UPDATE 22 Jan: See the updates at the bottom.
___ ORIGINAL Published on: Jan 21, 2016 @ 10:42 ___
Today brought the news that the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) was ordered by Pope Francis to issue a document that allows for the washing of the feet of females on Holy Thursday in the optional foot washing rite during the Mass of the Last Supper in the Ordinary Form.
A letter from Francis to Card. Sarah, the CDW Prefect, dated 20 December 2014 but only posted today (21 Jan 2016) via the Bolletino notes that Francis had discussed this with Sarah previously. Francis is trying to “improve” (migliorare) the rites so that they express fully the meaning of Christ’s gesture in the Upper Room. Then Francis seems to lock into a certain interpretation of that gesture: “his self-gift ‘unto the end’ for the salvation of the world, his charity without boundaries”. Francis mentions nothing of the relationship of Christ with His Apostles. Francis then commands that there be a change in the rubrics of the Roman Missal, saying “sono giunto alla deliberazione … I have reached the decision…”.
This has been brewing for over a year.
In Card. Sarah’s Decree we read that “it seemed good to the Supreme Pontiff Francis to change the norm”. Thus, now: Missalis Romani (p. 300 n. 11) legitur: «Viri selecti deducuntur a ministris…», quae idcirco sequenti modo mutari debet: «Qui selecti sunt ex populo Dei deducuntur a ministris…» (et consequenter in Caeremoniali Episcoporum n. 301 et n. 299 b: «sedes pro designatis»).
I note, however, that – in the Missale Romanum – the group from which people might be selected is restricted to “Populus Dei… the People of God”, which means, I think, at least Christians. The Caerimoniale has different language.
So, the rubric changes from “viri selecti… chosen males” to “qui selecti sunt… those who were chosen”.
This unprecedented innovation will be in effect for the Ordinary Form this coming Triduum.
First, in the Ordinary Form the footwashing rite or “Mandatum” is optional. It need not be done at all. Neither can any bishop or priest be constrained to do it. Fathers, you can simply drop it. If you are being pressured to add women or girls to those chosen, don’t do the rite.
Second, this does not apply to the Extraordinary Form. Fathers. Think about it. ¡Hagan lío!
Third, just as in the cases of Communion in the hand and the use of altar girls, both of which were legalized after years of blatant disobedience to the law, this move by Pope Francis could be interpreted to mean that liturgical norms mean very little and, worse, that liturgy means very little. Thus, we move deeper into a brave new antinomian world. I suspect, however, that if you were to choose to make it up as you go (disobey) in the traditional direction rather than in the innovative direction, the world would be brought down on your head.
Fourth, see number two, above.
The moderation queue is ON. Please keep the spittle-flecked nutties to yourselves. I have enough of that in my email. Thanks in advance.
His Excellency Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison (where I am), stated (HERE) the following:
“I accept this change with loving obedience, as I always would,” Morlino said of the pope’s decision.
Local priests are now free to include women, Morlino said. But they can also still opt to skip the ritual altogether — it has always been optional — or “follow the traditional practice” of washing only male feet, which recalls Jesus having done so for his 12 male apostles, he said.
In a diocese where many progressive Catholics had found the male-only rule disagreeable, Morlino added that he hoped people will avoid “pressure tactics” and allow priests to make “good and prudential” decisions as to how they want to proceed.
“It is my hope that in their outstanding care for the people entrusted to them, the priests will engage serious prayer and reflection in coming to their choice of option,” Morlino said.
I provide this because I, too, am quoted in that article. The writer, predictably, tried to set my view against that of the local bishop. Fine. We’ve seen this game before.
I freely admit that I don’t like this decision from Pope Francis, for the reasons I stated above. That said, I do not deny the juridical authority of the Supreme Pontiff to change liturgical law, good idea or not. Also, I will not now say that priests who make the decision in the future to include females in the wholly optional Mandatum are violating the law. I won’t think it is a good idea, but they won’t – now – be violating the law. That doesn’t change the fact that, if they did it in the past, they were then blatantly violating the law.
His Excellency Bp. Morlino has the heavy mandate of guiding a diocese in charity according to the laws of the Church and in unity with the Successor of Peter. His desire to act always in harmony with the liturgical law is edifying. He did not ignore or violate liturgical law before this decision and he is not going to ignore or violate liturgical law now. He is admirably consistent in this matter as in other liturgical matters. Also, note well that his remarks reveal the respect that he has for the freedom of priests to make their choices within the bounds of the law. Again, admirably consistent.
UPDATE 22 Jan:
My friend Fr. Ray Blake has the following:
I apologise of all the faithful and beseech their prayers who in my misconceived arrogance have been excluded by my legalism.
I apologise in particular to those ladies who would have liked to have had their feet washed at the Mandatum on Holy Thursday and were excluded by my rigourism.
I apologise, you were right and I was wrong.
I apologise for teaching that this Rite was about Christ washing the feet of those twelve chosen to be Apostles rather than seeing it as a Rite that expressed Christ’s care for the world and for sinners and for the poor. I apologise for suggesting that this Rite was about Christ’s priesthood and the Apostles participation in it, I apologise for suggesting that this Rite was in any sense hieratic. I apologise for quoting the Pope Emeritus, and the schismatic Patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow in a sermon about this Rite. They were obviously misunderstood by me or were dealing with their own local situation. I was wrong, I was also mistaken. I humbly ask anyone who has been misinformed by me to in future to disregard any teaching I might have given at any time, and especially if I have claimed that it was the Church’s teaching.
I apologise too to the poor, I apologise to those my brother clergy who chose to ignore the written Law of the Church but nevertheless had the spiritual insight to understand the Spirit of the Law.
I have indeed been a Neo-Pelagian Promethean and I humbly promise in future to follow custom rather than any directives coming from the Holy See or printed in the Missal. I will indeed do my best to not to teach but to set people free to follow their own lights and inspiration.
I am humbly grateful for this change in the Church’s law, though because of the increasing stiffness in my knees for the last few years I have been unable to wash the feet of anyone.
One of the comments under his post was especially interesting…
Father, if you want to hold to the spirit of the Holy Father (and follow his own personal example) you should ignore the new communication from the CDW.
Following it would be nothing other than legalism.
Read the whole thing there.
UPDATE 22 Jan:
There is a good post from Joseph Shaw of the Latin Mass Society in England. HERE
The Mandatum: let’s not be hard on Pope Francis
It is tempting to see the decree allowing women’s feet to be washed on Maundy Thursday as an indication of an acceleration of liturgical decay underway with Pope Francis, following his breaking of the rule up to now. However, what has happened is no different from what happened under his predecessors.
[… He gives examples from Pope Francis’ predecessors…]
Let’s not get on a high horse about Pope Francis at this juncture. This is just another step, and not a particularly large one, in the development of the Ordinary Form away from Tradition, and it is not happening because of the personality of the Pope. It is happening because the Novus Ordo Missae of 1970 was unstable. It included a series of compromises which were never going to last. Given the direction of pressure, these compromises were always going to unravel the same way.
This is the real lesson to be learned. Attempting to shore up the totering edifice of the Novus Ordo with ferocious-sounding rules has failed. JPII and Pope Benedict didn’t manage it, and obviously – obviously – Pope Francis, though not a liturgical ‘meddler’, is not going to succeed in a project in which he has no interest. If it is collapsing, it is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions.