Last year Pope Francis went to a jail on the edge of Rome and washed the feet of a couple of females
Today in the WSJ (Wisconsin State Journal) there is a rather feeble attempt to stir a little more controversy about His Mightiness, Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, by the grace of God Bishop of Madison.
In the Spirit: Diocesan ban on washing women’s feet stays in place
Just a few weeks after his election last spring, Pope Francis stunned papal observers by washing the feet of two women during a Holy Week ritual. [That is supposed to impress us all: No one should ever obey the Church’s laws again! Because: Who are we to judge?]
The rite — on Maundy Thursday, just prior to Easter Sunday — re-enacts Jesus’ washing of the feet of his 12 male disciples at his Last Supper. Traditionally, popes washed the feet only of men. [Exactly like Jesus before them and exactly according to the Church’s liturgical law.]
Catholic traditionalists [tisk tick… no. Catholics who obey the Church’s laws. Don’t accept their premise.] believe the men-only rule should remain — at least for everyone below the pope — and many canon lawyers say church law agrees with that position. [But the WSJ knows better than all those people, right?] However, some dioceses in this country had begun including [Sorry… “dioceses” don’t include or exclude.] women long before the pope’s example, and a statement on the website for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says that to include women is “an understandable way of accentuating the evangelical command of the Lord.” [LOL! This underscores something that we must be wary of when reading anything from the USCCB about liturgical law, especially when written at a certain time. Not only does that phrase not have anything to do with the law or rubrics, but, often, statements that are actually descriptions are taken to be norms. For example, look at statements about Communion in the hand: they describe that the norm (read=usual) way of receiving Communion is standing, in the hand, etc. Read words. Think.]
Three years ago, Madison Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino issued guidelines that gave priests the option of either using only men or not celebrating the ritual at all. [NB: Those are the two options given BY THE CHURCH! The footwashing rite is already an option! The Church’s law says that only men may be the recipients of this footwashing. Bp. Morlino’s guidelines do nothing but reiterate the Church’s laws, which bishops and priests are obliged to follow.] Given the heightened attention to foot-washing last year, some parishioners thought Morlino might re-evaluate his position. [Again: Bp. Morlino’s position (note how they frame this in terms of personal preference rather than in terms of the Church’s law) is merely that of the Church’s clear rubrics, which have been carefully explained by the CDW: MEN… ONLY MEN.]
That has not happened. Brent King, the diocesan spokesman, said priests have the same two options this year — men-only or no ritual. Holy Thursday Mass falls on April 17. Easter is April 20.
As has become his tradition, [Imagine: the bishop of a diocese has made it his tradition to celebrate Holy Thursday. What’s next? Good Friday?!?] Morlino will celebrate Holy Thursday Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Downtown Madison, King said, where he will wash the feet of 12 seminarians.
Last year, at least two priests — at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Madison and Nativity of Mary in Janesville — took a pass on the ritual due to the male-only rule. [Unclear: does that mean they opted not to have the rite at all or does it mean that they washed the feet of women?]
There follow a couple of other local stories.
Again: The Pope can do X, Y or Z, but the rest of us are obliged – by the promises we made at ordination – to obey the Church’s laws. All of us have two choices: don’t do the rite, or do the rite in the proper way.
Watch now for all sorts of people demanding that bishops and priests violate the law because of what Francis did. And watch all manner of clerics hiding behind the Pope when they choose to break the law.