Foot-washing, law, journalists, liberal activists, and Bp. Morlino

In the Left-leaning Wisconsin State Journal columnist Doug Erikson offered a piece on 16 April called “In the Spirit: Bishop Robert Morlino’s foot-washing policy draws national press, petition effort”. Erickson’s bias against Bp. Morlino in favor of a liberal activist group is thinly veiled; he is their cheerleader.  Erickson cribbed a piece by David Gibson from RNS.   He credulously accepted several unsupportable premises asserted by people quoted in the Gibson piece.  NB: Gibson’s article wasn’t wholly bad!  He presented more than one side and drill into the central question.  Erickson did something else.

I’m involved in this, since I have now been widely quoted.  Thus, I will weigh in a little deeper.

One important fact that neither Erickson or Gibson detailed was that Bp. Morlino’s note to priests about the two licit options for washing feet on Thursday (wash the feet of men only or exclude the optional rite) was sent out in 2011. Erickson did mention in a piece in March that Bp. Morlino’s letter about foot-washing was “three years ago”.  That important bit was left out this time.  It could be that Erickson, and Gibson, wanted people to think that Morlino issued this letter after Francis became Pope, after Francis decided for himself to derogate from the Church’s liturgical law.

Here is Erickson’s cribbing of Gibson’s piece that contains his promotion of a radicalized liberal petition against Bp. Morlino.  My emphases and comments:

Religion News Service, a national news-gathering organization with press offices in Washington, D.C., has a good primer this week on the debate in the Roman Catholic Church over whether women should be included in the church’s foot-washing ritual on Holy Thursday. [Do not accept automatically that the RNS piece was a "good" primer.  It had some good information in it, but it had its problems as well.]

Madison Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino gets top billing in the article along with Pope Francis.

Last year, the pope washed the feet of both men and women. Morlino has said his priests must wash only men’s feet or forgo the ritual entirely.  [Yes, he said that.  In 2011!  So, why dredge this up now?  It's called yellow journalism.  If you look in an illustrated dictionary for yellow journalism, you might find this column. Erickson wanted to stir problems for the bishop.]

“So who’s correct?” reporter David Gibson asks in the article. “Is the pope a dissenter? Or are Morlino and others being legalistic? What does the foot washing ritual represent, anyway?”

Gibson goes on to explore those issues. Ultimately, he writes, “there are no simple answers to those questions, though the weight of history and custom — not to mention authority — seems to be on the pope’s side.” [Those claims are not entirely true.  First, don't simply accept the premise that there is a Most Wonderfullest Ehvur Pope Side and a Legalistic Meanie Morlino Side.  Also, it simply defies history and common sense to claim that history and custom support the washing of the feet of women during Holy Thursday Mass.]

But Morlino gets his share of support in the article, too. Here’s the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a blogger popular with the Catholic right, [I think even more from the Left read me.] on Morlino’s approach:

“The church’s law says that only men may be the recipients of this foot washing. Morlino’s guidelines — that his priests must wash the feet of 12 men or not do the foot washing at all — do nothing but reiterate the church’s laws, which bishops and priests are obliged to follow.” [Problem.  I haven't written that the guidelines refer to "12 men".  The actual rubrics in the post-Conciliar Missale Romanum do not specify a number.  But that is a small point.  The above is substantially correct.  There are two options according to the Church's liturgical law: the foot-washing rite is, itself, an option.  It can be legitimately omitted.  If it is done, then only mature males are to be selected for the rite.  The Latin word is "viri", which means "men", and not in the sense of Facebook's 57 genders.  It really does mean grown up male and it doesn't mean anything else.  Latin has perfectly good words for "people... anyone... 'man' in the generic sense... women... anyone", etc.]

[Here is the writer in his biased, activist mode] UPDATE: Faithful America, an online community of Christians, has started a petition urging Morlino to allow the washing of women’s feet.  [When you go HERE to look at their site, take a look at the "About" page.  Who are these people?]

“It’s unfortunate that during Christians’ most holy week, Bishop Morlino is ignoring Pope Francis’ inspiring example of love and inclusion, and instead clings to a sexist and exclusionary policy,” ["policy" is code language.  Policy seems more ephemeral, more personal, than a law.  Policies don't need much of a procedure to change.  Laws do. So, call it a policy and you distort people's understanding of the reality of the situation.] Michael Sherrard, Faithful America’s executive director [of... what exactly?  Three people and a laptop?], says in a press release. [Who is this fellow?  In this article HERE it says he has worked for move on.org.  He as a coveted MDiv from a Lutheran seminary. Beyond that.  He seems to be interested in sticking his nose into many places.]

More than 15,000 people have signed the petition so far, according to the organization.

Will either Erickson, or Gibson, write about the visit Bp. Morlino made on the busy Holy Thursday to a nursing home for two hours to anoint people and bring them Holy Communion?

I will also point you to a piece at Laetificat Madison:

Christmas morning 1998 in Scranton Pennsylvania, a priest who has recently admitted having a “foot fetish” gave a 13 year old girl alcohol and touched her feet and legs creepily. She now (16 years later) has made a police complaint, and the priest has been charged with molestation.

[...]

Meanwhile, the annual ritual bashing of Bishop Morlino for simply holding local priests to the Church’s liturgical discipline according to which the optional Holy Thursday footwashing rite, which recalls an episode at the Last Supper with Jesus and the 12 Apostles, involves the priest washing the feet of adult males (viri).

Local religion journalist Doug Erickson felt the devilish urge to dress this up as if it were news: “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. Given the heightened attention to foot-washing last year, some parishioners thought Morlino might re-evaluate his position. This has not happened.”

[...]

The story of Fr Altavilla of Scranton is perfectly timed to underscore why the wise do not undermine, scorn, mock, or subject to media harassment those bishops who, exercising the prudence which is theirs to exercise, do not give special permission to priests to run their hands over the bare feet and legs of girls and women during Holy Thursday Mass, nor at other times.

Bishop Morlino understands that, when the Pope decides to derogate for himself from the liturgical law,  that derogation doesn’t abolish the law for everyone else.  The law remains. We priests and bishops must obey the liturgical law which we do not have the authority to break or change on our own authority.  The Church is not lawless.  The Church is not merely a display case for people’s passing whims and changing fashions.

When and if the Holy Father wants the law to change for everyone, he will make sure that it is changed for everyone in the proper way and he will let everyone in the world know about it.  Until them, the law stands.

Finally: People talk, inaccurately, about Morlino imposing a “ban” on the washing of the feet of women.  That’s isn’t true.  If it is a “ban”, then it is Pope Francis’ own ban, for he is now the supreme legislator in the Church.  It is Francis’ ban until he decides to change the law.

Get back to us after Francis changes the law.

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56 Responses to Foot-washing, law, journalists, liberal activists, and Bp. Morlino

  1. acardnal says:

    “Faithful America”? I’m sure glad they didn’t call themselves “Faithful Catholics.”

  2. Imrahil says:

    Where’s the dubium procedure when you need it?

    The issue will only be settled when Rome either changes the law or reiterates it.

    [To the moral theologian and confessor, less so the lawyer, the question is indeed whether the Pope who certainly knew how people would take it, and did not reiterate the law - it being not a law with stress either, just a rule that happens to be on the books - did not at least give a moral exemption. It would not probably ease my own conscience into accepting women, were I a priest, but still... the Pope knew what he did and knew what effect it would have, had the chance to reiterate the law and didn't...]

  3. jhayes says:

    Cardinal O’Malley said he queried the CDW in 2004 and they said that he could make a pastoral decision to wash the feet of women at the Mandatum. After 34 years of washing the feet of men only, he started in 2005 including women in the foot washing.

    The issue came up because Cardinal Law had washed women’s feet. When Cardinal (then Archbishop) O’Malley arrived and did not, it caused protests.

    Other bishops have made the same pastoral decision.

    [Sorry, but... so what? Really? So what?]

  4. majuscule says:

    I realize I did not have to visit the Fishwrap website and read the glowing article about Pope Francis washing feet and then compound my sin (well it certainly felt sinful to me) by reading the snide comments on the article about Bp. Morlino and others who do not allow indiscriminate washing of feet.

    And then I had to listen to a supposedly former “c”atholic talk show host going on and on about the anti female foot washing traddys in the backwards church that he no longer considers himself a part of. (Radio is on for the person I am caring for who has no other entertainment.) Well, it’s Good Friday. I should have suffered in silence. Sigh.

  5. Joe in Canada says:

    The “campaigns” page for Faithful America is more revealing than the “about” page. Most of the campaigns are for the Church to change Her teaching about homosexuality.

  6. Del says:

    Doug Erickson covers the ‘religion beat’ for the Wisconsin State Journal. Since Madison is home for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, there is more than the usual amount of religious conflict to report.

    Doug Erickson wrote a tremendous series of stories in the Wisconsin State Journal celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Bishop Morlino’s leadership in Madison. We must give him credit for persuading his editors to let him do a story that was generally quite complimentary of our Bishop.

    He has, on many occasions, reached out to faithful Catholics and allowed us to participate in the praise and defense of our Bishop, especially when a story of conflict hits the news beat. Mr. Erickson does not delight in reporting on the “hot water” issues, and he actively seeks opportunities to share warm stories of public interest concerning Bishop Morlino.

    Madison is steeped in gender politics. So, unfortunately, that question of foot-washing comes up every year. When the editors ask Doug, “Has Morlino changed his policy on foot-washings yet?” — He has to write a few paragraphs about it. Why it got picked up by a national activist blog…. well, we know why that happens.

    We can be critical of Erickson’s writing, but we should not charge him with being intentionally unfair. He is not Catholic, but he respects us. I have sent him emails in the past — both to thank him when he writes well of Bishop Morlino, and to correct him when he does not seem to understand. He has always responded with humble courtesy and thanks. He truly wants to be fair and appreciates honest correction.

    I am sure that his editors are tickled when a WSJ story about Bishop Morlino goes national. That may be why some of those little spins find their way into a story.

  7. Polycarpio says:

    “when the Pope decides to derogate for himself from the liturgical law, that derogation doesn’t abolish the law for everyone else.”

    The problem with the premise that the Pope is simply using pontifical privilege to carve out a personal exception for himself only, in his exalted capacity as “The Pope,” is that he was doing this as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and therefore his practice is not pontifical privilege, but a continuing practice that he already had before he was pope. This lends credence to the view that he is encouraging us to be less rigid about adherence to this particular rule, because we can see him not adhering rigidly to the rule at the time that he is an archbishop.

  8. HyacinthClare says:

    “…some parishioners thought [Bishop] Morlino might re-evaluate his position.” It isn’t HIS POSITION.

  9. Johnno says:

    “when the Pope decides to derogate for himself from the liturgical law, that derogation doesn’t abolish the law for everyone else.”

    A problem is that the Pope’s actions lead by example.

    For example, Pope Benedict XVI made it mandatory that we receive Holy Communion from him, kneeling and on the tongue as his masses. Church law did not change with regards to Communion on the hand. But Benedict XVI was using his example to drive the point home about the Holiest of Sacraments.

    Francis’ actions, rather the actions of any Pope, also can inspire, for good or ill, the actions of the faithful to follow. Especially in these times of widespread Catholic ignorance about Church law, it is especially charitable and important for the Pope to watch what he says and does publicly. Catholics and people the world over will be learning first and foremost by watching what the shepard does with regards to everything from respect for Communion, foot-washing, ecumenism etc. The Pope has a heavy and grave duty placed on his shoulders to not lead anyone astray by word or deed.

  10. Elizabeth D says:

    I wanted to address you as Monsignor Zuhlsdorf after the Chrism Mass as my way of wishing you happy Easter, but I didn’t spot you afterward. [HA! Thanks for that.]

    Holy Thursday Mass was moving. The foot washing was of 12 of the numerous seminarians. They are not only Bishop Morlino’s pride and joy but a joy for all of us; one of the greatest things this time of year is having so many of them at these liturgies. They are wonderful young men. [Amen to that.] Bishop Morlino was all the more Christ for us since he had been made to suffer for simple obedience about this, and for the priesthood and imitation of Christ.

    It is clear that different bishops are using this to mean substantially different things, or at least with an extremely different emphasis. Since the Scriptural context is the Last Supper, there is really does not appear to be any case for changing liturgical law to have women’s feet washed. Bishop Morlino commented in his homily “I get it” that Pope Francis is sending a message about humble service to all people–a valid message, and Pope Francis has a right to dispense himself to wash such a diverse group. But Bishop Morlino says in the Bible this scene is essentially “the first continuing education conference to the new bishops” the 12 Apostles, immediately following the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood.

    [Christ's washing of feet was a sort of continuing education moment for His new priests. Holy Thursday has never... never... been a celebration of volunteerism, which is precisely what many would reduce it to these days.]

