Friday, March 29, 2013

How Could He?!

Well, he can because, um - he's POPE!  Contrary to some reports, Pope Francis did not break "Canon Law" in performing the foot washing ceremony on Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday).  It is true that this action was contrary to the tradition of the Church, but this was not a Sacrament.  The non-sacramental ritual is traditionally performed on twelve men selected from the congregation because the first time this was done there were twelve men, and only The Twelve, the Apostles.   Does this mean this ceremony can only involve men?  Well, that conclusion is more of an assumption than a given.  
The community in which Jesus washed feet was in the community of His Apostles.  The community in which Pope Francis washed feet was in a juvenile detention center which houses both male and female.  To separate the females in this community could have carried a message of segregation which Pope Francis did not wish to convey.
Many radical Traditionalists (RadTrads) are all up in arms about this, stating it is indicative of the Pope having an agenda to ordain women to the priesthood.  Some may even be accusing the Pope of heresy, but there is no heresy in breaking with this tradition.  Essentially, those who argue negatively about Pope Francis' action are on a slippery slope if they conclude heresy over this non-sacramental ceremony.
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.”  Salt Lake Tribune 
This was not the first time Francis had washed female feet. As Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio and archbishop of Buenos Aires, he often included women in the gesture. However as pope, his move was quietly groundbreaking. In their later years John Paul II and Benedict XVI had restricted the rite to 12 Catholic priests.   The Guardian 
The Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope's decision was "absolutely licit" for a rite that is not a church sacrament. Francis also took into account "the real situation, the community where one celebrates," Lombardi added.

This is moving. Jesus, washing the feet of his disciples. Peter didn’t understood it at all, he refused. But Jesus explained it for him. Jesus — God — did this! He himself explains to his disciples: “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord — and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (Jn 13:12-15).It is the Lord’s example: he is the most important, and he washes feet, because with us what is highest must be at the service of others. This is a symbol, it is a sign, right? Washing feet means: “I am at your service”. And with us too, don’t we have to wash each other’s feet day after day? But what does this mean? That all of us must help one another. Sometimes I am angry with someone or other ... but... let it go, let it go, and if he or she asks you a favour, do it.    L'Osservatore Romano
As I have been telling others - let us not rush to judgment of this pope.  Is it a break with tradition?  Yes.  Was this a matter of heresy?  No.,3458073.0.html


  1. Honestly, I didn't understand what all the bruhaha was all about. Our pastor has always included at least one woman in his twelve. I assumed that was the way it was done--I didn't know it was supposed to be only 12 men, traditionally. As a convert, I didn't know any better and it didn't seem like a problem. I cannot see how this could be an indicator for allowing women to the priesthood; I think that may be reading too much into what the pope did. They are kids and the pope performed an act of humility and compassion--both virtues we need more of in this world.

  2. Well, it is not the first time it has been done, but he is the first pope to do it.


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