“absolutely licit”…. MY FOOT!

Spotted on the Facebook page of Ed Peters, canonist.

Every time I turn around, someone is citing Fr. Lombardi’s comment that the pope’s washing of women’s feet on Holy Thursday is “absolutely licit” because it’s not a sacrament. Now, whatever one might finally conclude about the liceity of the pope’s action, it simply CANNOT be defended on the grounds that Lombardi uses.

Consider: the homily is not a sacrament (obviously); the homily is optional at weekday Masses (c. 767 § 3); the homily is reserved to clerics (c. 767 § 1). Okay? So, if a priest decides, as a gesture of charity and to model Christ’s inclusivity, to allow a woman (well, any lay person) to preach the homily at a weekday Mass, is his action suddenly licit? And don’t tell us this does not really happen.

Where did the “absolutely licit” thing come from? People have sent email asking about this.  Here’s the deal.

There was a briefing of journalists in Rome by the papal spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, about the Holy Week ceremonies.  The issue of the washing of the feet of women came up, of course.

Lombardi’s remarks include the phrase (in translation)…

I would not make a big theory of this. I say: it is a pastoral reading of this event which I believe to be absolutely licit (legitimate?) and also present in the Church….

Okay… it is unclear what is “absolutely licit” in Lombardi’s remarks.  More below. But I think he is talking about Pope Francis choice to flout the rubrics of Holy Mass which all bishops and priests are obliged to follow.

On the site of Vatican Radio, there is a summary of the briefing including extensive quotes from Fr. Lombardi’s remarks.  Have a look at the original… because we don’t want to get this wrong or misrepresent him (emphasis mine):

“la regola classica della tradizione liturgica è di uomini, pensando ai dodici apostoli e quindi al fatto che la lavanda dei piedi la fa Gesù, nel Cenacolo, ai suoi dodici apostoli, che notoriamente erano uomini. Allora in questo senso la tradizione vuole che siano dodici uomini… La pratica pastorale nella Chiesa dei pastori che hanno l’“odore delle pecore” – come sappiamo – è che si tiene anche molto in conto la situazione concreta, diciamo la comunità per cui e in cui si celebra e il significato che questo gesto, che non è un sacramento della Chiesa, ma è un rito significativo, inserito anche nella Liturgia, ma che non è codificato da leggi fondamentali della Chiesa, si possa vivere a seconda del significato pastorale che assume. Tanto è vero, mi pare, che abbiamo visto anche per il passato delle foto del cardinale Bergoglio, arcivescovo di Buenos Aires, che fa la lavanda dei piedi con anche delle donne. Quindi non è una cosa inventata ieri in particolare. Credo che molti di noi, che hanno una certa esperienza pastorale in diverse situazioni o di gruppi giovanili o altro, hanno usato questa interpretazione molte volte nel corso della loro vita pastorale. Quindi qui si tratta di una comunità, dove era ieri il Papa, una comunità piccola, non era la Cattedrale di San Giovanni con tutta la diocesi di Roma: era una comunità piccola, costituita in una parte importante da giovani e anche da giovani ragazze, in cui il gesto della lavanda dei piedi aveva un ruolo molto importante nell’evento e nel suo significato di presentare e far sperimentare lo spirito di servizio e di amore del Signore a questa comunità, che è una comunità che capisce le cose anche molto essenziale e semplici, perché non erano studiosi di Liturgia. In questo senso è stato – mi sembra – del tutto normale che nel gruppo delle 12 persone che ricevevano la lavanda ci fossero anche due ragazze, perché è una componente importante – quella delle ragazze – della comunità che vive la sua esperienza nell’Istituto di Casal del Marmo. Siccome poi il criterio con cui erano stati scelti questi dodici era proprio di rappresentare anche le diverse etnie e le diverse componenti presenti nella comunità di Casal del Marmo, in questa comunità le ragazze sono una parte importante e quindi sarebbe stato strano che non fossero comprese in questo gruppo. Io non vorrei farne una grande teoria. Dico: è una lettura pastorale di questo evento che credo che sia assolutamente lecita e anche presente nella Chiesa e credo che fosse anche quella dell’esperienza dell’arcivescovo di Buenos Aires”.

The Italian is strange, even tortured.  This lead me to ask a Roman friend to help me out with the translation just so that I wasn’t posting something unfair.  Keep in mind that Fr. Lombardi is speaking off the cuff, not from a prepared statement.  He is probably getting mixed signals from different offices of the Curia.  He probably has his own views which he is more or less struggling to hide even while revealing them…. so… here is the translation with a couple additions for clarity (and my emphases):

“the classic norm of the liturgical tradition is of men, thinking of the twelve Apostles and thus of the fact that it is Jesus who does the washing of the feet, in the Cenacle, to his twelve Apostles, who were men, obviously. Then in this sense tradition wants it to be twelve men… The pastoral practice in the Church of the shepherds who have “the odour of the sheep” – as we know – is that the concrete situation is taken very much into account, shall we say the community for which and in which one celebrates and the meaning that such gesture  – which is not a Sacrament of the Church,  but a meaningful rite inserted also in the Liturgy, yet one not codified by fundamental laws of the Church – can be lived in keeping with the pastoral meaning that it takes (in a given context). This is so true, it seems to me, that we have seen also in the past photographs of Cardinal Bergoglio, (then) Archbishop of Buenos Aires, doing the washing of the feet including women. Therefore it was not something that was invented yesterday in particular. I believe that many of us who have a certain pastoral experience in a variety of situations either of youth groups or else have used this interpretation many times over the course of their pastoral life. Therefore we are speaking of a community, where the Pope was yesterday, a small community, it was not the Cathedral of St. John with the whole diocese of Rome: it was a small community,  for an important part made of youth and also young girls, where the gesture of the washing of the feet had a very important role in the event and in its meaning of showing the spirit of service and love of the Lord and to let this community experience it, a community that understands things that are very essential (singular declension in the original Italian: a typo?) and simple (plural in the original), since they were not experts of Liturgy. In this sense it seems to me  that it was completely normal that there would be also two girls in the group of 12 people who received the washing of the feet, because that of girls is an important component of the community that lives it experience in the Institute of Casal del Marmo. Moreover, since the criterion with which these twelve (people) were chosen was precisely that of being representative also of the diverse ethnicities and components present in the community of Casal del Marmo, in this community girls are an important part and therefore it would have been strange not to include them in this group.  I would not make a big theory of this. I say: it is a pastoral reading of this event which I believe to be absolutely licit (legitimate?) and also present in the Church and I believe it was also that of the experience of the (then) Archbishop of Buenos Aires”.