  11. Jeannie_C says:

    Good Friday – and this is the best you have to offer, Fr. Z? Fixated on foot washing and slamming people you don’t agree with, encouraging others to join in? What a pathetic example you set. Delete me from your blog comments, please, by all means.

  12. Matt R says:

    It only “clicked” with me recently that no one really understands what the rite actually is. I think it is connected to the institution of the priesthood and of priestly service in the college of priests. Hence it is most fittingly done by a bishop and priests of his diocese, and it could be done at any point on Holy Thursday up until its current liturgical place. And this is an ancient rite, only recently placed in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Fr. Hunwicke explained its earlier practice on his blog. There is also the ancient washing of the feet of the poor on Holy Thursday. Monarchs and clergy alike practiced this for centuries. I think people who argue for the inclusion of women see this as the origin of the current rite when I am not convinced it is, otherwise the rubric would not call for only adult males.

  13. frjim4321 says:

    I can get fairly well invested in this kind of discussion but find that it’s really “inside baseball” and of virtually no interest to the vast majority of Catholics. [But... that's not the way it ought to be. Gregory of Nazianzen wrote about going into butcher shop and the shopkeeper immediately saying "Are you for homoousios or homoiousios?" Augustine wrote of riots when people heard an unfamiliar version of Scripture.]

    So I guess I agree that it’s a truly cheap shot for journalists to trot out a three-year-old letter since it’s quite possible that the prelate has appropriately moderated his views in the interim.

  14. Lori Pieper says:

    Matt_R writes: It only “clicked” with me recently that no one really understands what the rite actually is.

    I have written about this question here (in my guise as a Church historian). But really, while John 13:1-15 clearly has several layers of meaning, the liturgical rite itself, as clearly explained by the authorities, has really only ever been about humble service. I just finished a blog post about this:

    http://subcreators.com/blog/2014/04/18/what-is-the-rite-of-footwashing-all-about/

    In other words, no one needs to think the all-male priesthood is being threatened here.

  15. RobertK says:

    I read an article yesterday from Fr. Dwight who also sees this alarming trend among the main stream. Pope Francis does it, so it must be perfectly fine. One of the main fears I had when Francis was elected Pope. He is not a liturgical Pope.
    Link to Fr. Dwight’s article.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2014/04/the-problem-with-washing-womens-feet.html

  16. frjim4321 says:

    [But... that's not the way it ought to be. Gregory of Nazianzen wrote about going into butcher shop and the shopkeeper immediately saying "Are you for homoousios or homoiousios?" Augustine write of riots when people heard and unfamiliar version of Scripture.] – Reverend and Esteemed Host

    I agree with the “ought,” but I prefer to deal in the realm of the real versus that of the ideal.

  17. Sword40 says:

    God Bless Bishop Morlino AND Fr. Z. Our FSSP Holy Thursday Mass opted out of the Foot Washing.

    Good Friday service began at 1:00 pm and ended at 5:15 pm. I really love Good Friday and tomorrows Vigil Mass. (10:00 – 2:00 am)

  18. First, thank you for forthrightly addressing the issue of propriety of men handling strange women’s and girl’s feet. As Jules says in Pulp Fiction, “Don’t be tellin’ me about foot massages.” I’m not saying I get it but my wife feels uncomfortable with it, so I’m going with her instincts.

    Second, I agree it’s a shame that we’ve been distracted during Holy Week, but how did that happen? We have the yearly Holy Thursday Foot Follies; Stations of “Trendy Causes and Those With an Unhealthy Nostalgia For the Past” at the Colosseum; and I could not even attend my parish’s Lenten Reconciliation Service because the Episcopal Minister “Mother” Jones (really) and the Lutheran pastor were with their flocks too for an “Ecumenical Reconciliation Service.” If you complain about everything being turned into agitprop, you “hate the poor,” and are a “Pharisee.”

    Finally, the Bear knows one who plugs away at his humble blog every day, dispensing hard-won wisdom, and the only thing that anyone ever really wanted to talk about was foot washing. This odd issue divides the joints and also the marrow like none other, and right at the worst possible time, on the eve of Good Friday. It is so very, very unnecessary.

  19. jhayes says:

    [Sorry, but... so what? Really? So what?]

    The traditional example was the Italian priest in a remote village who would say “If the Pope were here he would understand” as he made a pastoral decision instead of a legalistic one.

    Accepting Cardinal O’Malley’s statement that he asked the CDW and they told him that a bishop could make a pastoral decision to wash women’s feet at the Mandatum, Bishop Morlino still has a right to direct that women’s feet must not be washed in his diocese – but other bishops have a similar right to make a pastoral decision to allow washing women’s feet in their dioceses.

    [No, they really don't. A private letter from the Congregation to a bishop, applies to what is going on that that diocese, not in every other diocese. If the Congregation intends, within the sphere of its competence, to extend that to all the bishops of the Latin Church, the Congregation isn't going to do it in a private letter to a single ordinary. It will do it in an official instruction, duly promulgated and distributed.]

  20. sw85 says:

    @ Polycarpio–

    “The problem with the premise that the Pope is simply using pontifical privilege to carve out a personal exception for himself only, in his exalted capacity as “The Pope,” is that he was doing this as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and therefore his practice is not pontifical privilege, but a continuing practice that he already had before he was pope. This lends credence to the view that he is encouraging us to be less rigid about adherence to this particular rule, because we can see him not adhering rigidly to the rule at the time that he is an archbishop.”

    In other words, today’s Pontifical privilege was yesterday’s liturgical abuse.

    I think we can all agree that the Pope is encouraging less rigid adherence to the law. This is not, after all, the only discipline which then-Abp. Bergoglio was lax in observing or enforcing. The problem is that it’s not clear what the limits are to “less rigid adherence to the rules.” For instance, if Fr. Z. today began celebrating his ordinary form Masses with a silent Canon, would he be assured of the Pope’s congratulations? Or his own bishop’s? Or would he be greeted with a plume of vitriol of the sort that often billows forth from the Vatican these days?

    Even if Fr. Z. were not censored for it, might a hypothetical Fr. A. in a different diocese be?

    Avoiding rigid, mindless, Pharisaical adherence to the strict letter of the law to the neglect and exclusion of pastoral realities is surely an evil to be avoided. But it is in no way clear that that is the primary risk today. On the contrary, the experience of the Church for the last 50 years has been lawlessness and antinomianism, not Pharisaism, and we should have learned by now that lawlessness leads to a proliferation of petty tyrants trampling on the rights of the faithful.

  21. jhayes says:

    MattR wrote: It only “clicked” with me recently that no one really understands what the rite actually is. I think it is connected to the institution of the priesthood and of priestly service in the college of priests.

    Jimmy Akin gives a different explanation

    There has been a tendency in some circles to see the footwashing rite as linked specifically to the twelve apostles, and this has been presented as a reason why it should be limited to men.

    In the past, I myself promoted that understanding, because that is how it was first explained to me.

    It’s a natural understanding, particularly when twelve individuals are chosen to have their feet washed, and in an age when altar girls and women’s ordination have been receiving attention.

    However, as I’ve looked more closely at the texts, other elements have struck me:

    First, as we mentioned, the number twelve is not mandated in the text. The number is the choice of the celebrating priest. That, right there, loosens the connection of the rite with the apostles.
    Second, this event is recorded only in John’s Gospel, and John does not describe Jesus as washing the feet of “the apostles.” Instead, John says that he washed the feet of “his disciples.” Disciples is a more generic term than apostles. Although they are sometimes used synonymously, Jesus had many more disciples than he did apostles.
    Third, none of the antiphons sung during this rite (which might give clues to its meaning) speak of the “apostles.” They either use the more generic term “disciples” or they do not mention the disciples at all but rather Jesus’ example for us and his commandment to love one another.
    Fourth, none of the explanatory texts for this rite explain it in terms of an action directed specifically to the apostles.

    The most direct explanation of the rite’s purpose is found in Paschales Solemnitatis, which says:

    51. 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, and its proper significance explained.

    This indicates that we should understand that this rite “represents the service and charity of Christ”–not as a statement about ordination to the priesthood. To read it that way goes beyond what the texts indicate.

    According to the texts, our focus should be on the service and charity displayed in the rite and how we should serve and be charitable to one another.

    HERE

    [None of which removes the words viri selecti from the text. Furthermore, this OPTIONAL (nonessential) rite is in the context of a commemoration of the institution of the priesthood.]

  22. Polycarpio says:

    SW85, you make the point cogently and coherently. I don’t quibble with what you’re saying at all. My larger point (which I think you’ve also perceived) is that you cannot really argue (as Father gallantly attempts above), that Pope Francis is deliberately pursuing two standards (one for himself and one for us). He thinks there should be one, and he has seen it to be applicable both to archbishops and popes (because he thought it appropriate for himself when he held either post). I guess I’m less alarmed by it than others here. I hope you, Father and his readers, have a truly resplandescent Eastertide.

  23. BillyHW says:

    How refreshing it is to hear about a bishop with true humility that doesn’t believe himself to be above the law.

  24. Priam1184 says:

    Get rid of it. Plain and simple. Get rid of the foot washing bit. It does far more harm than good. I thank God that Maundy Thursday is not a Holy Day of Obligation because I refuse any more, after what I saw last year, to go to any Mass where this Rite is performed. It becomes the clown Mass of this generation and it needs to go away. If that portion of humanity that populates the Catholic Church ever comes back to its senses and quits worshiping itself then maybe we should bring it back; until that point it is a disaster. Get rid of it.

  25. SPWang says:

    Interesting to note that before 1955 the washing of feet was only permitted in Monasteries and Cathedrals.

  26. asperges says:

    Let us not beat about the bush: as long as we have a Pope who does not observe the liturgical norms himself, GIRM, episcopal instructions etc will fly out of the window and really there is little can be done to enforce them.

  27. southern orders says:

    Pope Benedict in his liturgical “Magisterium” recommended but did not mandate any “reform of the reform” except Summorum Pontificum. Liturgical subsidiarity remained in place for the most part. Pope Francis novelty of washing the feet of women and non-Catholics clearly shifts the emphasis on Holy Thursday away from Christ giving the Apostles, (the first “deacons, priests, bishops, fullness of Holy Orders) a very clear teaching that their priesthood is more expansive than that of the Jewish Priesthood which was basically confined to the temple with a fixation on remaining pure rather than coming into contact with anything that could render them impure. Jesus is telling the Christian men in Holy Orders that it must not be that way for them. And neither for the priestly people of God through Holy Baptism. the New Covenant religion in the Blood of Christ is one of worship and service (which cannot be separated from each other) thus we cannot be rendered impure by touching those in need, the dirty (physically or morally) the sick, injured and blood covered dying not to mention the dead.
    The Pope could legitimately change the rubric of “men” to include women and those who might not be Catholic and explain the symbolism of this while not detracting one iota from the true nature of the Sacrament of Holy Orders or the baptismal common priesthood of the faithful. Not changing the rubric or explaining himself in a papal decree or letter is really the problem. Or he could say that subsidiarity is possible and here are the options and why. You would think more progressive Catholics would back Bishop Morlino in terms of his local decision to follow the rubrics for the Holy Thursday foot washing or omit it altogether.

  28. acardnal says:

    jhayes reported, “Cardinal O’Malley said he queried the CDW in 2004 and they said that he could make a pastoral decision to wash the feet of women at the Mandatum. After 34 years of washing the feet of men only, he started in 2005 including women in the foot washing.

    The issue came up because Cardinal Law had washed women’s feet. When Cardinal (then Archbishop) O’Malley arrived and did not, it caused protests.”

    So. . . Church law (and the Truth) can be changed due to popular demand and protest? This same erroneous thinking has corrupted the correct understanding of Christ’s doctrine as expressed by His Church, too. Thus the confusion among Catholics,and lack of participation in the sacraments, and Church attendance, and marriage, and homosexual behavior, and the priesthood, and belief in the creeds, and the Catechism, and so forth for the last 50 years or so.

    Enough with the innovation.

    Read the black, do the red.

  29. jhayes says:

    Acardnal, here is Jimmy Akin’s explanation as to why each bishop can decide for his own diocese whether to include women or not:

