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  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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Posted in Biased Media Coverage, Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, Pò sì jiù, The Drill, The future and our choices | Tagged , , , , , | 56 Comments

Nancy Pelosi: Episcopalian foot washer!

Just think!  Over with the Episcopalians, Nancy Pelosi could both vote for public funding of abortion and also be a bishop at the same time!  She could even the “Presiding Bishop”!

From The Washington Times with my emphases and comments:

Nancy Pelosi has embraced her religious roots [which had hitherto been Catholic] and joined forces with Bishop Marc Andrus to — as she put it — “honor the dignity and work of immigrants” by taking bended knee and washing feet at Saint John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in San Francisco.  [Forget about the Last Supper, and all that stuff.]

Mrs. Pelosi’s official Twitter account sent out the picture of the Democratic House Minority Leader washing the feet of two children, alongside the bishop.  [And... I have to admit... she looks great in an Episcopalian church!]

And social media reaction was mixed, at best, with some accusing her of using the Easter season to stage a political prop. [Say it ain't so!]

Her tweet: “Honored to be in the Mission to assist Bishop Andrus as he washes the feet of immigrant families.”

And tweeted responses: “@NancyPelosi u r such a phony multi millionaire,” said one.

Another: “@NancyPelosi is this another dem voter registration drive?”

And one more: “@NancyPelosi this has to be the photo op of all photo ops!”

SFGate reported the Democratic leader did take advantage of the occasion to peddle some pro-immigrant policy, speaking to the crowd assembled of the benefits of HR15, a measure criticized by Republicans as amnesty.  [On the other hand, were a conservative to speak about something like this in church, she'd be accusing of politicizing the moment.]

Her office, however, claims it would “reduce the deficit by nearly $1 trillion, secure our borders, unite our families, protect our workers and provide an earned pathway to citizenship,” SFGate reported.

Ms. Pelosi’s foot-washing ceremony coincided with a similar ceremony that Pope Francis just performed in Rome, in honor of Holy Week ahead of Easter.  [No.  What she did in the Episcopalian church didn't coincide with anything that Catholics do.  And that's okay!  I think she has found a niche.]

I am reminded of the need for Romanorum coetibus.

If I were Jefferts Schori, I’d start watching my 6 from now on.


Fr. Longenecker has mordent comments about this.  HERE

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AUDIO PRAYERCAzT: Via Crucis by Bl. John Henry Newman

Some of you have asked me to post my recordings of the Stations of the Cross as individual posts. It seems that in iTunes only one of the four are available when I post multiple links.
Here is one.

This is my recording of Bl. John Henry Newman’s Stations of the Cross, the Via Crucis.

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AUDIO PRAYERCAzT: Via Crucis by St Alphonsus Liguori

Some of you have asked me to post my recordings of the Stations of the Cross as individual posts. It seems that in iTunes only one of the four are available when I post multiple links.
Here is one.

This is my recording of St. Alphonus Liguori’s Stations of the Cross, the Via Crucis. It is simpler than the one I posted yesterday. It doesn’t have the music, the Stabat Mater, between the stations.

Posted in Linking Back, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, PODCAzT, PRAYERCAzT: What Does The (Latin) Prayer Really Sound L | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

LENTCAzT 45 Good Friday

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Today is Good Friday of the Sacred Triduum.

Examine your consciences.

Have you made your good confession?

Today we hear something from the wonderful  CD of music for Lent by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.

These daily podcasts for Lent are intended to give you a small boost every day,

This project during Lent has been a token of thanks to my donors.

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POLL: 2014 Holy Thursday Foot Washing Rite – what happened?

The rite of washing of feet, or Mandatum, is an option in the Roman Rite.

Let’s have a poll.

But first, the Church’s liturgical law is not ambiguous: only males can be chosen for this, and they should be men: viri selecti.  Virmeans “man” and cannot, cannot – period – mean a female.

NB: I am not trying to be speciesist.  The Roman Rite still limits this to human beings.