?!?

“classic norm” and “tradition” v. “pastoral practice” and “concrete situation”?

“yet one not codified by fundamental laws of the Church”?  It IS codifed!  In the rubric of the Missale Romanum in force now.  It was explained in the Congregation for Divine Worship’s document Paschale solemnitatis 51. The Congregation has answered questions about the practice.

At the end of this, I repeat…

We can flout the rubrics anytime we want for the sake of a sentimental motive … MY FOOT.

Just because the Pope did something in some ceremony which, apparently because it was small and in a jail, mattered a lot to the inmates but I guess didn’t really change anything for the rest us – except for the fact that the Pope did it and it was ballyhooed by the powers that be all over the world, that doesn’t mean that any bishop or priest can take upon himself to change the clear and important rubrics of Mass…. any rubrics.

NB: To the liberals reading this who have already spread the falsehood that people like me,  or Peters, because we write about this, are obsessed with the washing of women’s feet or are mired in the minutiae of liturgical rules, I respond: There is a bigger issue which you, apparently, can’t figure out because you are almost always wrong about almost everything.   Have a nice day!  o{]:¬)

“absolutely licit”…. MY FOOT!
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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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55 Responses to “absolutely licit”…. MY FOOT!

  1. persyn says:

    Well done, Fr. Z. As is usually the case, I find your conclusion to be “on the money”. As for the fact that it happened: Kyrie, eleison.

  2. VexillaRegis says:

    Fr. Lombardi: Blah blah blah – PC language – blah blah – clichées – blah blah – blah.

  3. THREEHEARTS says:

    Mr Peters is absolutely wrong
    Read in John’s Gospel the answer of the soon to be Christian Catholic Pope. Read Peter 1st’s Answer to Christ’s words. I mean the promise you will not be with Me in Paradise if you do not let Me wash your feet. If that is not a promise to a Jew that his inherited sin from Adam and all others would be removed then we have a problem. It was a Baptism for all the Apostles, even for Judas Iscariot. Like Adam, Judas did not repent and look at the rest of their lives. Before you all criticize think of it this way, the Church neither teaches nor does She comment on Peter’s words. How can She? The Pope, our first Pope had already made his infallible feelings known, “Wash me all over then Lord”.

  4. Choirmaster says:

    [T]he fact that the Pope did it […] doesn’t mean that any bishop or priest can take upon himself to change the clear and important rubrics of Mass…. any rubrics.

    Doesn’t it? I am afraid it does, indeed, mean just that! Maybe not in a strict, stuffy, legal sense, but that is what is under attack here. It is going to be an uphill fight with no hope of victory in sight, unless, of course, we can count on divine intervention.

    This is all very confusing for me since I would rather not be put in a position where it is necessary to fight against my own Holy Father. It is also frustrating because there is a certain faction within the Church that I am comfortable fighting against, yet they are certainly not suffering from confusion following the actions of our new Pope.

    As to Father Lombardi’s remarks, I do not recognize a dichotomy, or even an antagonistic relationship, between the pastoral and the liturgical; that one must break the liturgical law in order to allow truth and charity to flow freely (i.e. “be pastoral”). Abuse of the liturgy is uncharitable and contrary to evangelization in every case. I do not think that the actions of a Pope must need be inherently non-abusive simply because we have no procedural, earthly recourse against them.

  5. Bob B. says:

    America magazine is all over this, too – of course, they don’t quite get it either….

  6. Lucas Whittaker says:

    Not to beat a dead horse here but, what the Holy Father did was to make an empty shell out of love to be filled with subjective opinions and emotionalism. No favor was objectively done for the young men and women to whom “kindness” was meant to be shown. Accountablity is important, which is why I keep stressing that Pope Francis needs to make public amends for this error: How else will the unhealthy speculation surrounding this event stop? For those who might suggest that I and others like me should just “get over it”, or some other similar notion of pretending that this didn’t happen, I can only say that this abuse of rubrics at a cost to truth and charity will go on to cause damage in many circles until the Holy Father steps forward to make amends to those in the Church who love the liturgy because they see it as the height of expression for our faith in Jesus. If he can call back home to cancel his newpaper then he should certainly take responsiblity for these oversights of the rubrics and speak to them publically. Father Lombardi should not have to read a cover story in this instance. The sacraments are key to the way that the Church hands on the message of the gospel and so it stands to reason that they should be done well with an eye toward the years of Tradition. I truly hope that we aren’t left to “forget” that this ever happened, because such an expectation would be manipulative and unhealthy. We need our father to lead us to the understanding that the gospel call to truth in charity must touch every aspect of our lives.

    And if the Holy Father believes that he is justified in his oversight of the rubrics then he should tell us so in his own words. Let us begin with honesty even if we are not on the same page so that we build this new relationship with the new Pope on the solid ground of truth, even if we must settle for subjective truth at this time. Please, Holy Father, do not leave us to forget the mixed signals that you sent out to the world on Holy Thursday by neglecting to follow the rubrics that exist to impart a theological meaning that stretches back to the time of Jesus himself. The Holy Father has my prayers as he struggles to embrace his role as Father to the entire world of men and women whom God calls to faith in his only-begotten Son, Jesus. We need a strong Father who will help us to believe the words which Blessed Pope John Paul spoke to us, “Be not afraid.”

  7. Lucas Whittaker says:

    Thank you, Father Z, for taking the time to make this translation available to us. Thank you for giving to us a place where we can discuss these important issues. You also have my prayers as we face, as you have mentioned elsewhere, an uncertain future hre in America. Let us hope for the best and entrust the rest to God who cares for us.

  8. David in T.O. says:

    Two points.

    First, with all respect to our Holy Father, he can attend to that institution any day of the year other than Holy Thursday to wash the feet of anyone whom he chooses. The fact that he did it in the Mass is the problem.

    Second point. The obfuscation from the Vatican contiues with this quote from Father Tom Rosica, linked below. “It is a gesture of humility and service” Father Tom Rosica, a Vatican Press Office spokesperson, said before the ceremony.

    “It teaches that liberation and new life are won not in presiding over multitudes from royal thrones nor by the quantity of bloody sacrifices offered on temple altars, but by walking with the lowly and poor and serving them as foot-washer along the journey,” he added.