    Although the Church’s official texts use language that indicates only men (Latin, viri) can have their feet washed on Holy Thursday, the situation today is more complex. [No, it really isn't.] In 2004, the new archbishop of Boston, Seán O’Malley, was criticized for varying from the practice of his predecessor, Cardinal Bernard Law, and washing only the feet of men. He explained that this was what the law required but said that he would query the Holy See about the matter. In 2005 the Boston Globe reported:
    O’Malley promised to consult with Rome, and yesterday his spokeswoman said the Congregation for Divine Worship, which oversees liturgical practices, had suggested the archbishop make whatever decision he thought was best for Boston.
    “The Congregation [for Divine Worship] affirmed the liturgical requirement that only the feet of men be washed at the Holy Thursday ritual.” However, the Congregation did “provide for the archbishop to make a pastoral decision.”
    Cardinal O’Malley then included women in the foot-washing rite. This sequence of events created a situation that was significantly muddier than existed before. If the archbishop of Boston was allowed to make pastoral exceptions to the rule, it would be difficult to argue that other bishops could not do the same in their dioceses. [No, it is not difficult to argue that at all. As stated elsewhere, a letter from the Congregation to a bishop about something in his diocese DOES NOT CHANGE THE LAW. The Congregation knows how to make this matter clear to all the bishops of the world. They know how to issue instructions that affect everyone. That is NOT what happened in the case of Boston.] This had the effect of creating a doubt as to what the law requires. According to the Code of Canon Law, “Laws, even invalidating and incapacitating ones, do not oblige when there is a doubt of law” (CIC 14). [There IS NO DOUBT of the law. The words "viri selecti" are still there in the 2002 book. They could have been removed. They weren't. The Congregation has not issued anything to amend that.]
    Until such time as the Holy See clarifies the matter, it appears that the law provides that only men are to have their feet washed in the ceremony but that the local bishop can choose to include women in his diocese if he deems it the best decision pastorally. [Wrong. But nice try.]

    HERE

  30. acardnal says:

    jhayes quoted Jimmy Akin as follow:, “51. 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, and its proper significance explained.”

    I think the wrong words were bolded in above. I would have done it as follows:
    “51. 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, and its proper significance explained.”

  31. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Perhaps I’m being cynical here, but I can see the thin end of a very wide wedge – once it becomes officially allowed for the feet of women to be washed on Maundy Thursday, then the dissidents will conveniently start to remind everyone that a) women ‘should be allowed’ to insist that their feet are handled only by women, and b) the custom is in honour of Christ washing the feet of His Apostles, so women can be Apostolic successors ie priests and bishops…

  32. vetusta ecclesia says:

    There is a case can be made for this rite to be reserved to the Chrism Mass, when the Bishop could be Christ to his clergy.

  33. i wish on Holy Thur Pope Francis would wash the feet of 12 men. Then as a gesture of service he would wash the feet of 12 people of his choice on a separate day or the same day as a wholly separate event. Service was one teaching of Jesus gesture but the other was instituting the priesthood and their role in His Church. Fr Z is not fixated on foot washing because it’s not about foot washing. :(

  34. Why not say it plainly, in terms so simple that even a low info Catholic can understand:

    The pope has the authority to derogate from liturgical law in a specific instance, for himself or for a particular bishop. However that does not change the law, which still applies to all others in other instances.

    No more than a violation of a federal law by the president changes that law, which still applies to everyone else.

    No need for fatuous interpretations or tortured explanations.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  35. Vecchio di Londra says:

    boxerpaws – The tradition is for the Pope to wash the feet of thirteen *priests* of different nations, to show a) the universal nature of the Church and b) the regard and love that the Holy Father has for the priests of the Church. Priests are even more under attack now than ever, so it behoves any Pope to show his unity with them.
    The older tradition was for the Pope to choose thirteen priests, not the usual twelve.
    There are two different explanations for the number – the first, the Christ’s Apostles were made twelve again in number through the addition of St Mathias, and became thirteen when Paul was called to be an Apostle on the Road to Damascus. The second explanation is that Pope Gregory the Great, who used to wash the feet of twelve poor men and invite them to his table: on one such occasion he saw a thirteenth man present – an angel sent God, to show him how important was his work of charity.
    This is related in Prosper Guéranger’s mid 19th-century work: ‘The Liturgical Year ‘.

  36. while it doesn’t set a good example the Pope can exempt himself,yes? no?

  37. Will Elliott says:

    frjim4321: I agree with the “ought,” but I prefer to deal in the realm of the real versus that of the ideal.

    But frjim4321, but frjim4321, aren’t we called to bring the real closer to the ideal?

  38. thank you Di Londra for the explanation.Had no idea.”Priests are even more under attack now than ever, so it behoves any Pope to show his unity with them.” true.

  39. benedetta says:

    When the Church decides in her wisdom to change the rubric through appropriate means, all who are obedient to her will be able to remain so.

    However it is obvious that the people who are agitating, “Faithful America” and their mouthpieces in the press, do not at appear interested in now aligning themselves with the Holy Father and the Holy Mother Church that he leads, at all. If they are not developing, with the communion of the Church, then, they are against. And their chosen tactic to foster division is to target particular people in ad hominem attacks, not respectful dialogue of ideas in a spirit of obedience and love for the Church.

    Has “Faithful America” and RNS reported this week on the Holy Father’s various recent pronouncements: “Abortion is an abominable crime” etc? No, not yet? Pretending it’s not there, didn’t happen? It did happen. I’ll give them time to catch up.

  40. jhayes says:

    . [There IS NO DOUBT of the law.]

    The practical question is whether a specific bishop believes there is a doubt. From the fact that about half of all footwashing rites reported in the poll here included women, it seems that many bishops have decided that they are not bound by the viri selecti language.

    Long before Archbishop Bergolio became Pope, he was already washing the feet of women at the Mandatum. It is not something that started only when he became Pope and acquired greater powers.

    [This is going in circles.]

  41. St. Epaphras says:

    Last night my non-Catholic husband informed me of the pope’s inclusive foot-washing ceremony again this year. His main point: The pope is the one in charge who should set an example of obedience. So why is he giving clergy the impression that it’s fine to disregard liturgical law? He was Extremely Unimpressed; disgusted would be more like it. He knows the Bible says that obedience is better than sacrifice (see I Samuel chapter 15).

    As for the many, many priests and bishops who have the motto of “I Did It My Way” — what kind of converts do they think they are going to get? Do they even want converts who would be docile to Christ in His Church? [Copied from my earlier comment in wrong place]

    I know MANY Protestants and Anabaptists who might possibly give the Catholic Church another look if they knew clergy and laity who believed and spoke what the Church actually teaches and obeyed canon law, liturgical law and all the rest (while maintaining a close and joyful relationship with Jesus Christ). Obedience out of the right motives is very impressive. Truth lived out is impressive. When fidelity to the Church was actually expected of all, the Church was indeed a force to be reckoned with. Now we often seem to be offering everyone out there the “Easy Button”. That’s not the way to get converts who have backbones.

  42. Michael_Thoma says:

    In the Syriac Tradition (Syro-Malankara Catholic/Orthodox, Syrian Catholic/Orthodox, presumably Maronite), this Rite is only preformed when by the Bishop; and I’ve only seen the Bishop wash the feet of priests, deacons, seminarians, or altar servers.

  43. benedetta says:

    Think of it this way…does this group wish to force things on the entire Church, by way of using various figures as props to support their tactics, because they love and care for the Church, her communion, her unity, her people? It’s not hard to read the writing on the wall here. It’s not because they love Pope Francis, or even because they are enamored of the notion of the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday, whether our Lord’s example, the priesthood, or selfless and holy service to others no matter one’s gender wherever one may be. Rather, they love, as an idol, the act of agitation and division and inciting hatred upon Holy Mother Church by those who wish to remain outside of her communion, and, the most important point being, to incite anger amidst those who are still within. Mark well.

  44. The Masked Chicken says:

    Sigh. I wrote a long series of comments, last year, outlining the Scriptural, historical, and theological significances of the foot washing. If anyone wants to dig through the archives they can find them

    Let me take on the objections in comments, one-by-one.

    First, from Jimmy Akin (whom I respect, greatly. I was a commenter on his blog for many years and we have exchanged many e-mails over the years):

    1. “First, as we mentioned, the number twelve is not mandated in the text. The number is the choice of the celebrating priest. That, right there, loosens the connection of the rite with the apostles.”

    Not, really. Ecclesiastical laws have to be as general as is possible to allow for differing circumstances. In times and places of war, famine, or pestilence, for example, it might not be possible to even FIND twelve adult males who can actually be at the Holy Thursday Mass. A pathetic example might be having a Holy Thursday Mass during an Ebola outbreak. This does not loosen the connection with the original washing of feet during the Last Supper. It is a practical accommodation to potential reality.

    2. “Second, this event is recorded only in John’s Gospel, and John does not describe Jesus as washing the feet of “the apostles.” Instead, John says that he washed the feet of “his disciples.”

    This might sound convincing until one realizes that John doesn’t use the word, “apostle” ANYWHERE in his Gospel. The word is, at best, ambiguous, but what is not ambiguous is the fact that only the Twelve were at the Last Supper, so, the word, “disciple,” in this context, is a cognate for the twelve apostles. By the way, Mark does not use the word, apostle, anywhere in his Gospel, so this is hardly a telling point.

    3. “Although they are sometimes used synonymously, Jesus had many more disciples than he did apostles.”

    Where are they during the Last Supper? Certainly, Jesus could have invited more than twelve of his followers. No, he invited exactly these men. Some of the content of the Farewell Discourse was directed at the priestly ministry and would have been confusing if more generic disciples had been there.

    4. “Third, none of the antiphons sung during this rite (which might give clues to its meaning) speak of the “apostles.” They either use the more generic term “disciples” or they do not mention the disciples at all but rather Jesus’ example for us and his commandment to love one another.”

    Antiphons are based on Scriptural texts. See response 2, above. The antiphon uses similar language to John’s Gospel, which used only the generic term, disciple, where the exactly reference to apostle or disciple was to be made in context. The context of the Last Supper was apostle.

    5. “Fourth, none of the explanatory texts for this rite explain it in terms of an action directed specifically to the apostles.”

    See response 4, above. Obviously, every Christian has an obligation to one another in charity, but surprisingly, neither the word charity nor love appears in Jesus’s explanation of what he was doing in the foot washing. It does, appear later in the Farewell Discourse.

    “When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?

    [Notice, it says, "done to you," not, "done for you." This would be more in keeping with the baptismal or confessional aspects of washing away sin]

    You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.
    If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

    ["One another's feet," is an in-group reference. It means things on a specific and a general level. Specifically, it refers to the men Jesus is addressing, which would refer to collegiality among the clergy. More generally, it refers to charity among the Faithful. Now, the problem comes with reading too much into this. "One another's feet," is an in-group reference, but taken in its widest possible scope, is Jesus commanding everyone, including non-believers, to wash the feet of non-believers? The question is what level of generality Jesus means when using the word, "your feet." Under general rules of Scriptural interpretation, when a passage is obscure, according to St. Thomas, the literal sense must hold. This implies the twelve, present].

    6. “51. 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, and its proper significance explained.”

    Clearly, the understanding on one level of Christ’s actions being about humility and service goes back to the Church Fathers. Augustine and Chrysostom both make comments about this and foot washing was a pious activity outside of the liturgy.

    The interpretation within a liturgical context that foot washing is primarily about charity, however, is of post-Patristic origin, from about the seventh-century, onward. Originally, foot washing was seen as a type of sacramental which came to be incorrectly associated with Baptism, according to Augustine, – so that it was often asked that foot washing be done one a day separate from the day of Baptism. It entered monastic use as a type of ceremony of charity and humility in the sixth-century as a custom in the Benedictine Order. However, while the abbot washed feet of guests (I’ll return to this in a minute), the cook washed the feet of everyone, once a week. As for guests, simply put, there were no women guests at that period in a Benedictine monastery, especially past the turnstyle. Thus, the only feet that were every washed were men’s feet. The point is that the connection of foot washing as a quasi-liturgical act to charity is not of ancient origin, but, began in the 6th or 7th century and gradually became more widespread outside of monastic circles by the twelfth-century. In the ceremonial document, of the period, Cæremoniale Episcoporum, bishops are directed to wash the feet of 13 poor men or 13 canons (there are legends for why 13 insteadof 12 which do not need to concern us, here). Interestingly, in earlier versions, the 13 canons’s feet were washed at the Mass and the 13 poor men at a separate dinner (Pope Francis, take note?). The chant, Ante diem festum paschae (written about 1260 A. D.), was to be chanted during the washing (excerpts from John 1 – 9):

    Ante diem festum paschae sciens Jesus quia ejus hora venit ut transeat ex hoc mundo ad patrem et cena facta surrexit linteo praecinxit se misit aquam in pelvem coepit lavare pedes discipulorum venit ad Petrum dicit ei Simon non lavabis mihi pedes in aeternum respondit Jesus si non lavero tibi non habebis partem mecum domine non solum pedes tantum sed manus et caput, etc.

    Eventually, the rite became codified at Trent as an option and re-established, with a bit more force, in the Mass of Pope Paul VI.

    It is true that some sovereigns (both kings and Queens) performed the washing, but this was not a liturgical rite and nowhere were any guidelines published. They were acting in an improvisational manner. Are there, by the way, any descriptions, that women’s feet were actually washed by men (kings?)?

    7. I do not want to re-do the extensive survey I did last year, but just to reiterate a few points:

    a. This scene is not just about doing something, but knowing something:

    “For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
    Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
    If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

    This sentence means that if you know that Christ is the Master, then you should do what he says to do. Note, too that disciples means, learner (from the Greek, mathetes).

