobey now as long as it benefits the poor & marginalized, right? I’m following his example. Somehow, I don’t think Jesus would approve of it. One of the holiest days of the year for Catholics & he excludes his fellow Catholics from this Mass. How wonderful! –Ben
As Pope Benedict said “One must not just come in as pope and start to make things the way he would like to.” I am really concerned at these changes which are making the previous popes look like evil men. Something is not right. –Taad
Men only foot washing
April 2, 2012 By Fr. Dwight Longenecker
Thomas MacDonald writes well here about the foot washing to take place at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday.
What he doesn’t mention is that the rubrics at the Mass call for men to have their feet washed. I wonder how many parishes have “creative” priests who use this as an opportunity to be “inclusive”. I’ve already had one person ask my advice on Facebook on how to respond to his priest who wants his seven year old daughter to be one of the people having their feet washed.
We should get this straight. The tradition and the rubrics mandate that men are to have their feet washed. Not little girls, not women, not boys. Men. Why is this? Because the foot washing ceremony is not only an example of Christ being the lowest servant of all, as Tom’s article makes clear, but it is also a consolidation of the apostolic ministry.
How often have you heard this one? “Jesus never ordained priests and bishops–the whole masculine hierarchy thing is a man made invention.” Not so. The Church teaches that the Last Supper was not only the institution of the Holy Eucharist, but also the ordination of the first presbyters of the church. Our Lord establishes the Eucharist and says to the twelve, “Do this in memory of me.” As the Passover is re-configured into the Eucharist, so the twelve tribes of Israel are re-configured into the apostolic ministry. Furthermore, when we read the text closely we see that the whole passage which we call ‘the high priestly prayer of Christ’ not only establishes Christ as the great High Priest, but we also see how he is sharing every aspect of his priestly ministry with his apostles.
Twelve men are chosen to bear the authority of Christ on earth and at the Last Supper he passes on his authority and ministry on to them. This is why in John’s gospel, at the Last Supper, Christ’s long discourse has as its theme “As the Father has sent me, so I have sent you.” (John.18.18) The entire long discourse is his delegation of authority and ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles. The fact of the matter is that despite the Lord’s mother being the holiest of people, and despite the fact that he had many holy women in his entourage, Jesus chose twelve men to be his apostles.
The foot washing therefore has a strong resonance with the establishment of the apostolic ministry. As Christ has served them, they are to serve the rest of the church and the world. The twelve men who have their feet washed therefore represent the twelve apostles as well as representing the whole people of God. As Christ has become the slave of all, so the apostles too are to be “the servants of the servants of God.”
Washing the feet of little girls–sweet though it may be–does not have quite the same symbolic power.
SELECTED [OUT OF 33] COMMENTS
Don’t start me on the female altar servers mistake. Yes, without being a raving heretic or sedevacantist, I can call it a mistake. The Pope is guaranteed infallibility, but this is very clearly defined and does not mean that every single thing a particular Pope says is infallible, nor does it mean that every liturgical change a particular Pope permits is infallible or written in stone. There are many good, orthodox Catholics, including a priests I know personally, who believe, with clearly reasoned arguments, that the permission to use female altar servers was a grave mistake. I believe that one day that decision will be reversed. In the meantime, it in no way excuses people from the Church rule regarding the Washing of the Feet. For several important reasons the Washing can only be done to men. –Veritas
What was the mistake? I thought it was approved by Pope John Paul II. -Will
Will, disagreeing with something a Pope has allowed is a very sensitive topic. One group see you as a heretic who challenges Church teaching, the other group see you as a sedevacantist – someone who thinks the present Popes are illegitimate. I can assure you I am neither. I believe absolutely in Papal Infallibility.
However, this is a very carefully defined dogma and does NOT mean that everything a particular Pope does, says or allows is correct. For example, Pope Alexander VI was, I believe, an absolute disgrace and an embarrassment for Catholics. His personal life was by any moral standards, appalling. If I had lived at his time I hope I would have been brave enough to join vocal opposition to his lifestyle. However, I also believe that God totally protected him from formally teaching any heresy. The Church was protected by Papal Infallibility.