Furthermore, despite what Facebook proposes (there are 57 “genders”) the race is still limited to two sexes.  Therefore, I edited one of the answer options from “and only males and females were chosen” to “and males and females were chosen”.  Please know that I am trying to overcome my speciesist tendencies.

So, what happened where you went to Holy Thursday’s Mass, assuming, of course, that you went.  Otherwise, if you did not go, perhaps you know what happened by word of mouth or by reading the bulletin, etc.

Chose your best answer and add a comment in the combox, below.

The 2104 Holy Thursday Mass I attended ...

View Results

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Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, POLLS | Tagged , , , | 143 Comments

Thank you for something!

Our Lady, thank you.

One more step.

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Francis’ Chrism Mass Sermon: priests are very small

Today His Holiness of our Lord preached a sermon on the occasion of the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday.   He spoke with eloquence about the priest and priesthood.   He spoke especially about joy, departing from the “oil of gladness” which we speak of on this day.  I am not happy with the English translation, nor in simply reading it.  It is better in Italian and via listening and watching the video.

He spoke about how small a person the priest is.  He is poor, useless, ignorant and frail unless….  The Holy Father also spoke of the Evil One.

We are anointed “to our bones”.

There are a few triples and a couple home runs herein.

Here are some samples:

Dear Brother Priests,

In the eternal “today” of Holy Thursday, when Christ showed his love for us to the end (cf. Jn 13:1), we recall the happy day of the institution of the priesthood, as well as the day of our own priestly ordination. The Lord anointed us in Christ with the oil of gladness, and this anointing invites us to accept and appreciate this great gift: the gladness, the joy of being a priest. Priestly joy is a priceless treasure, not only for the priest himself but for the entire faithful people of God: that faithful people from which he is called to be anointed and which he, in turn, is sent to anoint.  [I think we can legitimately add that ordination is also for the priest himself.  But that is not the emphasis of this sermon.]

Anointed with the oil of gladness so as to anoint others with the oil of gladness. Priestly joy has its source in the Father’s love, and the Lord wishes the joy of this Love to be “ours” and to be “complete” (Jn 15:11). I like to reflect on joy by contemplating Our Lady, for Mary, the “Mother of the living Gospel, is a wellspring of joy for God’s little ones” (Evangelii Gaudium, 288). I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that priest is very little indeed [il sacerdote è una persona molt piccolo...Literally: the priest is a very small person.  The priest is very small.]: the incomparable grandeur of the gift granted us for the ministry sets us among the least of men. The priest is the poorest of men unless Jesus enriches him by his poverty, the most useless of servants unless Jesus calls him his friend, the most ignorant of men unless Jesus patiently teaches him as he did Peter, the frailest of Christians unless the Good Shepherd strengthens him in the midst of the flock. No one is more “little” than a priest left to his own devices; and so our prayer of protection against every snare of the Evil One is the prayer of our Mother: I am a priest because he has regarded my littleness (cf. Lk 1:48). And in that littleness we find our joy. Joy in our littleness!

For me, there are three significant features of our priestly joy. It is a joy which anoints us (not one which “greases” us, making us unctuous, sumptuous and presumptuous), it is a joy which is imperishable and it is a missionary joy which spreads and attracts, starting backwards – with those farthest away from us.  [It is common for Jesuits to take three points. Call it a "triple".]

A joy which anoints us. In a word: it has penetrated deep within our hearts, it has shaped them and strengthened them sacramentally. The signs of the ordination liturgy speak to us of the Church’s maternal desire to pass on and share with others all that the Lord has given us: the laying on of hands, the anointing with sacred chrism, the clothing with sacred vestments, the first consecration which immediately follows… Grace fills us to the brim and overflows, fully, abundantly and entirely in each priest. We are anointed down to our very bones… and our joy, which wells up from deep within, is the echo of this anointing.  [Nice image.  Yes... the outward signs are also important.  They signal interior realities.]

An imperishable joy. The fullness of the Gift, which no one can take away or increase, is an unfailing source of joy: an imperishable joy which the Lord has promised no one can take from us (Jn 16:22). It can lie dormant, or be clogged by sin or by life’s troubles, yet deep down it remains intact, like the embers of a burnt log beneath the ashes, and it can always be renewed. [Nice.] Paul’s exhortation to Timothy remains ever timely: I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands (cf. 2 Tim 1:6).