    Therefore, was it “spontaneous” as Fr. Rosica said in an official statement in English or was it planned, since he gave this interview with NBC “before the ceremony.”

    Which is it?

    Where is the truth?

    http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/28/17502522-pope-washes-feet-of-young-detainees-in-holy-thursday-ritual?lite

  9. ocalatrad says:

    @THREEHEARTS.
    I’m at a loss as to how exactly Mr. Peters is wrong. The Pope did something illicit according to the law on the books which the Church has every right to enact. Fr. Lombardi was inaccurate in his reply to the press corps. I think this is pretty black and white.

  10. gracie says:

    I’ve been reading the commentary in the “Ignatius Catholic Study Bible” which says that foot washing may be a sign of priestly ordination, as in the Old Testament, and refers to Exodus 40: 12, 30-32:

    “Then bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the meeting tent and wash them with water . . . (Moses) placed the laver between the meeting tent and the altar, and put water in it for washing. Moses and Aaron and his sons used to wash their hands and feet there, for they washed themselves whenever they went into the meeting tent, or approached the altar, as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

    The commentary continues, “Against this background, Jesus washing Peter and the disciples parallels the scene of Moses washing Aaron and his sons on the day of their consecration to the priesthood” and references Leviticus 8: 6:

    “Bringing forward Aaron and his sons, he first washed them with water.”

    Likewise, the apostles receiving a “part” in Jesus – “Peter said to him, ‘You shall never wash my feet’. Jesus answers him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part in me'” – recalls how the Levites (priests) had their “portion” in God alone (Num 18: 20 and Deut 10: 9).

    If the foot washing is a sign of priestly ordination, then it is incorrect to be using it in other contexts. In fact, the only context in which to do this ritual, imho, would be if the bishop were to wash the feet of seminarians prior to his saying the words of ordination over them. *That* would be following the example of Jesus Christ. Some people seem to be aware of this, which makes understandable comments I have read that this is opening the doors to the possibility of a female priesthood. The liberals aren’t dummies and *get* the connection even if the rest of us are saying it isn’t so.

  11. oldcanon2257 says:

    THREEHEARTS says:
    2 April 2013 at 11:32 am

    Mr Peters is absolutely wrong
    Read in John’s Gospel the answer of the soon to be Christian Catholic Pope. Read Peter 1st’s Answer to Christ’s words. I mean the promise you will not be with Me in Paradise if you do not let Me wash your feet. If that is not a promise to a Jew that his inherited sin from Adam and all others would be removed then we have a problem. It was a Baptism for all the Apostles, even for Judas Iscariot. Like Adam, Judas did not repent and look at the rest of their lives. Before you all criticize think of it this way, the Church neither teaches nor does She comment on Peter’s words. How can She? The Pope, our first Pope had already made his infallible feelings known, “Wash me all over then Lord”.

    THREEHEARTS,

    Forgive me for I am slow (and please forgive me, Father Z, for I’m not trying to dig a rabbit hole), but I still don’t get the point(s) you’re trying to make.

    The exact wordings from John 13:6-9 are as followed:

    [6] He cometh therefore to Simon Peter. And Peter saith to him: Lord, dost thou wash my feet? [7] Jesus answered, and said to him: What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. [8] Peter saith to him: Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him: If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me. [9] Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.

    Are you trying to say that the infallible teaching by Saint Peter the Apostle is that those whose feet, hands and head aren’t washed personally by Our Lord are not going to be in paradise, literally? In that case, besides the 11 original Apostles (not counting Judas Iscariot), nobody else is going there?

    How does your statement relate to and/or prove that Dr. Ed Peters is wrong in his opinion about Father Lombardi’s “absolutely licit” comment?

  12. mamajen says:

    Yeah, that explanation is really, really weak. The more they try to justify it, the clearer it becomes that it was a dumb idea to ignore the law instead of formally changing it first, or simply doing it outside of mass. It will never convince me that Pope Francis is a raging heretic intent on dismantling the Church, but I can see now that it was a baaaddd idea. Personally, having thought about it a great deal, I would definitely like to see the law stay exactly as it is when done in the context of the mass. Outside of the mass they may more widely interpret Jesus’ message about charity/humility. The mass is an imitation of what Christ did, not a creative interpretation.

  13. pbewig says:

    Have you ever seen a rookie shortstop throw to the wrong base? He’s twenty-four years old, has been playing organized baseball since he was seven, and certainly knows which base to throw the ball to (so does every fan in the stands). But he’s a rookie, and he knows there is a greater observance of him than of the veteran ballplayers, so he acts on instinct instead of intellect, he knows that he has to throw the ball now, and throws the ball to the wrong base.

    We have a rookie Pope. Let him learn before getting too critical of his actions.

  14. Anchorite says:

    VexillaRegis,
    Your translation was perfect! What a load of …
    Fr. Lombardi should be hired by OB’s White House!

  15. BLB Oregon says:

    So the answer is that while not any bishop in general could do this, let alone any priest, the Pope has the authority to give himself dispensation from this particular rubric because he is the Pope and this is a case in which he can do as he sees fit without violation of the laws binding him? He does have the authority to give himself a one-time dispensation without filing paperwork with himself, let alone with anyone else, isn’t that correct?

    Honestly, I do not understand why I keep hearing about the washing of women’s feet at this Mass and nothing about the washing of the feet of the unbaptized. Surely the leap from the baptized to the unbaptized is a greater leap than the leap from male laypersons to female laypersons? Truly, doesn’t the choice of context alone say very clearly that this dispensation of rubrics by Pope cannot possibly have anything on earth to do with ordaining anybody? He washed the feet of Muslims, and of course he is not remotely considering the ordination of the unbaptized. He’s not going to start ordaining young men who are still serving their sentences for crimes for which they were convicted in court. for that matter. In the context–that is, that he has very obviously not selected those to have their feet washed, male or female, as his next ordination class–I think someone would have to have inhaled an awful lot of pink smoke to draw the conclusion that this action had anything whatsoever to do with ordination of women. I can’t imagine the actual young people who had their feet washed thought any such thing.

    What the Pope meant by this may not be as clear as we’d like, but what he did not mean by this ought to be very clear. Let us not take the conjectures of those with false agendas so seriously that we allow them to make one iota more of this than it is. It only encourages them.

  16. mamajen says:

    @BLB Oregon

    Good point. If there is one thing I’ve learned from this it’s that some people are very selective with their outrage.

  17. Joe in Canada says:

    The American Bishops themselves said, in 1987: Because the gospel of the mandatum read on Holy Thursday also depicts Jesus as the “Teacher and Lord” who humbly serves his disciples by performing this extraordinary gesture which goes beyond the laws of hospitality,2 the element of humble service has accentuated the celebration of the foot washing rite in the United States over the last decade or more. In this regard, it has become customary in many places to invite both men and women to be participants in this rite in recognition of the service that should be given by all the faithful to the Church and to the world. Thus, in the United States, a variation in the rite developed in which not only charity is signified but also humble service.
    While this variation may differ from the rubric of the Sacramentary which mentions only men (“viri selecti”), it may nevertheless be said that the intention to emphasize service along with charity in the celebration of the rite is an understandable way of accentuating the evangelical command of the Lord, “who came to serve and not to be served,” that all members of the Church must serve one another in love. http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/triduum/holy-thursday-mandatum.cfm
    I think kissing a Koran was worse.

  18. shepherd says:

    I read that when Cardinal O’Malley wanted to include women in the Mandatum that he was given permission by the Congregation for the Sacraments (excuse abbrev). And it said that although the obligation to follow the rubric remained any bishop might change it according to pastoral need. Is this correct? Also, is Canon Law always above the Pope? I only ask because I would like clarification.

  19. iowapapist says:

    Fr. Lombardi seems to speak of “The pastoral practice in the Church of the shepherds who have ‘the odour of the sheep’ “. We have all seen “shepherds” who are conspicuously “humble” and demonstrate this humility by receiving communion after the EM’s, or after every other person attending Mass. Those who demonstrate humility in this fashion are not truly humble, for if they were, they would be obedient to the that which they have vowed to be. I have no personal experience (albeit on the farm) with the pastoral “odour of the sheep”, but something certainly stinks here. Perhaps the smell of goats?

  20. TNCath says:

    There goes that word, echoing in my ear again! Jesuitical, Jesuitical, Jesuitical…I have never been impressed by Fr. Lombardi. I am even less so no

    I don’t suppose Cardinal Canizares will be weighing in on this anytime soon, either. And Cardinal Burke has been conspicuously absent since the election of this pope. Had the Holy Father been at St. John Lateran (or even St. Peter’s) on Holy Thursday and had waited to visit the prison on Divine Mercy Sunday none of this would have happened. This is what happens when you start to buck tradition and rules. I agree that Pope Francis does need to learn “how to be Pope.” I wonder how long (and if) that will take to happpen?

    Your commentary was well spoken, Fr. Z.

    Oremus pro Pontifice…

  21. BLB Oregon says:

    –“Doesn’t it? I am afraid it does, indeed, mean just that! Maybe not in a strict, stuffy, legal sense, but that is what is under attack here. It is going to be an uphill fight with no hope of victory in sight, unless, of course, we can count on divine intervention”–

    Here we are again, with the “legal” sense being “strict” and “stuffy”. What kind of obedience is it that does not allow those who truly have the authority to dispense with rules to occasionally dispense with them? If the governor commutes a sentence or grants a pardon, does it bring the whole legal system down? If not, then why should it be expected to introduce total liturgical chaos when the Supreme Liturgist dispenses with a rubric that in theory could be changed so that it requires just what he is doing? It’s like those liberals who go around screaming that women are going to be forced to wear veils just because the Traditional Latin Mass is no longer being suppressed, or that all the faithful are going to be horribly confused because a new translation of the Mass is being promulgated. Fears like that come from the evil one, IMHO. They come from almost no basis and rarely have any good effect except to serve strife and mutual suspicion.

    The Pope can say “this is a one-time thing for which I gave myself a dispensation, and anyone wanting to do anything like it must have permission from the Holy See first.” It is that simple.

    But, people wail, the liberals will use this as an excuse to wash the feet of women!! They’ll use it as an excuse for having women ordained!! Those scofflaws you’re talking about are the people who were already washing women’s feet and attempting the ordination of women while Benedict XVI was Pope!! They faced automatic excommunication, and it didn’t even slow them down! Who should worry about what kind of nonsense they’re going to come up with, as if it has ever been rooted in any reality in the past? If they say that Pope Francis is their excuse, then they might be fairly asked what their excuse was when Pope Benedict was giving no permission of any sort, by word or example, and they did it, anyway! That kind does not even deserve to be listened to, and the fact that USA Today hangs on their every word cannot be helped by getting upset about it. Just cancel your subscription to USA Today, and keep moving.

  22. BLB Oregon says:

    I do wish the Vatican Press Office had simply said this: “The Holy Father has the authority to dispense himself in some cases from what is normally required by the rubrics. Suffice it to say that he knows where he can and cannot legally grant himself such a dispensation. The priests of the Church also know quite well that this authority is not delegated to them generally, that this one Mass cannot therefore be taken as permission to do the same, and that those who are not the Pope need to gain permission before doing likewise. No one who has been through seminary can pretend not to know this. Anyone who claims otherwise is as profoundly misguided as a police officer who imagines he can grant a legal pardon for a capital crime because he has seen the governor doing it.”

  23. Widukind says:

    Fr. Z., I like your “foot”note at the bottom in small print.
    Just a couple of things on my mind:
    1) Charity is a choice, while love is an emotion, and therefore subjective (we do not have to”like” anyone, but we must choose to be charitable to them.) Jesus chose to wash the feet of His apostles. He did not wash them because He simply liked them and wanted to show how much they were buddies. As Jesus chooses to wash their feet, there then must be a reason why He did so. There does not have to be any reason at all if it is just an emotional expression. So, what was Jesus’ reason? In other words, what truth was Jesus teaching us through this action?
    Therefore was the Pope’s action a charitable [a teaching moment about truth] one or just simply a loving [emotional] one? [Could an action be both charitable and loving? charitable and not loving? not charitable but loving? Is it to be of purpose or sentiment?]
    2) Perhaps some type of definitive study needs to be made about the tradition of “washing feet”.
    Too many “opinions” or “educated” guesses are being tossed around, by a myriad of “experts”. Whose statement hits closest to the truth and thus can be trusted? Defining or clarifying the purpose of the ritual action would go a long way in clearing up the “muddy waters” of foot washing.
    3) Perhaps we need to look at the connection between “humility” and “charity” What really is humility as it has always been defined as opposed to a “love of poverty” (for a “love” of something can so easily slide into a “worship” or “idolatry” of something).? Humility will always be charitable. Love does not always mean it is of humility. Then there is the connection between charity and fidelity. I believe its was P. Benedict who spoke about defending / teaching / admonishing of the truth as a charitable action (and thus a humble action). Faithfulness to the truth then does not become some kind of an opposing or/and excluding value (as what is being put forth now – that the traditional / liturgical / legal thing is actually opposed to what the loving thing to do is). Somewhere in this is where I see P. Francis missing the boat. If this washing of the feet were to ring true as a humble act, it would resound as a charitable action and as well have fidelity to the truth (law / tradition / etc.) Humility would never allow one to posit himself above / beyond the truth. To do so would reveal some kind of willfulness, selfishness, ignorance that one’s intentions still need to be purified of. Fidelity is to be the servant of humility, and humility that of fidelity, and all of which would be charitable.
    4) As regards Lombardi’s statements – is this a Jesuit trying to defend another Jesuit in a Jesuitical manner? It would seem to me that his sincerity could be questioned. Did he always defend P. Benedict with the same gusto, or is he showing his colors?

  24. Rev. Michael Church says:

    I’m a Lutheran, and among us rubrics do not have the force of law, so please bear with my ignorance here.

    I gather that the questions at stake here are (a) decency and order in the conduct of the liturgy, and (b) the principle that nobody — and most especially not the pope — can disobey ecclesiastical law. Good principles, and I wish my own tribe were more zealous for them. But that’s another story.

    My questions, both for Fr. Z and for other informed readers, are these: (i) if Francis does choose to abrogate the current liturgical law, what is the process for doing that? Can he do it by motu proprio, or does it need to go through a review by the appropriate Congregations? (ii) If he were to respond to this controversy by abrogating the law governing the Mandatum, would that pose a serious theological problem for any of you? (I gather Ed Peters has previously argued that this change, if made according to law, might be a good idea. Is that correct?)

  25. mamajen says:

    pbewig brings up an interesting point about “rookie mistakes”. An early report about the demographics of the group indicated that “the Vatican” was initially reluctant to the idea of including girls. Apparently the idea was suggested by the prison chaplain based on the fact that Pope Francis had washed the feet of women as a cardinal. “The Vatican” ultimately relented and decided to go forward with it. This according to the prison chaplain, Father Gaetano Greco.

    http://www.repubblica.it/esteri/2013/03/28/news/papa_francesco-giornata-lavanda-55510326/

    His past actions notwithstanding, maybe it is unfair to assume that this was all Pope Francis’ idea from the outset. In the end, though, he does get the final say and I think it’s unfortunate if he allowed himself to be pressured into this mess.

  26. Johnno says:

    We should just be honest and call this what it is:

    Pope Francis made a mistake.

    That’s okay. We all make mistakes despite having good intentions in mind. Certainly admitting it is a PR blunder that makes our new Pope seem disfavourable or the impression that he hasn’t any idea what he’s doing which will certainly come back to bite him later on. But he can cover this up by improving the way he does things.

    Pope John Paul II made his fair share of mistakes. So did Benedict XVI. So did Popes before them. And if we’re keeping score, the Pope Francis has yet to accumulate too many and in the grand scheme of things this is smaller than all the rest.

    Let us send Pope Francis the message that we want him to be a leader by example and support our efforts to rebuild the Church and Mass and Catholic discipline. And let us take the message he intended to heart to reach out to others and put aside ourselves. If we can show we’re doing what he asked, then surely he will take our desires to mind as well.

  27. O. Possum says:

    Ok, here’s my new theory: Pope Francis was just trying to be like Paul in 1 Cor. 9, and wanted to win the souls of the prisoners. Something like, “to the law-breakers, I became a law-breaker, so as to win law-breakers.” Thoughts? ;)

  28. Lucas Whittaker says:

    Rev. Michael Church: I may not have all of the the answers that you are looking for but I can point out what I believe to be at stake here.

    The Catholic Church is our mother: she cares for us like the best of mothers through her teaching, laws, Tradition, and through her sacraments. As you have doubtless read in Acts the Apostle clung to the teachings of the Church, and that is what we must do if we are to allow her to give us the maternal care that we need to grow up in God the Father, and move forward on the way to salvation. But, there are many people, the best word for them is “dissenters”, who dissent from the teachings of the Church and lead many people down a rabbit hole with themselves because not everyone is gifted with the clear vison of the Church as a good mother. It is for the sake of charity in truth that we have reason to be concerned about the many souls who go astray at the hand of these false teachers who say the things that people want to hear. The gospel is a hard message in that it calls us to daily conversion, but if we are to grow up in God by the care of this most tneder Mother then we must apply the precept of true charity to ourselves and shed whatever is revealed as false within us. These dissenters water down the gospel and use the public oversights of our Holy Father as an excuse to proceed with their lies, at a cost to the many people with “itching ears”. In short, it is a travesty because the soul is eternal and I see the Catholic Church as our safest guide toward the way of salvation.

    I hope that this sheds some light on the major problem at hand for you. It’s not about the details but rather about the issue of authenticity and good character. Just like the father in a family should hold himself accountable and admit his mistakes in front of his family as an example of goodness for his children, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, should speak to the oversight of important rubrics on Holy Thursday.

  29. MichaelJ says:

    BlB oregon, yes, Pope Francis absolutely could have stated, either directly or through one of his delegates: “this is a one-time thing for which I gave myself a dispensation, and anyone wanting to do anything like it must have permission from the Holy See first.” The issue, which you seem to have missed, is that he did not do so.

    To borrow your Governor analogy, yes, a Governor does have the authority to commute a prison sentence. He cannot, however, simply ignore the law and initiate a jailbreak to set a particular prisoner free. Like it or not, the latter is closer to what Pope Francis has done. He did not abrogate the law. He did not grant himself a one time (or permanent) disposition. Instead, he chose, for whatever reason, to simply ignore the law and proceed as he wished.

  30. JacobWall says:

    @Rev. Michael Church,

    Concerning theological objections to the changing the law governing the Mandatum, I think this comment from a regular here, The Masked Chicken, is useful:

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/04/sentimentality-and-feelin-good-v-reason-and-good-order/#comment-402523

    (It got a gold star from Fr. Z!)

  31. acricketchirps says:

    While I do agree with all the other posters here that it is unfair that a 15 year-old Muslim girl is not allowed to be a Catholic priest… What? Oh, never mind!

  32. I’ve observed priests washing the feet of Catholic women on Holy Thursday in many parishes over decades, the first time the women were members of the Parish Council and the pastor washed the feet of members of the Parish Council each year. Perhaps over the decades the liturgists have successfully “inoculated” me with greater sensitivity than the rubrics allow (viri).

    That said, I have never observed priests washing the feet of non-Catholic women (or men) on Holy Thursday during those same decades. Yes, my “n” of parishes is small—too parochial—and arguably not generalizable to the larger Church (diocese, ecclesiastical jurisdiction, or nation). Had I witnessed priests washing the feet of non-Catholics, perhaps I’d have thought, “Well, how ecumenical!” and gone on my merry way thinking this liturgical act part of the larger ecumenical movement and important for the sake of improving relations between our communities. And, then, over the decades, perhaps the liturgists would have successfully inoculated me with even greater sensitivity for our “separated ‘brethren'” (“brother and sisters,” as the new Missal allows).

    That said, I never, ever would have conceived in my mind the idea of priests washing the feet of non-Christians on Holy Thursdays. Perhaps the liturgists would say that I need to be a bit more “smitten with the ecumenical bug,” their argument being that there were no Christians present at the first Holy Thursday.

    Well, Pope Francis has done so—whether at in a “small community” or not matters not to me—and this “act of care and compassion” now provides justification for priests to do the same in parishes. So, perhaps it’s time for this Luddite to go back to school and learn something about the new liturgy. Washing the feet of non-Christians just doesn’t make sense . I don’t get it, even it Pope Francis does it.

  33. Sofia Guerra says:

    THREEHEARTS says:
    2 April 2013 at 11:32 am

    Mr Peters is absolutely wrong
    Read in John’s Gospel the answer of the soon to be Christian Catholic Pope. Read Peter 1st’s Answer to Christ’s words. I mean the promise you will not be with Me in Paradise if you do not let Me wash your feet. If that is not a promise to a Jew that his inherited sin from Adam and all others would be removed then we have a problem. It was a Baptism for all the Apostles, even for Judas Iscariot. Like Adam, Judas did not repent and look at the rest of their lives. Before you all criticize think of it this way, the Church neither teaches nor does She comment on Peter’s words. How can She? The Pope, our first Pope had already made his infallible feelings known, “Wash me all over then Lord”.

    First, it is DR. Peters, a canon lawyer. And you? Second, your ambiguous (at best) interpretation of infallibility, well, you have a lot of research to do. I find that is the answer before one claims to have the definitive answer. No?

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  35. amenamen says:

    What’s all this?

    There is glee among those who are “almost always wrong about almost everything” because they sense a victory of sorts in their agenda to change the Church’s teachings on ordination. But if this episode indicates an opening toward the ordination of women to the priesthood, it would also have to indicate an openness to the ordination of Moslems. Wouldn’t it?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHPt4ZP-INo

  36. Panterina says:

    Dr. Peters is right on the money. Bishops can ask for an indult, and exceptions have known to have been granted. The thing is that the Pope, as the supreme legislator, does not have to technically ask for an indult. I agree that, by not follwing the letter of the law, Pope Francis may have unintented consequences (amiguity, confusion, not to mention the fact that a “clarification” would be best if it came from a qualified dicastery). On the other hand, I feel that we may tend to overlook that Jesus’ gesture was mostly intended for those who have to do the feet washing, and is not so much for the recipients of said washing.

  37. Jack Regan says:

    I think the fact that Pope Francis ignored a clear rule could turn out to be very interesting. He had to know that’s what he was doing and I suspect the reason why will become clearer in the weeks and months ahead.

    We live in interesting – and I think, exciting – times!

  38. if the Pope made a mistake maybe we could move on. Can we admit he’s not flaming heretic? Maybe we need to get to the point we don’t care what the clueless media has to say.We can’t live and die by their reports.
    There were a lot of folks here w/ questions. Yep,me too. Maybe we can get them answered.
    “Not to beat a dead horse here but, what the Holy Father did was to make an empty shell out of love to be filled with subjective opinions and emotionalism. No favor was objectively done for the young men and women to whom “kindness” was meant to be shown.” i get your point but disagree somewhat. Pope Francis didn’t make it an empty shell of love. The media managed to do that. As for the young me and women who were given this act we don’t know what it did for them. i wouldn’t venture a guess. We would have to speak to them.

  39. Nancy D. says:

    I suppose our Pope does not understand the significance of Christ’s washing of the feet at The Last Supper, and apparently, Father Lombardi does not either.

  40. BillyHW says:

    It takes real humility to obey the law.

    Pope Francis should have also respected the instructions Pope Benedict left behind for the inauguration/coronation ceremonies.

  41. question.Did Pope Francis KNOW this law? Do some Popes have a real knowledge of Canon Law and some don’t? Would it not to have been up to someone who DID know to sit him down and explain it to him? I have never read Canon law. ..anyone else?
    Did he know but ASSUMED as Pope he was permitted? Did Pope Benedict leave these instructions behind or were they ALWAYS there?
    Still think it was a mistake and maybe at some point he will address it?

  42. dbwheeler says:

    For those of you who fear a descent into chaos or for those of you who think all is just terrific and we’re in for some exciting times and for those of you who are just waiting to decide what’s what…just purse your lips and sing “Look on the bright side of life” …whistle brightly with a smile on your face (I suppose it can be done at the same time?) and do a little soft shoe. Another option is to sing ‘Come on…get happy” (another good tune to whistle while smiling. ;o)

  43. is one mistake not forgivable? Pope Francis made a mistake.( i made one too-quoted Lombardi. )*sigh*

  44. lmo1968 says:

    Is it okay to think it was not a mistake? And that what the pope did was fine given where he was. Fwiw, I didn’t think Benedict’s speech at Regensberg was a mistake either.

  45. BLB Oregon says:

    –“BlB oregon, yes, Pope Francis absolutely could have stated, either directly or through one of his delegates: “this is a one-time thing for which I gave myself a dispensation, and anyone wanting to do anything like it must have permission from the Holy See first.” The issue, which you seem to have missed, is that he did not do so.