    Properly, however, the entire section of this part of the Farewell Discourse has to do with Christ being sent by the Father and specific disciples being sent by Jesus.

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him…
    I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen;
    Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me.”

    Those specific disciples whom are sent as messengers of the Gospel (in the direct succession to Christ being sent) are called apostles. Thus, in this passage, Jesus makes a distinction, when necessary, between disciples, in general sense of learners, and the apostles, specifically, as those he will send. It, therefore, is of no consequence that the word, apostle, is never used, because the distinction was meant to be clear form context.

    Regarding foot washing, when Jesus is explaining why he did what he did, he says:

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me.”

    Clearly, “whom I send,” is a specific reference to the apostles. They are sent on their feet, which must be clean.

    As a liturgical rite, I find no use where anything but men can be used. It is, clearly, situated in an apostolic context. As a liturgical example, however, it applies to everyone.

    In sum, the tradition of the Church is for only men to be washed at the Mandatum. The examples of women and children being washed is of recent origin as far as a liturgical practice is concerned. As a laudatory practice from one Christian to another, it might have been done in years past, but the practice was, rarely, extended beyond Christians, to whom it would have made no sense. The word, mandatum, is the Latin equivalent of the Greek, entole, which, in addition to meaning commandment or order (from Jesus’s words, “I give you a new commandment (novum mandatum), love one another…”) also refers to certain precepts referring to the lineage of the priesthood in the Old Testament as well as precepts for priests to follow.

    The Farewell Discourse is mult-layered, to be sure, but as a liturgical practice, foot washing was done for the Twelve as a sign of their apostleship, for them as men as a representative of the people (in Jewish law, men represented the population), and for them as learners so that we might all learn the example of love. The modern tendency to wash the feet of non-males is a liturgical innovation, which, while having its place, weakens the depth of the original symbol.

    Pope Francis can do what he wishes, but I wonder if he realizes that he is making an already weak Church weaker by equating foot washing only with charity (has he ever washed the feet of priests as Pope?)? Love is not a jazz improvisation played by a soloist with back-up. It is a fugue, with the melody being passed from voice to voice until no one knows from whence it came nor towards where it goes. If he wants to make the foot washing only about charity, then that is his right, but I will be infinitely saddened if that personal choice passes down into the liturgical understanding so that the fine structure and nuance of the action, the depth of the action and not merely its width, is lost.

    The Chicken

    P. S. It seems to me that, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was violating the liturgical law. If he received permission, I do not know. If not, that is bad, as it seems to, ironically, violate the very thing he is trying to teach as Pope- obedience to higher authority in charity.

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  46. benedetta says:

    Thanks for that Chicken — I believe your analysis and your discussions with the reliable and edifying Jimmy Akin reflect how a reasonable discussion between believers within the communion might work.

    I would even go a little farther and say this. Nothing Pope Francis has done supports the only interpretation that this select group of divisive agitators (unethical journalists included) has in mind, their protest is only about attempting to shame and force the Church into accepting their premise that women have somehow a right to ordination.

    Pope Francis and Bishop Morlino are completely consistent and united in this. Neither Pope Francis nor Bishop Morlino are proposing Holy Thursday foot washing as an instrumentality to signal that the Church may ordain women to the sacred priesthood. Pope Francis has not washed the feet “of women” — i.e., the officious women types we all know and love in various parishes who believe they must be up there having their feet washed and that their presence there signals that they are more than Equal to a Church who Hates Women. No, Pope Francis has washed the feet of prisoners, of the wheelchair confined…of the homeless, men, women, children…Not some “women”. He is not washing the feet of these to establish women’s ordination.

    So if these agitators really love Pope Francis’ example then they will soon be heeding his call that the slaughter of unborn girls is a horrible and abominable crime, and will be Petitioning President Obama with Faithful America (sign me up!) to change the horrifically unjust laws which perpetuate a genocide in some parts of Faithful America. No?

    The other thing about this is it is just another example of Faketevism. Those reporters were really duped, man. How many American Catholics even attend Holy Thursday liturgy? Really. Only in the posh urban areas with the fabulous music and the fiery preachers…in most of America Catholics tend to go to something for Good Friday, maybe, and, Easter Sunday. So the notion that there are great numbers across the country who are pining for Women’s Feet at their liturgies more and more in a great grassroots movement is, well, hilarious…It’s the orchestration of a few who pretty much are going to harsh on the Church and her shepherds, no matter what.

    Surprised these journalists didn’t just pick up the phone and call Bp Morlino in the first place rather than assault him remotely and ad hominem through a correct document issued years ago…isn’t that standard operating procedure in professional journalism and ethics? From what I have seen of him on EWTN, Bp Morlino seems to be quite a very likable and friendly man, very down to earth, and he has a gift for explaining things in a genuine, simple, plain talk kind of manner. I’m sure he would have provided an updated understanding of his pastoral decision making if appropriately asked. So, faketevism, a non issue, targeting a good man…is this faithful America, our Church? Or is this a current from something else?

  47. Maria says:

    A Blessed Easter to All!

    The church I went yesterday was a Hispanic community. They had Holy Burial. I really did not know what this practice was. I just went to observe and to learn what other culture has in terms of Good Friday. In my country, Philippines, I grew up fasting on Good Friday (all Fridays of lent is fast and abstinence) and @ 1pm, we had the Stns of the Cross around our community (just think of the heat and the humidity). The 14th station ended up at the church. The church have different communities and all the 14th station ended up at the church and then at 3pm we had what we call The Procession … we had different statues of the saints and of course the last one was Jesus in a glass coffin adorned with sampaguita flowers (national flower). In front was the 12 apostles whose feet were washed on Thursday night. They had sashes of the saints name. My father was asked once and he had to research the name of the his saint … he was very proud to be one of the “saint/apostle”. I did not know that the Holy Burial is same as Philippine’s 3pm procession. Here is US, the Stns of the Cross is inside the church.

    My point.

    The Catholic church is already known to be charitable, it is the biggest charitable institution. We are everywhere … education, hospital, prison, slam areas, war zone areas, unknown areas of the world where help is needed. We serve … where there is material poverty … material poverty increases when poverty of the soul increases … we need our priests … for almost two decades now our priests are almost forgotten because of the few who have strayed away and was sensationalized by the secular world/media. We need to support them. I think it is important for the bishop to let his priests know that he is at their service just as Jesus was to his apostles in this time of need when the Catholic priesthood is looked down and questioned. Our priests, are our sacramental sign of service, the generous sign of total self giving and love of God.