A missionary joy. I would like especially to share with you and to stress this third feature: priestly joy is deeply bound up with God’s holy and faithful people, for it is an eminently missionary joy. Our anointing is meant for anointing God’s holy and faithful people: for baptizing and confirming them, healing and sanctifying them, blessing, comforting and evangelizing them.

And since this joy is one which only springs up when the shepherd is in the midst of his flock (for even in the silence of his prayer, the shepherd who worships the Father is with his sheep), it is a “guarded joy”, watched over by the flock itself. Even in those gloomy moments when everything looks dark and a feeling of isolation takes hold of us, in those moments of listlessness and boredom which at times overcome us in our priestly life (and which I too have experienced), even in those moments God’s people are able to “guard” that joy; they are able to protect you, to embrace you and to help you open your heart to find renewed joy.  [This is profoundly true.  Priests often find great strength and hope and reinforcement of courage and focus in the help of laypeople.  We are, after all, oriented to each other.  At the same time, and I would like to offer this as a point of reflection for some readers here, often priests find lay people pouring cold water on our flame and coals.]

A “guarded joy“: one guarded by the flock but also guarded by three sisters who surround it, tend it and defend it: sister poverty, sister fidelity and sister obedience.

The joy of priests is a joy which is sister to poverty. The priest is poor in terms of purely human joy. He has given up so much! And because he is poor, he, who gives so much to others, has to seek his joy from the Lord and from God’s faithful people. He doesn’t need to try to create it for himself. We know that our people are very generous in thanking priests for their slightest blessing and especially for the sacraments.


Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to fidelity. Not primarily in the sense that we are all “immaculate” (would that by God’s grace we were!), for we are sinners, but in the sense of an ever renewed fidelity to the one Bride, to the Church. Here fruitfulness is key.


Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to obedience. An obedience to the Church in the hierarchy which gives us, as it were, not simply the external framework for our obedience: the parish to which I am sent, my ministerial assignments, my particular work … but also union with God the Father, the source of all fatherhood. It is likewise an obedience to the Church in service: in availability and readiness to serve everyone, always and as best I can, following the example of “Our Lady of Promptness” (cf. Lk 1:39, meta spoudes), who hastens to serve Elizabeth her kinswoman and is concerned for the kitchen of Cana when the wine runs out.

[... READ THE REST THERE...  He speaks of new priests, veterans and now... this is great...]

Finally, on this Thursday of the priesthood, I ask the Lord Jesus to make better known the joy of elderly priests, whether healthy or infirm. It is the joy of the Cross, which springs from the knowledge that we possess an imperishable treasure in perishable earthen vessels. May these priests find happiness wherever they are; may they experience already, in the passage of the years, a taste of eternity (Guardini). May they know, Lord, the joy of handing on the torch, the joy of seeing new generations of their spiritual children, and of hailing the promises from afar, smiling and at peace, in that hope which does not disappoint.

An observations.  His Holiness Benedict XVI also reflected deeply on the theme of joy and priesthood.  He has a book called Ministers of Your Joy.

Posted in Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

AUDIO PODCAzT: Via Crucis by Joseph Ratzinger

Here is another of my recording of the Stations of the Cross, this time by Joseph Ratzinger in 2005 for Good Friday just before the death of St John Paul II and his own election to the See of Peter.

I hope this shows up in iTunes for you.

As requested.




Posted in LENTCAzT, Linking Back, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, PODCAzT, PRAYERCAzT: What Does The (Latin) Prayer Really Sound L | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

AUDIO PRAYERCAzT: Via Crucis by St Alphonsus Liguori (with chant)

Some of you have asked me to post my recordings of the Stations of the Cross as individual posts. It seems that in iTunes only one of the four are available when I post multiple links.

Here is one.

May I ask a prayer in return?

Posted in LENTCAzT, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, PODCAzT | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment