What is Pope Francis really saying?

Here is what I think Pope Francis is up to.

In this explanation I am not necessarily endorsing specific things that he is doing (washing the feet of females in a prison) or not doing (refusing the mozzetta, etc.).

I am trying to get at what I think Pope Francis is really up to.

Before liberals and traditionalists both have a spittle-flecked nutty, each for their own reasons, try to figure out what he is trying to do.

Firstly, we are not succeeding in evangelizing.  We are going backwards, globally.  Francis knows this. This has to be foremost in his mind. This fact was probably foremost in the considerations of the College of Cardinals.  How could it not be?  So, Francis is faced with the obligation to address the problem of evangelization.

In the wealthy west, the Church is often perceived (and it is so very often portrayed) as not being compassionate.  The Church doesn’t care about women in crisis pregnancies (and therefore we don’t condone abortion or contraception because we are not “compassionate”). The Church doesn’t care about the divorced and remarried (because we don’t admit them to Holy Communion and therefore we are not “compassionate”).  Likewise, getting down into the nitty-gritty of defending small-t traditions and fighting over their meaning, their larger value, history and worth today, we are not compassionate (because we talk about the details of worship we are therefore ignoring the real needs of people and we are therefore not compassionate).

There are all sorts of ways in which people have lost the sense that the Church is actually about compassion, properly understood.

I think what Pope Francis is up to is trying to project, re-project, is an image of the Church as compassionate.  He is trying to help people remember (or learn for the first time) that she is actually all about compassion, charity in its truest form.

We’ve lost the message and we have to get it back.

For example , in his sermon for the Chrism Mass he indicated that priests need to be edgier, take more risks in getting out there with people.  He is probably thinking (like a Latin American bishop might with enormous slums in the diocese) that you depart from certain things for the sake of connecting elsewhere.

You risk being over-interpreted or losing control of the message for the sake of getting the real message out there again.

I’ll wager that, as a Jesuit, Francis doesn’t care about liturgy very much.  He is just not into – one whit – either what traditional liturgy types or what liturgical liberals want.

Some liberals live and breathe liberal liturgy.  On the other end of the spectrum, such as the undersigned, traditional Catholics think that liturgy is critical but for different reasons (“Save The Liturgy, Save The World“, comes to mind). Francis isn’t invested in either of these camps.

For Francis, I think, it is more a matter of “a plague on both your houses”.

Putting it in a vague way, Francis wants people to leave Mass feeling “joy”, or something having to do with the “kingdom”, etc.  As he said at the Chrism Mass he wants people leaving Mass “as if they have heard the good news”.

Look.  I am not saying his is the right approach.  I am saying this is what I think he is doing in his liturgical and personal-style choices (where he is living, what chair he sits in, etc.).

Francis wants priests to talk to people and find out what they need and get involved in their daily struggles. Liturgy, for Francis, seems to be involved precisely in that. Do I think Francis may be missing huge points in this approach?  Sure, right now I do.  But I am leaving the jury out.

I don’t have to 100% embrace what Francis is doing even as I struggle to see and understand what he is up to.

I am quite sure, however, that Francis isn’t trying to ruin what Benedict and John Paul before him tried to construct. He is up to something else.  He is getting at the problem of the Church not making any headway in evangelization.

Here is a problem.

Liberals will find it far easier than conservatives to claim that Francis’ actions are endorsements of their liberal thing.

Remember this: Liberals could give a damn about the gender of the person whose feet are being washed.  Their focus is really the gender of the one doing the washing.  Liturgical liberals are included in this.  They only care about the washing of the feet of women, because ultimately they want women to do the washing.  This is about the ordination of women, not about their feet.

Before these liberals start taking their victory laps, I would remind them that Francis is not going to touch doctrine.  He has clearly talked about the Devil.  He has spoken clearly before his election about same-sex stuff as discrimination against children.  He has firmly fought Liberation Theology.

What liberals forget in their present crowing is that even as Francis makes himself – and the Church – more popular by projecting a compassionate image, he will simultaneously make it harder for them to criticize him when he reaffirms the doctrinal points they want him to overturn.

Bottom line.

Francis is pushing out to the world (ad extra) an image of compassion.  I think he is correcting both sides, within the Church (ad intra), which may both be, both sides, losing the forest for the trees: we are not succeeding in evangelizing and we cannot sacrifice doctrine for the sake of mere popularity or worldly acceptance.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Classic Posts, Francis, Liberals, My Favorite Posts, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, The Drill, The future and our choices, Throwing a Nutty, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Marcello says:

    I think a great deal has to do with him being a Jesuit, as you say. I have never known a Jesuit personally who gave a care about the liturgy, one way or another. So maybe we should not read too much into Pope Francis’ style as it emerges. Now if he doesn’t wear the mozzetta for the Via Crucis, well all bets are off!

  2. vox borealis says:

    I am quite sure, however, that Francis isn’t trying to ruin what Benedict and John Paul before him tried to construct.

    I agree with this, but I think he’s going to have the effect—and very soon—of undoing a great deal of what Benedict did. Moreover, he is giving lots of ammo to those who want to put the worst possible spin on Benedict’s pontificate.

    I’m not throwing a spittle flecked nutty. But I am coming quickly to terms with a sinking reality that the Benedictine reform is dead in the water. Yes, the priests were empowered and shown a fine example, but there was not enough time for momentum to develop or for the biological solution to take its effect.

  3. St. Louis IX says:

    Jesus Mercy

  4. Robbie says:

    I suppose my concern isn’t that Francis is washing the feet of a Muslim in a prison or not wearing the mozzetta. My concern is that Francis is projecting the image that he knows better. As Father Z wrote last week, Francis risks making this look like it’s all about him. I certainly don’t think that’s his goal, but that’s an impression that can be drawn from his actions.

    It’s been a whirlwind two weeks since Francis was chosen so we all must give him time, even if we are uneasy about some of what we’ve seen. Hopefully, Francis will come to realize some of the outward signs of traditions he’s chosen not accept aren’t a sign of a disconnected Church, but a reflection of the traditions and beliefs that have made the Church endure for 2000 years.

  5. benedetta says:

    Well said, Fr. Z.

  6. Geoffrey says:

    Excellent post, Father! Thank you!

    God sends to the Church the Pope she needs when she needs him. We needed Blessed John Paul II when we did. We needed Benedict XVI when we did. And now we need Pope Francis… many of us may be scratching our heads about that, but nevertheless. Trust in God.

  7. Joboww says:

    I had similar thoughts, thank you father!

    The Reform of the Reform is a ground up thing guys, dont expect to see the full bloom of the fruits in our lifetimes. Do the hard work now and God will reward you. And even if its all for none then Glory to God!


  8. dawneden says:

    Good and thoughtful analysis, Father–thanks!

  9. Lavrans says:

    I am happy that I do not have to like the liturgy of the Holy Father, any of them for that matter, and can remain Catholic. I’ll leave it at that.

  10. nanetteclaret says:

    I don’t think it matters any more what he’s trying to do. He now has no moral authority, since he flouted the norms – and the usual result of flouting norms is chaos.

  11. donato2 says:

    Thank you Father but I am having a spittle-flecked nutty anyway. Pope Francis has an enormous responsibility toward the liturgy and adherence to canon law. His love for the poor and for people on the margins is admirable and winsome, but it is not necessary in the least to bless a liturgical abuse in order to demonstrate love for an outcast. In choosing to engage in a liturgical abuse much loved by liberals, he has not put any pox whatsoever on the liberal camp. Rather, he has endorsed that camp’s views about the liturgy. He at the same time has undermined the Vatican’s authority, which is his responsibility to uphold. Why should anyone take what the Vatican says seriously if the Pope doesn’t?

  12. Lucas Whittaker says:

    I share your concerns. And I also share your enthusiasm. The benevolent way that people from every walk of life receive Papa Francis is compelling. For so many reasons only an authentic witness of charity will be accepted by those outside who desperately need to breath the air of the Holy Spirit within the walls of mother Church. It so far appears that we have just that sort of autheticity in Pope Francis. Maybe we will see relativism set aside for the beauty of truth because of the effect that his kindness has on the people who are touched by our new Holy Father. Anything could happen! This is certainly a great time to be alive.

  13. david andrew says:

    Simply put, I’m scandalized, confused and frightened.

    Beyond that, I have no words.

  14. mamajen says:

    I agree with you on all counts. While I’m not certain that he is going about things the right way, I am certain of two things: 1) I sure as heck am in no position to say what exactly he should be doing to fix the Church (what an immense and complex task!) and 2) none of the decisions Pope Francis has made so far have any impact on me whatsoever. I can, should, and will continue to do my best to live my faith under whatever circumstances I find myself. I can’t give up or allow myself to grow bitter just because everything isn’t perfect, and I’m not going to worry about things beyond my control.

    I will also add that I thought his sermon for the chrism mass was spectacular.

  15. O. Possum says:

    I am a bit concerned about this, not because I think washing the feet of women is the lynchpin of the Catholic faith, but because Pope Francis is setting an example that it’s OK to break canon law.

    Dr. Edward Peters has a great, level-headed as always, post on this:


    I see all those who have been abusing the liturgy and violating canon law as being validated. I see the Bishops who won’t apply Canon 915 as being validated, even lauded, for standing up to that big bad Canon Law.

    This is what pops in to my mind, but I’m new to the CC and don’t know much about these things, so Fr. Z., please relieve my fears.

  16. mamajen says:

    p.s. It’s not Pope Francis’ job to worry about what people will say about Pope Benedict, Pope John Paul II, or any other previous pope. If that’s his top concern, nothing that needs to be done will be accomplished.

  17. Lavrans says:

    The associated press article has some giddy liberals celebrating this. As always, I know that popes and bishops often have the best intentions…but it almost always ends up causing confusion and scandal. It reminds me of when Benedict mentioned condoms in that interview with Peter Seewald. It was completely misunderstood and it took much heavy-lifting and hand-wringing by others to make it not sound heretical. I fear the same this time. Why do these men of God have to make our job as Catholics harder? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

  18. Priam1184 says:

    I don’t know about any of this. We live in an insane age that thinks it has the right a complete understanding of every single thing we see at the moment it passes before our eyes. I do fear that Francis’ papacy will be a tragic one because of all the expectations (and I even hear these from the priests in my own parish) heaped on the poor man from the instant he walked out on the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square; it isn’t called the ‘room of tears’ for nothing I suppose. In any case the man has barely been pope for two weeks, and a month and a half ago he was thinking only of the concerns of his Archdiocese in Buenos Aires without a second thought to the papacy, so give him a break. His papacy may turn out to be a disaster for the Church in which case it will be our Cross to bear patiently and without complaint, but then again it may not be so bad and may even might be a good thing. And no matter what your opinion of his recent actions PRAY FOR POPE FRANCIS with all your heart because he needs it.

  19. Priam1184 says:

    might even be a good thing!!! Fr. Z you really need to enable an edit function on these posts…

  20. Bob B. says:

    My first thought when “existential(-ism)” was used (as reported by the Cuban cardinal of the soon to be pope) was: (Jesuit) de Lubac, Nouvelle Theologie, and Pope Pius XII’s Humani Generis (“…some opinions threatening to undermine the foundations of Catholic Doctrine>”)

  21. poohbear says:

    david andrew says:
    28 March 2013 at 5:12 pm
    Simply put, I’m scandalized, confused and frightened.

    Beyond that, I have no words.

    I too am scandalized, confused and frightened, but I have many words. I don’t know how I can stay in a church where the pope not only refuses to refer to himself as pope, but refuses to follow church law. If he breaks one law, what assurance do we have he will not break more. I am not convinced that he will not change any doctrines. So many Jesuits want women priests, abortion and SSM. I can’t feel good about him not being in that camp. This foot free for all has scandalized me unbelievably. This, I fear, is only the beginning of the end. The only constant I have ever had in my life has been the unchanging Church. Now that too is gone. It will be a sad. sad Easter.

  22. Phil_NL says:

    Liberals will find it far easier than conservatives to claim that Francis’ actions are endorsements of their liberal thing.

    And there is what has me worried most (aside from episcopal choices, perhaps). Francis may have said that the Church isn’t an NGO, but his emphasis on compassion-and-humility makes it that any liberal can portray it as such. In fact, any liberal (as measured relative to the societal mean) will see it that way too, as they won’t give a tenth of a penny about salvation and all the other elements that sets the Church apart from your run-of-the-mill NGO.

    At the end of the day, the Church must be compassionate, and it’s certainly helpful to be regarded as such. But the Church’s mission is not to alleviate poverty – I’d go so far as to say compassion can never strike a decisive blow against poverty; only good governance (freedom and rule of law) can do so. the Church mission is first and foremost to get souls to Heaven.

    To make it clear: I’m not saying Pope Francis has any other mission in mind. But what he does, is thusfar giving a wholly different impression. And impressions count too.

    PS: got an error message first time around, so apologies if this turns out to be a double-post.

  23. pseudomodo says:

    “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

    – Richard Nixon

  24. acardnal says:

    I agree with everything you said Father Z, especially the point about him being a Jesuit and not being really focused on the liturgy. Unfortunately, I don’t believe returning to tactics and techniques from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s is going to evangelize anyone! It is what got us into the mess the Church is in today. (I note he is 76 years old so perhaps that is a factor.)

    I wonder if he will write any encyclicals, exhortations, letters and so forth? (Has there ever been a Pope in the last couple hundred years who did not write anything?)

    I would also like to see some longer homilies that better explicate his goals and beliefs.

    Finally, some of your swag may be an appropriate Easter gift, e.g., “Say the Black, Do the Red” right now.

  25. Marcello says:

    The great danger is that however well intentioned Pope Francis may be, others will interpret the gestures toward their own ends which will, in the end, do no good for the Church. I agree we should give him some breathing room but flouting law and tradition only undermines his own authority so that for all the help he wants to bring to the poor, the world will pay very little mind to what he has to say. After all, the next guy may change it all anyway, so what’s the bother?

    I still do not think he has grasped the enormity of his office. He is not a bishop of a struggling Third World diocese. He is the Supreme Pontiff and should not only look but act the role. The humble little pastor of the poor is endearing to many pious souls but Mammon will tire of it very quickly and turn on him in a New York minute; what moral authority he has now will vanish in the blink of an eye.

  26. Ambrose Jnr says:

    I hope you are right in your analysis, Fr Z.

    I noticed that for the Holy Mass in prison, the number of candles had also been reduced to one at each side…If pope Francis is not bothered liturgically, why would he order this change as well, going against a simple Benedictine arrangement?

    Maybe God is telling us that the novus ordo is beyond a reform of the reform…maybe we should be looking forward to its abolisment some time in the 21st century, to be replaced by the vetus ordo or the byzantine mass all over the world.

  27. RecoveringFeminist says:

    IF washing of women’s feet is a liturgical abuse, to whom would we report that abuse as provided for in Redemptionis Sacramentum?

    Deo Gratias!

  28. Desertfalcon says:

    I join in agreeing with the thrust of your comments, Father. He is not who we chose. He is not who the Cardinals chose on their own. He is who the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church until the end of time, chose, and that, I put all my faith in that.

    As a p.s., it was worth reading your comments just so I could see, “spittle-flecked nutty” used in a sentence. :-)

  29. Dr. K says:

    I don’t think it matters any more what he’s trying to do. He now has no moral authority, since he flouted the norms – and the usual result of flouting norms is chaos.

    I don’t know about losing moral authority, as he is the pope and infallible in that regard, but I think it will be difficult for Pope Francis or the CDWDS Prefect to address reports of liturgical irregularities while the Holy Father is breaking rubrics himself [without modifying them beforehand as far as we know].

  30. Potato2 says:

    That is a charitable way to look at what he is doing Fr Z.
    I never thought it possible but less than a month into this papacy it is safe to say it is a failure. Go ahead, jump all over me and say it has only been 2 or 3 weeks blah blah blah. If indeed we look at this in the best possible light as Fr Z just did. It reeks of incompetence and ignorance. Or he could be doing something on purpose. Many were saying that the next Pope needed to be someone who could speak through the modern media. Well, message heard loud and clear Francis!
    If he is not doing this on purpose, he is incredibly naive.
    Once the modern leftists and the media get a toe in the door they open it with great force. We were already getting our brains bashed in by the secular liberal world. Now, by showing them “compassion” it will only be taken as a sign of weakness. The wolves will redouble their efforts.
    It was hard enough to fight for Truth when we had an Orthodox Pope. Now, this will disintegrate very very quickly. Francis strikes me as a very powerful man. As a very forceful man. The media portrays him as meek and humble but his actions have been hostile and aggressive.
    If you are going to do mental gymnastics and twists to fit this Pope into Traditional Catholicism and explain away every thing he is doing you will go Mad Fr Z!
    This battle is LOST! This Pope has done more for the progressives in 2 weeks than The last 2 Popes have done in 30 years for traditionalists.
    And we are arguing if he is doing it on purpose or not!?
    It does not matter. The damage and scandal is just as damaging no matter what the intent.
    A Pope elected by the curia, at a time when people were talking of cleaning the curia… and this Pope diminishes the Papacy. Uh oh!
    God help him.
    God help us.
    God help the world.
    God help our Church.
    God help me see that I am wrong…..

  31. Alex P says:

    If a Pope is prepared to simply ignore whatever he wants it doesn’t bode well. People may put a positive spin on what he is doing- but it seems at the moment that the Papacy is all about him and not much else. In terms of liturgy it seems he doesn’t give two hoots about beauty or reverence, and doesn’t seem to care about following the rubrics as laid down. I fear a succession of deeply depressing events during the course of this pontificate, events that will do nothing to help bring about Christian unity, and do everything to push many people over the edge towards sedevacantism. Hand on heart I feel they have elected the wrong man, and we are doomed to a return to 1970s style bland liturgy and catechism that is just monumentally awful, with emboldened liberals thrusting their heretical ideas onto impressionable young minds.

  32. donato2 says:

    As for me, the dam is breaking. I hoped against hope that all the signs weren’t true, even as they were mounting: reportedly endorsed civil unions, reportedly spoke dismissively of the Regensburg address, showed no care for the liturgy while archbishop of Buenos Aires, reportedly said that some priests over emphasize sexual morality and that this is an impediment to evangelization, and seems hostile to the primacy of Rome. There is no doubt about it: at the liturgical level and level of sensibilities, he is an out an out liberal. Like poohbear, I too fear that these attitudes will infect doctrine. Here however we must have faith, faith in Christ’s promise that the gates of Hell will not prevail. Our faith requires only that the Pope not teach error in matters of faith and morals. Jesus did not promise that none of the successors of Peter would trash the liturgy or flout canon law.

  33. keithp says:

    “I am trying to get at what I think Pope Francis is really up to.”
    Why would we HAVE to figure out what he is up to?

    I’m very much afraid that Dr. Peters is correct. Why reform the law when it is easier to flout?

    Very much saddened to witness this by the Holy Father as well as the apologists working over time to excuse.

  34. catholicmidwest says:

    Liberal and conservative are passe. Neither one of them is an ecclesial or theological category. They were misapplied in the first place, and became entrenched ways of thinking about the Church, and by extension, the whole Catholic religion. But they really don’t pertain properly to what Christians are up to, and have been up to since the Resurrection. We, and the Church herself, are about something else entirely.

    I have read that Pope Francis is an avid reader of Scripture. Perhaps, like St. Francis before him (who was also an avid reader of Scripture), he’s rather less interested in all the allegories and trappings of religion and more interested in the Scriptures and the life of Christ. It wouldn’t surprise me, given his past in Buenos Aires and the choice of his papal name, Francis.

    But take heart: The so-called “liberals” shouldn’t get too jolly about this. He’ll offend them soon enough too, if I am right about him. I honestly think that you hit the jackpot, Fr Z, when you said, “For Francis, I think, it is more a matter of “a pox on both your houses””.

    There is one thing I wouldn’t agree with in your comments. I don’t think he is just pushing an “image” of compassion. I think he’s trying to help us refashion what that means, in light of what Christ really would have thought, which is neither the typical 21st century “conservative” or typical 21st century “liberal” version, both of which are baloney.

  35. Gallia Albanensis says:

    Ambrose Jnr said …
    Maybe God is telling us that the novus ordo is beyond a reform of the reform…maybe we should be looking forward to its abolisment some time in the 21st century, to be replaced by the vetus ordo or the byzantine mass all over the world.

    I doubt very much that the New Rite is utterly beyond reform, in fact its short term trajectory seems to be frequent reform. But a whole “Byzantine World” is the stuff that dreams are made of, IMHO.

  36. Rellis says:

    Silver linings:

    1. Can anyone imagine this level of liturgical knowledge, general outrage, and public education ten years ago? We’re much stronger and more knowledgeable than we were in the “pro multis” days.

    2. Any pastor worth his collar won’t want anything to do with the foot washing ceremony after this. He can’t win. So this might be the death nell of this Bugnini innovation.

    3. The ne0-evangelists can’t hope against hope anymore. They have nowhere to hide, and frankly owe the traddies an apology. Going forward, they are going to have to decide whether obedience in liturgy and beauty matters or not to the new evangelization. It’s a time for choosing for those folks.

  37. Potato2 says:

    ” he will simultaneously make it harder for them to criticize him when he reaffirms the doctrinal points they want him to overturn.”

    Don’t hold your breath. This pope has not shown one iota of wanting to reaffirm anything.
    And when he, as cardinal, tried to reaffirm something so simple as Marriage and Life he was defeated, not only was he defeated but he made concessions in the argument that one who was on the side of Truth would not.

    Saying this Pope will not be the Obama/Oprah messiah these people want is wishful thinking. And wishful thinking with no proof at all of being true.

  38. As Geoffrey said, “God sends to the Church the Pope she needs when she needs him.” Amen! Thank you Father for this post.

  39. Potato2 says:

    The Church will survive anything the world can dish out. The Church can survive bad Popes, bad liturgy, bad evangelization. I just hope that we don’t have to” survive” I fear the worst and hope for the best.
    I guess one can say Pope Benedict the XVI was more “Catholic” than the Pope….. What strange times we live in.

    It is possible if you give him enough rope…..

  40. A few weeks ago would breaking liturgical law have been considered productive to evangelization at this blog?

  41. Robbie says:

    I wanted to respond to two thoughts mentioned by others. First, someone said the Holy Spirit chose Francis. I would disagree with you and so would the former Cardinal Ratzinger. In 1998 I believe, he wrote that the Holy Spirit does NOT choose the Pope and the best evidence of that is the fact we’ve had some bad Popes (Alexander VI, Urban VII).

    Second, someone mentioned that much of what we’re seeing has to do with the fact Francis is a Jesuit. I suspect that has played a huge role, but Francis is no longer a Jesuit who happens to be the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He’s the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t believe he should cast aside all that has formed him life, but the Papacy is bigger than just being a Jesuit, correct?

  42. Sword40 says:

    One card at a time, Pope Francis is showing us his philosophy. I agree with Vox Borealis that the reform of the reform is toast. It’ll slide into oblivion and be replaced with all that many of us have fought against for 40 years. Many of our Bishops that have wavered on the edge will swing back to the “left”.
    Having said all that, I must add that this is our Cross to carry for at least 6-10 years. Perhaps the pendulum will swing back next time.

  43. “He is who the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church until the end of time, chose, and that, I put all my faith in that.”

    Don’t you think that statements like this ought to be corrected?

  44. Traductora says:

    Excellent comments! Although I don’t see any reason why the liberals should see him on their side…he hasn’t said anything which would make me think he embraces their favorite causes (gays everywhere, priestettes, mandatory abortions for all, and the Church as a votary of the left wing state).

    I don’t think liturgy in itself is important to him, in the sense of Novus Ordo vs EF, but I don’t think he’d go for sloppy, undignified worship, either. He does things very correctly. I was in Rome for Palm Sunday and saw him, and he celebrated the mass with great dignity. JPII was horrible on liturgy, and while BXVI permitted the old rite again (or officially stated that it was permitted all along), he never celebrated it himself and the Vatican, under him, never enforced SP – disobedient bishops still got away with blocking the old rite. So I don’t know why there’s so much handwringing about Pope Francis.

    I think you summed it up when you said “We’ve lost the message and we’ve got to get it back.”

    Also, I don’t know how a priest would feel about this, but I thought the things he said to and about priests today were very beautiful and very wonderful.

  45. DaveM says:

    I only have one problem with what Pope Francis did. He should have FIRST revised the official liturgical rules, and then went ahead and washed women’s feet. I love Pope Francis a lot and think he is a holy man, but this is the sort of thing that can cause division and a lack of obedience to spread.

  46. catholicmidwest says:


    A month ago, some people found that quote from Benedict XVI pretty scandalous. Interesting, no?

    Also it’s not that Pope Francis is either a Jesuit OR the Pope. He’s both at the same time. Some people are having trouble getting their heads around that, but it’s a fact. The only thing that’s changed is who answers to whom regarding obedience pertaining to the Jesuit Order. Now the Father General of the Jesuits answers to Pope Francis rather than the other way around.

    Cardinal O’Malley has a similar situation in Boston. He’s a Cardinal, the Ordinary of Boston, and a Capuchin, all at the same time. In his case, he still answers to the Minister General of the Capuchin Order, but only on issues of personal obedience. He is the real ordinary of Boston.

  47. Mary T says:

    Just a quick note to Bob B at 5;20 – most people use “nouvelle theologie” as a pejorative, but if they do so, they are insulting John Paul II, who spoke of Hans urs von Balthasar as his favorite theologian and was in the process of making him a Cardinal – rarely is someone raised from priest directly to Cardinal! (but Balthasar died before it happened) as well as Benedict XVI, who also drew very, very heavily on de Lubac and Balthasar and who founded the journal “Communio” with them – the faithful answer to Hans Kung’s “hermeneutics of rupture” journal, Concilium.

  48. Robbie says:


    I agree with you on the second point. Francis is both a Jesuit and Pope. Maybe a better way for me to have written that would have been to say is he a Pope who happens to be Jesuit or is he a Jesuit Pope? Maybe that’s a distinction without a difference though.

  49. MarcAnthony says:

    I was extremely hesitant about reading the comments here. I was right. I regret this immediately and this may be the last time I reas the comments on this blog about a post on Pope Francis.

    Shame on all of you calling his papacy a failure. He is our Holy Father, the Pope of the universal Church. Less than a month in for us to judge his papacy a failure is an inexcusable lack of faith. Show some respect.

    “I share your concerns. And I also share your enthusiasm.”

    Excellently put, Lucas. While I’m not sure how much I agree with the Holy Father, I stand by him.

  50. PA mom says:

    I think you’ve got it, Father.
    See, my family is nearly all former Catholics, who think I have a screw loose for having come to so deeply love the Church. One GOES to Church, really, in SPITE OF the actual Church. There are so MANY weeds in their hearts, our new Pope is already touching on some of them. The weeds must come out, and he is in a good place to do it.

  51. gretta says:

    Bishops and popes are given the power to dispense, which is a relaxation of the law, for particular circumstances and for what they deem to be a “just and reasonable cause.” Check canons 85-93. So many people are looking at the Pope’s actions as him breaking the law, when it may be that in this particular case he, since there is no authority above him, formally dispensed the law in this case for himself. Bishops grant dispensations for any number of matters, and he may have seen this action as worthy of being dispensed of that law. It is a legitimate power given to bishops and can be for a single instance, or for multiple instances where he feels that the law should be relaxed in a certain circumstance but not changed overall.

    I say this because it disturbs me when people say “the pope now has no credibility because he broke the law.” Well, if he simply dispensed himself from the law, exercising a power validly conferred upon him, then he isn’t breaking the law or ignoring it, he’s dispensing himself from it. These may seem like the same thing, but they are not.

  52. catholicmidwest says:

    Actually, Sword40, it’s even more interesting than that. The Catholic Church in the West is in the middle of a demographic crash. It’s already occurred in Europe and it’s happening here as we speak. Conditions in and around the Church are much, much different from what they were 40-50 years ago. What happened then cannot recur, simply because of the crash we’re undergoing and because it’s not 40-50 years ago. We’re going into a new period, while keeping the same Lord Jesus, the same Scriptures & the same deposit of Faith. This has happened many times in the history of the Church, and well, it’s happening again. Hang onto your hat.

  53. Imrahil says:

    Rev’d dear @Fr Z.,

    that was a very thoughtful, good analysis.

    Frankly, I do not believe even the “liberals” will pull a great deal out of women’s feet being washed. What they, as you said, care for is the sex of him who washes the feet. (If they do, 99% it must be said it was the traditionalists that gave them the ammo. They’d not have so much as known the rule, if it had not been discussed before.)

    Dear @nanetteclaret,
    being moral and fulfilling norms are different things, even if they have to do with each other. And technically the Pope can dispense with the norms.

    Whatever we think about the action, and these consequences, in itself, but is “acted contrary to the word ‘viri’ as in the rubrics of Holy Thursday” supposed to mean “lost completely all moral authority”? Really? Come on!

    it can hardly be denied it is often the wrong people who rejoice about the Pope.

    And about the “footwashing:men only” – the battle is, hereby, lost. Maybe not the war; but the battle is. It may very well be that canonically the law still says “men”. But what about binding force in conscience? Can you imagine a priest who Confesses to have done such a thing, when the Pope has done it?
    And “The Pope has done it” is actually an argument; the law now probably has, certainly seems to have and probably actually has, lost binding force in conscience (unless reestablished by official confirmation by the bishop for his diocese, or the Pope himself).

  54. Suburbanbanshee says:

    To be fair, St. Philip Neri did some pretty strange liturgical things in pursuit of humility. And he _did_ have a strong feeling for liturgy, so it wasn’t about that.

    I saw the news briefly at work today, but now don’t have a chance to get on the blogs until I get home. So I had a chance to process this a bit. And yes, the Pope acted with disregard for the law.

    But it’s pretty plain also that, to him, footwashing is more a rite about the priestly/diaconal character of the priest doing the washing, and less about the priestly (potentially as male, or actually as one of the faithful) character of the lay faithful receiving the wash. Indeed, not at all about priestly faithful, or even the faithful. It’s all servant-in-charge, to him.

    Also, we require a Photoshop that says “Honey Bergoglio Don’t Care.” :)

  55. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I’m not saying I approve, mind you. I’m just saying what I think his thing is.

  56. poohbear says: I don’t know how I can stay in a church where the pope not only refuses to refer to himself as pope, but refuses to follow church law. If he breaks one law, what assurance do we have he will not break more. I am not convinced that he will not change any doctrines.

    I, too, fear for what will happen to the liturgy under this Pope — and especially after Pope Benedict is no more — but no Pope can change doctrines, ever. It simply cannot happen. That the Holy Spirit will never permit, no matter who is on the Throne of Peter. If, through some bizarre and totally unthinkable set of circumstances, Aleister Crowley himself were elected Pope, and came in determined to retract the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, it could never happen, even with all the devils of hell backing it. God would convert him; or strike him dead; or send in an army of invading Visigoths, if necessary, but not the smallest hair on the head of the least binding doctrine of the Church would ever be harmed.

    We have an example of this in our own time, with Pope Paul VI and Humanae vitae. As a man, Paul VI had many shortcomings; introduced vast and rapid changes in the Church; permitted the liberals to run riot; and failed to defend those who stood for tradition. On this weak man was brought to bear acute and overwhelming pressure from within and without the Church to change immemorial doctrine and say that contraceptives are permissible. Even his pontifical commission recommended this change. Had he done so, he would have had the acclaim of the world. Yet he did otherwise — because the Holy Spirit guides the Church.

    The Holy Spirit will allow the Church to be chastised — and I think He is doing this right now, because we are so unfaithful. He will let her come right up to the edge of the abyss. But He will never let her fall in.

  57. AvantiBev says:

    Thank you for this post, Father Z and your thoughts. It reminds me of what the great Father George Rutler said several years ago in a sermon about our pathos over logos society (Fr. was arguing for equal measures rather than bathing in pathos). He said that there were in history books mentions of The Bronze Age, The Iron Age, The Age of Faith, The Age of Reason, etc. He was pretty sure ours would be characterized by some future historian as The Age of Sentimentality.

  58. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Although if he dispensed himself, that’s at least legal and thus not a matter of disregard.

  59. Lynne says:

    In order to save the village, we had to destroy the village.

  60. Here’s what I’m observing, and I think it would be very hard to refute this observation:

    Premise A – The pope’s word is law.
    Premise B – The pope’s word is [insert my own opinion disguised as an interpretation of a (thankfully) very ambiguous statement or action on the part of the Pope.]
    Therefore – [Insert my own opinion disguised as an interpretation of a (thankfully) very ambiguous statement or action on the part of the Pope] is law!

  61. Charles E Flynn says:

    For those who would like to read what Pope Francis has written, plenty of reading material will be available in April:

    Ignatius Press to Release Four Books by Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis)

  62. Jackie L says:

    Would it not have been an act of humility to simply follow the law? Did Pope Francis commit a mortal sin by disobeying?

  63. StJude says:

    I guess I just dont get the big deal.. he washed some prisoners feet. Isnt that a good thing? What must that have meant for those young people… he might have just changed the course of their lives.

  64. alanphipps says:

    “I was extremely hesitant about reading the comments here. I was right.”

    Yeah… and consider that for Christ the mob went from “Hosanna!” to “Crucify Him!” in about a week. The annual “foot washing” fight was lost long ago in most parishes. That doesn’t mean it’s not important (it is).

    But I think Fr. Z. is here doing a very good thing, and I agree with him and the spirit in which he is studying Pope Francis and pontificate. Thank you for your diligence in your ministry, Fr. Z., and I wish you a blessed Triduum.

  65. ebl says:

    Can you explain to me how washing a girl and on top of it a muslim girl feet is done according to the rubrics of the mass. I dont see the connection of this to humility . To me its more like “I don’t give a damn about the tradition of the church. ” It more like pride and instead of Christ as the center of liturgy, Its more like a shining the limelight on the Pope. Breaking traditions and to change them according to one’s own ideas, is quite egocentric and prideful. … it is a false showboat form of humility. A truly humble man guards tradition, preserving it intact and passing it on unmodified to the next generation

  66. Janol says:

    Given Gretta’s comments above, I’ll mention something which disturbed me a bit when I read the Holy Father’s first Angelus address — he praised Cardinal Walter Kasper’s book on mercy (not translated into English as far as I know) and referred to him as “un teologo in gamba” which I’ve read is street Italian for “a good/clever/dude theologian”. It gave me pause since there has been for many years what is sometimes referred to as the “Kasper/Ratzinger Debate”. It seemed at the very least to be an insensitive remark coming at that time.