    To borrow your Governor analogy, yes, a Governor does have the authority to commute a prison sentence. He cannot, however, simply ignore the law and initiate a jailbreak to set a particular prisoner free. Like it or not, the latter is closer to what Pope Francis has done. He did not abrogate the law. He did not grant himself a one time (or permanent) disposition. Instead, he chose, for whatever reason, to simply ignore the law and proceed as he wished.”–

    Let us hope that his official letter to the Holy See got lost somewhere between his outbox and his inbox, and that we will hear this clarification made eventually. Late will be far better than never.

  46. Joseph-Mary says:

    I hope the Holy Father has a very good confessor. Perhaps Cardinal Burke…

  47. The Masked Chicken says:

    Some comments:

    Could someone explain what Pastoral means? This notion seems to be getting fuzzier and fuzzier over time. [Ooooooh yes!]

    What does this sentence mean:

    “The pastoral practice in the Church of the shepherds who have “the odour of the sheep” – as we know – is that the concrete situation is taken very much into account, shall we say the community for which and in which one celebrates and the meaning that such gesture – which is not a Sacrament of the Church, but a meaningful rite inserted also in the Liturgy, yet one not codified by fundamental laws of the Church – can be lived in keeping with the pastoral meaning that it takes (in a given context).”

    Does this mean that one can assign any meaning to any sign as long as it is for, “pastoral,” reasons? Does that not mean that truth is relative, since the expression of truth ddepends on the assignability of truth to signs? He seems to be saying that the ends justify the means. Am I misinterpreting this?

    “This is so true, it seems to me, that we have seen also in the past photographs of Cardinal Bergoglio, (then) Archbishop of Buenos Aires, doing the washing of the feet including women.”

    Wow. Before he was a Christian and a bishop, St. Augustine sired a son. Now that he is bishop, may he continue that practice? This is a textbook case of the argumentum ad antiquitatem (from Wikiepedia):

    Appeal to tradition (also known as argumentum ad antiquitatem, appeal to antiquity, or appeal to common practice) is a common fallacy in which a thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it correlates with some past or present tradition. The appeal takes the form of “this is right because we’ve always done it this way.”[1]

    An appeal to tradition essentially makes two assumptions that are not necessarily true:

    The old way of thinking was proven correct when introduced, i.e. since the old way of thinking was prevalent, it was necessarily correct.
    In actuality this may be false—the tradition might be entirely based on incorrect grounds.
    The past justifications for the tradition are still valid at present.
    In actuality, the circumstances may have changed; this assumption may also therefore be untrue.”

    Is it not of service to the youth to show them how we (are supposed to) do things in the Catholic Church? If they cannot see the awe and reverence for something beyond themselves in the act (which would have been applied to twelve men) of foot washing, then, have they not been poorly served?

    Okay, let’s call Fr. Lombardi’s bluff. Obviously – and I don’t even think anyone has considered this – far from an act of service to the Moslem girl, this was an act of cruelty. Washing her feet within the context of a Mass means that, at least obliquely, she was participating, willingly, in the Mass, which violates every tenant of Islam. In fact, it could get her killed in some countries. The Pope washed her feet to incidicate that he is at her service, exactly in persona Christi, to further exacerbate the problem, setting up the commands of Christ as being higher than the commands of the prophet, Mohammed. So. if, as Fr. Lombardi indicates, they were really trying to be sensitve to their environment, they would NOT have washed the feet of a Moslem girl. Obviously, they were either sensitive to a different agenda (using the washing sign to show service, no matter what) or really badly misunderstood the environment. There need be no imputation of sin, since the intentions were benign, but sometimes one must really consider the environment before acting and it seems that this act was only partially thought through.

    My opinion. Probably wrong.

    The Chicken

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

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  49. VexillaRegis says:

    Anchorite: Thank you! ;-)

  50. Cathy says:

    Wow, one thing is for sure, this really has me thinking about both the action of washing feet, and the example of washing feet. St. Paul was not there at the Last Supper, but his epistle to Timothy in regards to widows, asks whether a widow has washed the feet of the saints. Does he mean this in a literal sense, or an exemplary sense, in how the widow is an example to the faithful? When St. Paul called St. Peter out on preferring the company of Jewish converts, was he, in a manner of speaking, washing the feet of a saint? When Holy Father Francis asked the youth to help one and other, was he asking them to help both by being examples for each other and correcting each other?

  51. BLB Oregon says:

    I think that one of the main problem with women washing feet and having their feet washed in a ritual setting is that it isn’t a supernatural act. Think about it. Do 14 year old boys have parties where they paint each other’s toenails and color each other’s hair? No. Do you think a 14 year old boy would find it an “act of service” to be allowed to wash the feet of a 14 year old girl? I’m thinking not! For a young man, and even for an older man, it is not only a supernatural act to wash your peer’s feet, but also a supernatural act to let your idol wash yours. The guy who washes your feet or even shines your shoes or picks up the towels after you in your locker room is more than just one notch below you. That is the service of an inferior. This is not true of women, not even very secular women. Women are so helpful to each other that they can become a nuisance! Therefore, what is supernatural, in my humble opinion, is for men to wash each other’s feet and for women to see foot washing going on and yet to stay in their seats and let somebody else do it!

    I know it is not fashionable to have these kinds of attitudes about gender differences, because of course they don’t describe everybody. Still, where women are involved in the foot washing, I think it has become a natural event, not a ritual that points to anything supernatural.

  52. Lucas Whittaker says:

    Dear Rev. Michael Church (and all of those who might not have noticed what I was getting at when I referred to the maternal care of holy Church as a reason for holding fast to hers laws as they come down to us through Tradition, or from the Apostles and their successors):

    To be clear, and the borrow heavily from the words of the eminent theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, which explain well the role that the Church has in the life of faith: “…the Church, in her representatives, subjects no one to herself, but rather to God, to whom alone the act of faith can properly be directed…It is in this sense that we are to understand the “Credo Ecclesiam” of the Apostles’ Creed, not in the sense that Church represents Christ and that it is to her as proper subject that the act of faith is directed…the act of faith is essentially existential, that is to say, it requires the believer to surrender his total reality as a sacrifice of obedience…the sole authentic motive for Christian faith is God’s uncreated act of revelation, the internal Word of God, with which the believer’s spirit comes into living contact in a most simple act which unites him directly with the Primal Truth.

