NOVEMBER 20, 2015
A closed letter to Pope Francis now open – Fr. Conrad Saldanha
September 22, 2014/November 20, 2015
The following letter was written in September of 2014 after having waited for a year to see some changes in the action of the Pope. Unfortunately, even when this letter was sent, there has been no response from either the Pope or from the curia. Since the present trend in the church is reflected in what is addressed by the author in this letter and in the absence of a response, not only to this letter but on many serious issues concerning the abuse of power by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, it has compelled me to now address things in the open. I write so that many are cautioned and warned about the error at work, the man of lawlessness which the scriptures speak about, in the church of Christ, may be exposed.
His Holiness Pope Francis
Vatican City State – 00120
I wanted to write to you last year itself when I heard and saw on the news channel your action of breaking from liturgical norms and washing the feet of the sick and the infirmed. The world media gave much acclaim to your act and many seem to have been much impressed and touched by your action.
I presumed that quite a few people and some theologians reacted to this your act, of washing of the feat, last year on Maundy Thursday and hence I did not persevere with my act, of service of love, in the footsteps of our divine Lord and teacher, towards you.
Because I also presumed that at least the college of Cardinal or your curia or the group of Bishops all over the world who live out their collegiality with you, to whom primarily belongs the role of washing the feet with you, may have at least made attempts at washing your feet, if not done by the chosen 8* Cardinals of your inner circle. (*at that time I presumed that there were 8 advisers)
Since a year has gone by and the scripture and doctrine of the church is once again freely interpreted and put into action, may be with unjustifiable good intention, therefore permit me, your humble servant, to wash the feet of the servant of the servant of Christ. In doing so I am not seeking a reward but I am compelled by the mandate of Christ to do so. My past experiences of putting into practice this mandate of Christ with my superiors and colleagues have resulted in a trample; like pearls cast at swine (Mt. 7:6). Yet I must do so out of necessity for the sake of the gospel of Christ (cfr. I Cor. 9:16). In doing so I am not seeking to wash your feet in public as some would want to wash their dirty linen, as I am still part of the community which Christ has established here on earth.
It seems to me that the feet who are supposed to preach the good news are no longer beautiful (cfr. Is. 52:7; Rom. 10:15) because those entrusted with it are abusing it when they fail in their duty to correct their brothers when they are in the wrong (cfr. Col. 3:16; I Thess. 5:11 &14)
The starting Point: The washing of the feet is neither an act of indiscriminate service nor is it primarily an act of humble service.
A close look at the Johannine narration reveals a different picture and could make indiscriminate abuse of the rubrics on Maundy Thursday look like a sacrilege.
It is a corruption of the doctrine of Christ and what He intended when one purely interprets that the washing of the feet is a ceremony that invites the followers of Christ to humble service and then gets involved in all kinds of services except the one primarily intended by Jesus of his beloved disciples.
The action of Christ is clearly an action of love towards HIS OWN (Jn. 13:1) beloved disciples and to no one else at that moment; a symbolic action in order to communicate a clear farewell message. Hence this farewell message is to be understood in the post resurrection farewell message of Matthew’s (Mt. 28:20) and Mark’s (Mk. 16:15-16) gospel, while in the gospel of John it has a pre-resurrection basis in the midst of the community of dedicated disciples.
HIS OWN are those who have accepted his word, thus allowing themselves to be cleansed by it; men who enter the church through the cleansing water of baptism (water sanctified by the Word of Christ).
The primary message of the washing of the foot text is that of the love of Jesus Christ and that too within the context of the Christian community consisting of his beloved disciples.
Besides, Jesus restricted himself to his beloved disciples and hence it was again not an indiscriminate choice of anyone but the beloved ones whom he loved, even to the end. (Jn. 13:1)
The Johannine text (John 13: 1-15) reveals to us that the love that Jesus manifests overflows into a symbolic action and that action takes on a strict meaning: a service of the word and with the word. (cfr. Mt. 18: 15-17)
The washing of the feet was only an external symbolic action that reveals to us that He, the Lord and teacher, (vss. 14-15) is washing their feet and not any ordinary human being and the Apostles are to imitate the same Lord and TEACHER.
In other words a service can be performed by a farmer, an officer or manager or the boss and each may be a service and each one in service yet each are different in the things that are served. Here in the gospel text it is the Lord and teacher who does it and not any other kind of servant and, that too, as a final parting message. Hence a servant here must substantially serve the same ware as his certified qualification entitles him to, viz. Lord and Teacher.
The priest as leader (Lord) of the community and its teacher is supposed to wash the feet of the disciples and of all those who are to be added to the body of Christ through the word of Christ. “Therefore it will be necessary to guard oneself from any form that tends de facto to weaken the leadership of the parish priest, because the very structure of the parish community would be distorted.” (Para #5:3 ADDRESS OF St. JOHN PAUL II the great TO THE PLENARY SESSION OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE CLERGY , Friday 23 November 2001)
Canon #519: “The parish priest is the proper pastor of the parish entrusted to him. He exercises the pastoral care of the community entrusted to him under the authority of the diocesan Bishop, whose ministry of Christ he is called to share, so that for this community he may carry out the offices of TEACHING, Categories: Uncategorized