    The theological debate on ecclesiology, on the relationship between the universal and particular church, has had its practical repercussions in discussions of whether bishops may independently interpret/adapt universal norms to what they think is most beneficial to the welfare of souls in their dioceses, e.g. administering communion to divorced and remarried Catholics. It may be that what Pope Francis is really saying is that mercy trumps judgement/canon and liturgical law.

  67. It seems that Pope Francis is trying to appeal to the Eastern Orthodox in down-playing the notion of the papacy. And on some level it is working. But what he tends to ignore is that most Orthodox people have nothing but ridicule for what passes as Novus Ordo ala 1980, which some of what we are seeing now rfelects back to . And generally Jesuits are not held in high esteem either. He might get support from Patriarch of Constantinople for many different reasons. But the fact is the Russian Church is really the major player and beautiful liturgy is very important to the people. He needs to get rid of his favorite liturgical duds and follow the direction of Msgr. Marini if he wishes to have any real impact. Having said that his love of the poor and generally pastoral air is a real plus for him. Hopefully he knows how to listen to wise counsel.

  68. catholicmidwest says:

    You know, he’s trying to reform the Church by example in the style of St. Francis. I’m spellbound by it. Either you’re watching something breath-takingly historic and very holy, or you’re watching something really, really foolish. One or the other. Only time will tell which it is. Either he has more guts than anyone I’ve ever seen in my life, or he’s willing to be totally dependent on God. Or both.

    I wondered when Jorge Bergoglio took the name of Francis whether this is what he was going to do or not, because there has never been a pope named Francis.

  69. Sal says:

    Dear Fr. Z,
    I consider myself a fairly orthodox Catholic and fairly conservative. That being said, I don’t see a big deal here when the Pope washes the feet of a female.

    Frankly, I had no idea that there was even a restriction. I had a hunch that in Italy and particularly the Vatican they might have a tendency to avoid this, but more out of tradition than anything else. I am 58 and in my Diocese of Spokane they have been washing the feet of females on Holy Thursday for as long as I can remember. And keep in mind that we are not a particularly liberal diocese.

    I also have a general sense that it would likely be the case that there are very few parish priests or bishops in the US that would decline to have females among those whose feet are washed on Holy Thursday.

    It is sort of like the argument that there are apparently some priests who do not allow female altar servers or lectors. Until a few months ago when I read it here, I had never heard of any issue in the U.S. Its a big country, but I do not think I have been living under a rock either.

  70. dbwheeler says:

    To poohbear and david andrew : My friends in Christ, just keep your eyes on Jesus, read the Catechism and the Bible, pray and ask for the prayers of our Blessed Mother and our Saints and be thankful for all the many joys and blessings to be found in the Sacraments and in the little things that make life worthwhile. We’re going to be tested and we must keep the faith. “Be ye not afraid”.
    If I were you I wouldn’t waste my time speculating about what is going on in Rome right now. As I said in a post the other day, I feel we’re on a slippery slope and it’s imperative to keep focused on Jesus. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart. Lean not unto thine own understanding.” We’ve been given all that is needed but we must trust and obey our Lord and Church teachings. Thank God they’re all written down…let us write them on our hearts!

  71. Nancy D. says:

    What is Pope Francis really saying when he states that the Moslems worship the same God as Christians do?

  72. Lori Pieper says:

    Thank you, Father Z; that is very honest and well-stated.

    To me, it seems Pope Francis is asking the Church to “go out of herself.” He has used that idea several times, especially today, and it was in his pre-conclave talk to the cardinals as well. In essence, he is saying, “Enough navel-gazing as a Church. Let’s not worry so much whether the boat is as well-adorned and pretty as she should be. We need to grab those nets and put out into the deep.”

    Or (to totally switch metaphors), we need to go after those lost sheep. I listened to the Vatican radio version of the prison Mass, or at least some of it – I sort of skipped ahead to the homily. Listening to it I nearly cried, because the Holy Father’s voice was so loving and gentle. How tenderly he fed those bedraggled lambs with milk. He told them that because he was a priest in imitation of Jesus, he had to serve them; and then he did.

    Our new Pope has a truly blessed gift for evangelization. People are literally dying spiritually all over the world for lack of what we have to give, and Francis is showing us how. Everyone ought to be thanking God for today’s beautiful example to all priests and all Christians; they should not waste time carping about this or that. Concern for liturgy has its place. Questions about canon law have their place.

    Evangelization has the first place, everywhere and always.

    Specifically about the liturgical question, I find it hard to understand what the fuss is about. Gretta is totally right. As I read Dr. Peter’s blog (http://www.canonlaw.info/a_footfight.htm), I see that he noted that permissions can and have been given (I presume he means by the Congregation for Divine Worship) to individual bishops to allow women’s feet to be washed at the Holy Thursday Mass. If permission needed to be granted, I’m sure the Pope can grant it to himself; I believe he actually outranks a mere Vatican Congregation. He is not breaking the law, but dispensing himself from it. Dispensing himself from the letter, in order to better fulfill the spirit of a rite, which, as the CDW says: “represents the service and charity of Christ, who came ‘not to be served, but to serve’ (Matt XX: 28).”

    And what if this catches on and all dioceses want to do it? I for one, would find it a great improvement a merely navel-gazing washing of each others’ feet at Mass could cease and be replaced by the priests of every diocese going to the local prisons and homeless shelters and celebrating Mass there and washing the feet of the poorest of our brothers and sisters as Pope Francis did. And what if those who take enormous amounts of time carping in comboxes about how uncomfortable and distressed they are (it’s always I, I, I, isn’t it?), by co-ed foot-washing, instead used that time to do some more of this kind of service for others.

    Maybe some priest whose parish Masses couldn’t afford and would hardly have time for, all the magnificence of some papal Masses, looking at Pope Francis’ humble and austere style of celebrating, without chant and without frills, and his deep reverence, might say to himself, “Hmm, I guess you don’t need a lot of bling (forgive me) to celebrate the Mass magnificently.” Stranger things have happened. Pope Benedict always celebrated the Novus Ordo in public for the purpose of showing priests how to celebrate it properly and in style. Pope Francis is doing the same in his own way.

    Is all this truly that hard to figure out?

    That’s enough for a good kitchen-sink comment. Sorry to have rambled so much. Hope I did not step on someone’s toes.

  73. WesleyD says:

    Fr. Z, I think your description is spot-on. I think that all orthodox and traditional Catholics should read your post and really think about it … really grok it.

