I was alerted that at the Q&A section of EWTN’s site, a questioner made a claim about me that is not true in the context of a question about the washing of feet on Holy Thursday.
Here is the exchange:
RE: Washing women’s feet on Maundy Thursday
Question from Dan on 3/12/2008:
You mentioned recently in an answer to a post that for pastoral reasons some archbishops can wash womens feet on Maundy Thursday.
This is wrong.
I have contacted Fr. Zuhlsdorf at WDTPRS who spoke with the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments just recently. Father was informed that the document Paschale Solemnitas forbids, in every instance, the washing of women’s feet on Maundy Thursday. [This is not true. I have never said that I spoke with anyone in the CDWDS about this matter. I was not informed by anyone at CDWDS about this matter.]
The rubrics of the 2002 Missale Romanum retain the words, viri selecti, which as you know literally means, "chosen men." [No it doesn’t. It means "chosen males". Vir is first and foremost an indication of the sex of the person and only in the second place does it mean man, in the sense of adult male.] "No conference of bishops, individual bishop, or pastor has the authority to change this." [The last thing is an accurate quote. But … NB: I wrote – "on his own authority". If a bishop were to consult with the Holy See’s CDWDS and get some sort of permission, that is a different matter. However, no one on his own authority can take it upon himself to change the rubrics on this point.]
Only men may have their feet washed on Maundy Thursday.
Answer by Catholic Answers on 3/12/2008:
The only published statement we have at this point is the response by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) to Cardinal O’Malley that an archbishop may make a pastoral decision to admit women to the footwashing ritual on Holy Thursday (source). [See what I wrote, above.] A phone call between a priest and a representative of the CDW — as I gather from your report that this was — does not rise to the same level of authority as clarification on a rubric given to an archbishop by the CDW. [Absolutely correct.]
Please understand that I do not personally favor the inclusion of women in this ritual because I think the symbolism of twelve chosen men more fully expresses the historical action of Christ washing the feet of his Apostles. However, my purpose here is not to promote my own opinion or to make my preferences binding on the consciences of others, but to explain what the Church does and does not allow. In this case, it appears that the Vatican is allowing for the inclusion of women in this ritual at the pastoral discretion of a bishop. [This is misleading. That was an individual instance. It cannot be assumed that any bishop can therefore make this decision. Also, I suspect that that was an ad hoc permission for Boston, which may not even apply to this year. That itself might need a clarification.] We may hope though that Rome will at some point choose to more fully address this matter and either definitively affirm the provision of Paschale Solemnitatis for "chosen men" or to definitively set it aside. [You know… it seems to me that the present law is perfectly clear and that there is no further need of clarification.]