I greatly admire Pope John-Paul II. The example of living faith he showed us by the way he handled his physical decline and death was beautiful. However I believe he allowed several things to become established that were a mistake. One of these changes was the introduction of female altar servers. -Veritas
Thanks for this post, Father, here’s another good one that goes along with yours:
Q. Can the priest wash women’s feet on Holy Thursday?
A. According to the Sacramentary, “The men [vir] who have been chosen are led by the ministers to chairs prepared in a suitable place. Then the priest (removing his chasuble if necessary) goes to each man. With the help of the ministers, he pours water over each one’s feet and dries them.”
In 1988 the Congregation for Divine Worship reaffirmed that only men’s feet are supposed to be washed: “The washing of the feet of chosen men [vir] which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the service and charity of Christ, who came ‘not to be served, but to serve’ (Matthew 20:28). This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained.”–Paschales Solemnitatis, 51. In both cases the Latin word vir is used which means that men is not referring to mankind but only to males. Therefore, only men may have their feet washed on Holy Thursday. The practice of having the congregation wash each other’s feet is also not allowed as the instruction refers only to the priest as the washer of feet. – Erika
What makes the situation “muddier” as Jimmy Akin posted back in 2005 is that Cardinal O’Malley was permitted to do this — http://jimmyakin.com/2005/03/quo_vadis_viri_.html. Mark Shea (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2012/04/women-and-footwashing.html) points to the USCCB website which indicates it is permitted (http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/triduum/holy-thursday-mandatum.cfm). It bothers me that my own parish does this, but knowing that this matter can be argued from both sides makes me not want to even say anything.- Tom Grelinger
Apparently, Pope Francis has a different opinion on the matter. –James,
March 28, 2013
[This last post was made TODAY. All the other (32) comments were posted between April 2 and 7, 2012]
Popes, like dads, don’t have a choice in the matter
March 28, 2013
Pope and dads set examples whether they want to or not. If I have dessert despite not having finished my supper, my kids do not experience that family rule as something presumably oriented to their welfare, but rather, as an imposition to be borne until they, too, are old enough to make and break the rules. Now, none will dispute that Pope Francis has, by washing the feet of women at his Holy Thursday Mass, set an example. The question is, what kind of example has he set?
As a matter of substance, I have long questioned the cogency of arguments that the Mandatum rite should be limited to adult males (a point lost on Michael Sean Winters in his recent nutty over a Mandatum-related post by Fr. Z that linked to my writings on the subject). But I have never doubted that liturgical law expressly limits participation in that rite to adult males, and I have consistently called on Catholics, clerics and laity alike, to observe this pontifically-promulgated law in service to the unity (dare I say, the catholicity) of liturgy (c. 837). Pope Francis’ action today renders these arguments moot. Not wrong, mind. Moot.
By disregarding his own law in this matter, Francis violates, of course, no divine directive, nor does he — to anticipate an obvious question — achieve the abrogation of a law which, as it happens, I would not mind seeing abrogated. What he does do, I fear, is set a questionable example at Supper time.
We’re not talking here about, say, eschewing papal apartments or limousines or fancy footwear. None of those matters were the objects of law, let alone of laws that bind countless others.
(Personally, I find Francis’ actions in these areas inspiring although, granted, I do not have to deal with complications for others being caused by the pope’s simplicity).
Rather, re the Mandatum rite, we’re talking about a clear, unambiguous, reasonable (if not entirely compelling or suitable) liturgical provision, compliance with which has cost many faithful pastors undeserved ill-will from many quarters, and contempt for which has served mostly as a ‘sacrament of disregard’ for Roman rules on a variety of other matters. Today, whether he wanted to, or not, Francis set the Catholic world an example, about solidarity with outcasts, certainly, and about regard for liturgy.
A final thought: we live in antinomian times. One of the odd things about antinomianism (a condition that, by the way, does not always imply ill-will in its adherents though it usually implies a lack of understanding on their part) is that antinomianism makes reform of law not easier but harder: why bother undertaking the necessary but difficult reform of law when it’s easier simply to ignore it?
It’s a question with reverberations well beyond those of a foot-washing rite.
March 29, 2013, 9:00 am
For a more detailed examination of information compiled prior to March 28, 2013, please read
WASHING THE FEET OF WOMEN ON HOLY THURSDAY