Appropos the liturgical abuse that regularly occurs on Holy Thursday in so many places… this is in from the Herald Tribune in Florida.
His Excellency Most Rev. Frank Dewayne of the Diocese of Venice in Florida has told priests that if they are going to wash feet, they must be male feet.
My emphases and comments.
A gender debate on foot washing
By Todd Ruger
Published: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 29, 2010 at 11:14 p.m.
SARASOTA COUNTY – In a move that brings a national debate home to Southwest Florida Catholic churches, Bishop Frank Dewane has reminded priests that only men should have their feet washed during a pre-Easter ceremony.
Many Catholic priests in Southwest Florida have customarily [Perhaps they also want to claim it is okay because it is a "custom". But it is contrary to the Church's repeated rubrics and clarifications.] washed the feet of male and female parishioners on the Thursday before Easter in a symbol of humbly serving others.
Dewane, who became bishop in 2006, has garnered a reputation for bringing a more hands-on and conservative interpretation of church rules than his predecessor to his role as shepherd of 250,000 Catholics in Southwest Florida.
In the past, he has banned speakers on abortion from his churches, and last month he threatened to ex-communicate Catholics who went to a ceremony to install women as priests. [Did he? Good for him!]
Dewane sent his "Rules of the Road" [is that what it is really called?] letter to churches on Friday for the series of Masses and events leading up to Easter, and it included the foot washing clarification, the diocese said.
"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," the letter read, quoting church rules.
The letter goes on to explain that women were included once, [and should not have been] but that was a special case and does not indicate a change in policy.
In response, some priests called the bishop with concerns about having to change their church’s ritual and exclude women, the diocese said. [I bet they did!]
Dewane’s letter was sent in response to questions about church policy on the washing of feet, and was not meant as an edict "from on high," diocese spokesman Bob Reddy said. [It is just a clarification of what has already come from on REALLY High.]
"It does not tell them they have to use men only, this week or ever," Reddy said. "It’s just saying, priests want to know what the rules are, this is what the rules are." [HUH? Is there a special school that diocesan spokesmen go to for this?]
The bishop’s letter further fuels an ongoing national controversy over the inclusion of women in the foot-washing ceremony.
[Now... pay attention to this profoundly blinkered view of the issue, noting especially the enormous winged canard...] "I don’t know why men’s feet are more worthy than women’s," said Alice Campanella of Voice of The Faithful in Boston, [embarrassing, isn't it?] where Archbishop Sean O’Malley upset many Catholic women in 2005 by inviting only men to participate in the Holy Thursday ritual. [Perhaps upset many women who are less than clear about their Catholic identity? I am sure it wasn't because the Cardinal was rude about it. I bet he bent over backward in pretzel-like twists to be kind about it.]
The church rules state that the priest will pour water on the feet of "men who have been chosen" [viri selecti] and then dry them, an imitation of Jesus’s washing of the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper.
However, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops acknowledges that it is customary in many places to invite men and women to be participants. [That doesn't make it okay to do.]
The Vatican told O’Malley he could wash women’s feet, as is the practice of many priests, the Boston Globe reported at the time. [I doubt that permission has been reiterated, however. And it was local, and for him. No?]
Dewane’s letter to his priests Friday referenced that decision, but added that "it was for a particular case and does not represent a change." [Exactly.]
"This letter is not saying they can’t," Reddy said. "He said, if I wanted only men, I would state ‘therefore, I want only men.’" [HUH?]
The role of women in church practices has been a constant issue for the Catholic church. Polls show that about two-thirds of U.S. Catholics believe women should be ordained, an increase of 20 percent over similar polls in the 1980s. [Sorry.]
In a Pew Research Center survey, the treatment of women in the church was cited by 39 percent of former Catholics as part of the reason they left. [Thus putting their souls in peril of eternal separation from God.]
Attempts to reach several local priests and officials at local churches for comment were unsuccessful.