    The next pope may — hopefully will — continue the tradition-based “reform of the reform” of the liturgy that Pope Benedict XVI so wonderfully began. Perhaps he will be aided by a curia that will not be fighting him, tooth and nail, if Pope Francis succeeds in removing those individuals and subcultures in the curia whose agendas are orthogonal (or even antithetical) to Christ’s.

    In the meantime, my hope is that Pope Francis may begin the healing of the schism between the Catholic Church and the liberal Catholics. Although not a declared schism, it basically is one in many places in the West. Many liberals view Francis with curiosity and even positive emotions, whereas they were set against Benedict from day one. If they see how much Francis cares about the poor, and how humble he is, then when he talks about the Real Presence and praying to saints and contraception and sexual immorality and the fact that Jesus alone is the source of salvation, some of them will listen to him!

    Of course, Benedict himself was truly humble and cared deeply about the poor … but the liberals just could not see that in him, because they had already categorized him as a “conservative”.

  74. pseudomodo says:

    A person can give a good example and a person can give a poor example. Francis may have given us both at the same time.

    I think he could have solved this (as the churches chief legislator) by simply issuing a Motu Proprio modifying the Mandatum. Problem solved.

  75. wecahill says:

    “For example , in his sermon for the Chrism Mass he indicated that priests need to be edgier, take more risks in getting out there with people. He is probably thinking (like a Latin American bishop might with enormous slums in the diocese) that you depart from certain things for the sake of connecting elsewhere.”

    Father, with all respect, I heard all this stuff in the 60’s and 70’s. It didn’t effectively evangelize anybody then, and I have no confidence that it will be more successful now. My attitude is to hunker down and await the coming storm, and pray that we will have the strength to persevere. When the storm breaks, all the departures from tradition will not buy any good will or forbearance from the world. Rather, they will be a source of weakness.

    I tell you naught for your comfort,
    Yea, not for your desire,
    Save that the sky grows darker yet
    And the sea rises higher.

    O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

  76. BLB Oregon says:

    “What is Pope Francis really saying when he states that the Moslems worship the same God as Christians do?”

    He means that it is their intention to worship the God of Abraham to the best of their ability. He didn’t say they have all their facts straight.

    “Can you explain to me how washing a girl and on top of it a muslim girl feet is done according to the rubrics of the mass. I don’t see the connection of this to humility . To me its more like “I don’t give a damn about the tradition of the church. ”

    The Twelve were surprised to see Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman, too. It was a surprise when Peter baptized the house of the Roman official, Cornelius. Not everything that takes us by surprise is the wrong thing, not when it is done with someone who has the office to work according to principle instead of by rule. That is not to say that a Pope can’t put his foot wrong. He can rightly put his foot where someone else in the Church wouldn’t have the authority.

  77. southern orders says:

    Thanks for this Fr. Z! I’m a papist, always have been and always will be, not that I have liked everything every pope has ever done. The Holy Father may be showing us a third way, not to the progressives’ liking or to the traditionalists’ liking but the third way that collapses these categories into a single tradition and I think you hit the nail on the head in terms of the Holy Father’ direction.
    The washing of the feet is not an ordination rite, never has been and never will be. And in terms of the ones we wash in parishes, even if all male, some of them are married, so does that exclude them? No! And normally none of those whose feet we wash will ever become a deacon, priest or bishop, but they will act, God willing, priestly in their domestic Church the home.
    The rubric has been changed for decades in most places of the world by default whether we like it or not. Pope Francis who has changed it in Argentina wasn’t about to go backwards in his mind in Rome.
    It’s a little “t” tradition and in his short non academic homily at the prison he reinterpreted the rite and I think the right way.
    In terms of his style of liturgy, I’d say it is “ad orientem” in ethos. He celebrates the Liturgy beautifully with great dignity, care and devotion. He doesn’t play to the congregation one bit. And his personality is subdued in the liturgical rites.
    God bless our Pope Francis and long may he live.

  78. JARay says:

    Poohbear says ” This, I fear, is only the beginning of the end. The only constant I have ever had in my life has been the unchanging Church. Now that too is gone. It will be a sad. sad Easter.”
    A friend who has been absent from the Church for years now, wrote to me and said that with the advent of Pope Francis he might now come back to the Church.
    I replied to him that Truth does not depend on who is the Pope. Truth is true because it is true. Something cannot be true and false at the same time. It is either one or the other. Something cannot BE and NOT BE at the same time. One is a Catholic because, as Jesus said I am the way, and the truth and the life and that is where the deposit of truth is. It is not dependent upon whoever is Pope at any one period of time. We have had popes who are saints and others who were rogues. The truth of the Church did not change according to the actions of the pope. To change one’s allegiance because of the actions of someone else is the height of silliness.

  79. frjim4321 says:

    Remember this: Liberals could give a damn about the gender of the person whose feet are being washed. Their focus is really the gender of the one doing the washing. Liturgical liberals are included in this. They only care about the washing of the feet of women, because ultimately they want women to do the washing. This is about the ordination of women, not about their feet.

    Hmmm, I don’t think that’s necessarily true at all. I think it’s about including a representative sample of the worshiping community in a ritual during the Mass of The Lord’s Supper. Frankly I think a vast number of advocated of the ordination of women have already “left the building.”

    That being said, I have found a great deal of hope in the election and inauguration of Pope Francis, and the feeling I have in general is that of being able to breath again. I think we’ve finally come up to the surface after being submerged for decades.

  80. Therese says:

    I asked myself, were I the devil, what would I want for Easter? The answer, of course, is the uproar we’re having now.

    I do not have the good fortune of living in a conservative/traditional-minded diocese. (If I revealed which diocese, many on this thread would be shocked. X diocese has such an appearance of tradition that even the liberal bastion next door would be surprised.) On the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross, 2007, four of our priests ‘came out’ regarding the TLM. All had made preparations quietly for years, betting against the odds–one beginning in his seminary days, I believe. They did not enjoy support from the bishop, and not all their fellow priests reacted well. (I don’t hesitate to use the word cruel in certain instances.) But the law is now on their side, and they are making a difference, although progress sometimes seems awfully slow.

    What I’m trying to say is, yes, it would be great if Francis were another Benedict, but he’s not. If the only time we can expect to make headway toward liturgical renewal is when a conservative pope is sitting, then I agree, let’s pack up and quit right now–isn’t there anyone else who finds this notion utterly ludicrous? Since when has any lasting change come from the top down? If we’re going to have reform, it MUST be implemented from the bottom up. (Think about that the next time you run across one of those “This means YOU” ads.) I’m sorry Pope Francis isn’t observing his own rubrics; we should be honest and admit that few priests do. We can hold them to a higher standard. We must be both patient and persistent.

    And we need the good natured pluck of the little boy who, when shown a pile of manure, joyfully attacked it with a shovel. “With all this @&$%,” he said, “there has to be a pony in here somewhere!”

    Somewhere, in all this @&$%, is a reform of the reform.