    Yesterday, Jesus’ body on a decorated elevated board was carried by men. It was heavy and it was a long walk around the church (1.15hr). There was a change who were going to carry Jesus and they asked women at random to carry and I was shocked. I let go. There was really quite a number of men around. There was another change. This time, they were men, and then another change, women … then I started to murmur on men … “Men are supposed to be men, women to be women” … I saw smile from both men and women … and I continued … you men are supposed to carry heavy stuff, aren’t you men? … women again started to smile … and I continued … men are priests … you are to carry Jesus … women, Mary’s … we pray … on the next change a lot of men volunteered to carry Jesus and women are smiling, praying and singing …

    How can we encourage young men to be priest when they don’t see men as men?

    It would be nice if our “being merciful” and “being charitable”, only God knows and hidden from sprawling and questioning eyes. We have great saints to follow …

    We need to know our places … we need to be charitable in obedience honoring sacred tradition …

    Just my take …

    A peaceful and joyful Blessed Easter to All.

    God bless …

  48. Cathy says:

    Three things the Holy Father did not do, he did not do this in St. Peter’s , he did not wash the feet of those who are in service to care for the people within these, if you will, “peripheral” communities, practically speaking, no man’s land, and he did not bring them to the Sanctuary to wash their feet. I don’t know, I can’t help but think about the rich man and Lazurus in this. Had the rich man clothed and fed this man and dressed his wounds he may have recognized Lazurus, indeed to have been his greatest servant in this life. Instead, Lazurus, in the next life is utterly incapable of serving him at all. Yes, I think Bishop Morlino gets this and acts precisely in this manner, in going to the nursing home, a place where many find themselves alone and considered useless or a burden or of service in the age of efficiency if only they would commit themselves to dying sooner.

  49. benedetta says:

    You can tell when the Faketevists have become desperate when they start to attempt more and more ridiculous traps to attempt a faux dichotomy where none exists. I am seeing it myself quite often now where I am. If they love our Pope Francis so much and support the communion of the Church, let them give generously to their local parishes and dioceses and help the rest of us with our visits to the poor, the sick, the elderly, the dying, teaching, prayer vigils for prolife, and innumerable other good things which the Church accomplishes every hour of every day. And if they can’t join with us to do good, let them leave us in peace.

  50. acardnal says:

    jhayes wrote, ” . . . it seems that many bishops have decided that they are not bound by the viri selecti language.”

    Yes, and that’s unfortunate. Violations of the liturgical law and the rubrics in this regard is exactly how we got communion in the hand! The unlawful behavior became so commonplace over the years, that the bishops’ conference eventually asked for a formal waiver from the Holy See to authorize it. I wonder if that is what some bishops and clergy are doing now with regard to this exercise.

  51. Kathleen10 says:

    I can only speak for me. I would feel absolutely uncomfortable seeing a Bishop or priest washing the feet of a woman for two reasons. My visceral response would be the profoundly uncomfortable experience of seeing a man, clergy or otherwise, wash the feet of a woman, which certainly is personal. It would add an element that to me seems wholly out of place in the context of the Holy Mass, bordering on the weird. Secondly, even were it only tradition it would be upsetting to see that tradition abandoned, and I admit, it unnerves me that our Holy Father did it. One of the appeals of Catholicism is it’s predictability. I suppose some people can’t get enough “innovation” but I treasure the monotony of a 2000-plus year old faith. It’s nice to have something one can count on. Now we find we can’t even count on it due to all these “change agents” agitating and operating. I’ve said before our priest was prepping us for a few weeks because we were called Pharisees two weeks in a row if we had objected to the washing of women’s feet, because “Jesus broke tradition often and turned everything upside down when he spoke to the Samaritan woman”.
    Anyway Fr. Z. has helpfully instructed it is not just tradition but actual law. This changes everything and only increases the importance of the situation. I find less and less interest in attending any Mass where “innovations” like these are a goal or a byproduct. We appear to be developing two distinct camps which mirror the political realm quite a bit.
    Thank you Fr. Z. I do not find this subject unimportant at all. This is not trivia, if there is any in the practice of our faith. Thank you for caring and helping us understand this issue.
    Happy Easter to you Fr. Z., and to all here!

  52. MarkG says:

    >>> Michael Sherrard, Faithful America’s executive director [of... what exactly? Three people and a laptop?], says in a press release
    An excellent point about the Internet. Anyone can make a website look like it’s got a huge organization behind it.

  53. Joe in Canada says:

    Kathleen, I hadn’t thought of that first point before. Yes, in many places it would be considered at least unusual for a man to touch a woman’s feet in public. If this is supposed to appeal to a North American sense of “democracy”, then we have to assume no one in North America has ever watched Pulp Fiction, or at least the scene with the discussion about foot massages. When I worked more often in an Eastern Church it was explained to me once never to touch a woman in blessing her unless it was on top of a veiled head.

  54. Giuseppe says:

    Connecting the 2 stories in your post: Bishop Morlino was born in Scranton, PA. He graduated from Scranton Prep (Jesuit high school), joined the Jesuits, and went to Fordham. I am sure Pope Francis will happily exchange ideas with a fellow Jesuit. (Has he spoken with fellow Roman Catholic Scrantonians Senator Bob Casey, a Scranton Prep alum, and Vice President Joe Biden?)

    Pray for the people of the Diocese of Scranton. As noted above, the rector of the diocese’s St. Peter’s Cathedral (whose ordinary was once John Cardinal O’Connor, prior to his being named Archbishop of NY) was accused of sexual conduct with a teenage girl. This has rocked the diocese in ways far beyond the scandals of the 2000s.

  55. otter says:

    The men… Jesus washed the feet of his 12 male apostles (and perhaps others present at the Passover meal, even women). Then, when he needed them most, the men bailed on him. Except for John, it was the women who were faithful to Jesus in the end, risking their lives by staying close to him as he was tortured and killed. The women sat at the foot of the cross and witnessed his dying, waited by the tomb, came to anoint him, were first recipients of the Good News of his resurrection, and first to announce it. Yet the Church stays firm on male-only ordination because of those 12 (11 of them, at least) men who lost their courage and faith at the most important moment. Ironic. Fortunately, there are a multitude of women in our Church who continue to carry on the tradition of the women of Holy Week and Easter. Their strength, courage, compassion, service, and love are inspiring; and without them, especially in ministry roles, our Church would surely collapse. Thank God Pope Francis is enlightened about this.

  56. Otto,Peter denied Jesus 3x but Jesus still gave Him the keys, the power to bind and loose and made him the rock on which He would build His Church.