    “The magisterium (the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church) is a means; the life of the Church is an end…it is the end of the Church’s life to embody ever more in the world the form of the Son, to the glorification of the Father, and to make visible the Son’s form to a world that does not believe…the witness borne by the Apostles and their successors possesses only an ostensive, transitory character, and it is solely as a transitory witness that it can be incorporated into the content of what must be believed…

    However, regarding the relationship between ‘ecclesial faith’ and faith in Christ, “especial care should be exercised lest faith in signs should obscure God’s form of revelation as it becomes visible to the believer”: [And this seems to be the major argument of Protestantism, that it is faith in Jesus and scripture that saves, not an institution such as the Catholic Church.] “The Church, in her representatives—the Apostles and their successors—has been commissioned to proclaim Christ’s doctrine to all peoples authoritatively, and in the end Christ’s doctrine is nothing other than the doctrine about Christ, who is the quintessence of the law and of the truth of God.”

    [And because faith comes through hearing according to St. Paul,] “This proclamation [of the Church], this “kerygma”, is the normal way for men to come into contact with the form of revelation: ‘fides ex auditu, auditus autem per verbum Christi’ (Romans 10:17). Paul’s words here are not altogether unambiguous: judging from the context, ‘auditus’ here seems to designate the Apostle’s preaching—the word which resounds within the Church (cf. 10:14f): but, as the act of hearing, it further refers to the Word of Christ itself, attained through the preaching. ‘Per verbum Christi’ can mean that the preaching is done because of Christ’s command or by means of Christ’s Word, so that Christ’s Word is either the cause or the context of the preaching. But in either case it is clear that it is not the preaching itself that is believed, but, through it, the Word of Christ, which is what is heard through the ‘kerygma’, whether directly or indirectly. Even though the Church is thus officially entrusted with the proclamation, the believer nevertheless does not believe in the Church but, rather, accepts her authoritative witness concerning Christ in order to believe in Christ with the support of this accredited witness. Nowhere do the messengers of the faith demand that the believers make an act of faith in them: for, both in the Old and in the New Testament, faith means to subject oneself wholly—intellect, will, and heart—to the God who has already totally given himself to us.”

    “For this reason, everything which the Church’s magisterium (teaching authority) elaborates into an infallible proclamation of dogmas and definitions in the form of conceptual and verbal interpretations and formulations of doctrine can be only a means of presenting to men God’s revelation in Christ the more deeply and clearly, thus making it a light in men’s hearts. The individual ‘articles of faith’ in their verbal and conceptual form which are normative in the Church are paths by which faith reaches the person of Christ and, through him, the triune personal God.”

    It is because faith comes through hearing, and because the Church was commissioned by Christ to proclaim his Word, and that she desires to foster that revelation as a light in my heart leading me closer to God and to true life, that I and others sometimes call her “mother”. Our earthly mothers clothe and feed us, but the Church, in her maternal care, desires through her preaching to form God’s revelation so in my heart that I become a true son of God owing to his calling me to faith in his divine Son through the preaching of the Apostles and their successors. Mother Church cares for the best part of us, the eternal soul. And because I believe that her intention for me to know Jesus Christ is pure I see it as crucial that we allow her to lead us according to her prescripts, which should never be set aside, as is sometimes done in the setting of the Mass by not following rubrics.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the Protestant insistence that the heart of faith is the encounter of person (believer) with person (Jesus), “just as Abraham, as the father of all believers, encountered God and clung to him over and above every rite and dogma, by the simple surrender of his whole being, by the offering of all plans and all human certainties and, in the sacrifice of Isaac, by giving up every imagined insight into the ways and promises of God”: “the promise to Abraham and his descendants that they would inherit the world was not based on Abraham’s observance of the Torah but on the fact that he had been restored to fellowship with God through faith [after all!]” (Rom 4:13). But that faith comes by hearing and we owe it to the Apostles and their successors who handed on the message of the gospel through the Church who exists to support us as we grow in faith. All of her sacraments “have their initial, visible life-form in the earthly form of Christ’s mission itself.” Those sacraments come down to us through Church Tradition and the manner in which they are exercised is sacred, an idea that we get from our Jewish roots where to offer sacrifice in the wrong way meant certain death (cf. the story of Nadab and Abihu: They offered a sacrifice with unauthorized fire before the LORD, disobeying his instructions. Nadab and Abihu were consumed immediately by God’s fire (Leviticus 10:1-2). In Leviticus 9 and Exodus 30, God outlines a proper sacrifice to him. The Jewish book the Talmud (meaning from the Hebrew, instruction, learning) describes, among other things, how the Levitical priest were taught to remember the mistakes that Nadab and Abihu made so that they could offer worship according to God’s command. The very roots of the Catholic Mass hearken back these Old Testament sacrifices now performed in the light of Christ’s own sacrifice.).

    Everything that the Church’s magisterium elaborates into an infallible proclamation of dogmas and definitions in the form of conceptual and verbal interpretations and formulations of doctrine is a means of presenting to men God’s revelation in Christ the more deeply and clearly, thus making it a light in men’s hearts (paraphrased from above). She is, as I have said, our mother, and it is folly to misrepresent her rubrics in any sacrament because she only prescribes them for our benefit, and in her effort to communicate the theology which dates back to the life of Jesus by whose command she passes on the faith through her preaching: All of her sacraments “have their initial, visible life-form in the earthly form of Christ’s mission itself.” (All quotes taken from The Glory of the Lord volume 1, chapter entitle The Light of Faith)

  53. Parasum says:

    “Honestly, I do not understand why I keep hearing about the washing of women’s feet at this Mass and nothing about the washing of the feet of the unbaptized. ”

    ## How very odd. Both are wrong. As is surely obvious.

  54. Lucas Whittaker says:

    “Both are wrong. As is surely obvious.”

    That you use the word “obvious” in this circumstance is owing to the fact that you see the intrinsic nexus between the word of revelation and its ecclesially binding expression. Not everybody is gifted with that same insight. Many people today dissociate Jesus from his Church. Thus the long explanation that I offer as a feeble attempt to make just these connections for those among us who do not already love mother Church.

  55. Anabela says:

    What I would like to know as I saw someone ask this question on another site, is if other faiths were allowed to receive Holy Communion on that night. While all the pictures on various sites show only the washing of feet but not the reception of Holy Communion, I think it is a very valid question. I think this is more important as if other faiths were allowed to come forward to receive the Body of the Lord, that would be very serious indeed. I think we as Catholics are entitled to know this as there is some concern about it out there. Who would one ask to clarify this ?