  81. Hank Igitur says:

    Fr I wish I shared your certainty about his intentions in regards to the issues you raise. I do not share your confidence, especially in regards to the Liturgy. Things appear to be “spirit of VII” full steam ahead despite the approach of humility and trying to make the Church relevant to those who have dismissed it as uninterested in the unfortunate of this world. The “reform of the reform” is over and the approach, whatever the direction it is headed in is more like that of a heavy earth mover than a piece by piece approach. There will be a lot more surprises to come as he breaks with tradition at every opportunity.

  82. RobertK says:

    I couldn’t agree more than what Hieromonk Gregory said!. The Orthodox love a beautiful liturgy. And many of them are Ex-Roman Catholics for that very reason. Plus other things as well!.

  83. CatholicByChoice says:

    I can just see it now:

    “Four Feet from Heaven,” a Biography of Pope Francis.

    Or alternatively: “Pope Francis: He Failed to Toe the Line.”


  84. Lucas Whittaker says:

    Maybe I should not speak for the majority here and then, maybe doing so is safe for me: We all loved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. I use love in the past tense fully aware that he REMAINS with us, but his hand will no longer move papal decisions. Because we found so much goodness and light in Papa Bene we are bound to be skeptical about his successor. But Papa Francesco is an individual just as every previous Holy Father has been. Because of that I humbly suggest that we take a few steps back and take up an attitude of patience and trust that our mother the Church is in the hands of Jesus Christ who prays for us even now. As much as I love and appreciate what Il Papa Emerito has given to us (so many gifts in so few years!) I believe that orthodoxy will prevail even now in the hands of “il Papa il cui nome è Francesco”. The world desperately needs to be incorporated into the true vine, Jesus Christ. If il Papa can reach others in the world that have before now been beyond our grasp then we have gained our brother back from the dead and we should celebrate as our Father receives his Pridigal Son. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and make the commitment to be patient as we witness this new Holy Father act for the good of the Church. Allow him to make some mistakes as a sign of the patience that I mention. Give him time to work out a plan as he gives himself to the difficult task of going out from the 99 sheep to search for the lost one. As he suggested in one of his holimilies or talks, let us accompany him in our prayers and by attempting to build bridges to others in our own lives. Patience is required for all of this. Patience is a mark of charity and charity is a precept. So let us all become more patient and acompany Il Papa while he searches for the lost sheep. “Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom . . . I do not ask to see the distant scene; one step enough for me. Lead Thou me on!” (Newman).

  85. pfreddys says:

    I have a friend who always says that even the most anti-Rome protestant admires St. Francis because of his charitable deeds.

  86. Pingback: So, the Pope Washed Female & Muslim Feet on Holy Thursday | Defenders of the Catholic Faith | Hosted by Stephen K. Ray

  87. Mitchell NY says:

    Well if this is his plan I wish him Good Luck. It seems more like a “shifting” of groups or numbers…….again…..Sure you will get some new people into the Church with this method and at the price of others being fed up with the instability and disorientation. Yeah, we all know it is on your soul leaving the Church but that doesn’t stop them. People leave for the very chaos that they are going through now. The “Catholic Come Home” thing that has been going on the last few years probably brought in some people. People who may have left during the crisis years because they saw something familiar in Benedict and the Church. More stability etc. And now they will exit in distrust and with resentment. So in the end it is the shifting of numbers. And I don’t believe at all this is the right approach. The Church is supposed to be a huge umbrella where everyone can take shelter and feel at home. The continuing shifting of groups, reaching for one while putting off another is a lose, lose situation. What surprises me most is the hubris with which this is being done and at such a rapid pace. Did no one learn of the dizzying effect this had in the 60′ and early 70’s ? For a Pope to subject the Faithful to this, with no explanation doesn’t strike me as humble at all. At least with each symbol or restoration that Benedict did there were explanations, reasons grounded in sound Tradition and logic. Setting himself against Benedict’s reforms and John Paul II’s conservative moments is how it is coming off to folks. And Rome knows that which makes the silence about why day after day all the more deafening.

  88. poohbear says:

    @ Sal, you have been living under a rock. This is part of the problem. Too many Catholics have no clue about liturgical right or wrong because they have been subjected to abuse for so long they don’t know any better. Too many sheep are so ill informed they don’t even know they are in the wrong pasture.

  89. frjim4321 says:

    . . . running out for a later dinner, but something just struck me . . . I think this should not be seen as a “violation” of rubrics, but rather as a demonstration of the role of rubics; not so much as a “straightjacket,” but rather as “dancing shoes.”

  90. EXCHIEF says:

    I think it is both absurd and irresponsible to excuse the Pontiff’s lack of concern for liturgy by saying he is a Jesuit. While the Jesuits (and I am Jesuit educated I might add) have always thought of themselves as an exception to the rules, and better than the others, to me it is both sinful and scandalous to use that as a reason for violating Canon Law….especially when the violator is the Supreme Pontiff.

    While I pray for him daily I am wholly unimpressed with Pope Francis (except on the issue of his pro life stance). His job is not to win popularity contests, nor is it appropropriate for him to bend the rules for any reason. He is simply giving the misguided “social justice” types who use inclusivity as an excuse for all manner of wrongs back up for their actions. It is becoming clear that his election was the result of political correctness NOT the best interests of the Church.

    Those of us who believe that the real growth of the Church as well as its stability in tumultuous times depends on a reliance on tradition and adherence to rules have to be disappointed. I know I certainly am. Yes, it is only 2 weeks into his Pontificate, but he has set the course and I fear it leads the Church over a cliff.

  91. Marcello says:

    ebl says:
    […] Breaking traditions and to change them according to one’s own ideas, is quite egocentric and prideful. … it is a false showboat form of humility. A truly humble man guards tradition, preserving it intact and passing it on unmodified to the next generation

    This is what I have felt and been saying. True humility does not revel in grand gestures of humility. As much as I want to give Pope Francis leeway, I cannot help but feel that he is “making it all about himself,” needless showboating literally every day, trumpeted in the media. Every Pope has his own style but very few have been so reckless so quickly in jettisoning tradition (little “t”). This may be all part of his secret “master plan” or it could be he is simply underwhelmed with it all and truly has no grasp of his office. If he has trouble referring to himself as Pope or pontiff and wants to be just another bishop–one of the guys–then he shouldn’t be surprised when the faithful simply ignore him. We must hope–and pray!–that we soon see wonderful, abundant fruits of this Francine “master plan,” otherwise his papacy–excuse me, “petrine ministry of the bishop of Rome”–will slide into irrelevancy and insignificance.

  92. jhayes says:

    Can you explain to me how washing a girl and on top of it a muslim girl feet…

    Nothing I have read has said that either girl was a Muslim. Can you provide a link to any reliable source that says that?

  93. jhayes says:

    Here’s a short video of the Mass and foot washing at the detention center:


  94. Jack Hughes says:

    please someone help me, I am so hurt, scandalized, sorrowful and feeling utterly wretched.

    I am very much in the mind of B XVI (liturgically speaking) and it was attending the Traditional Mass that I felt the first stirrings of what I hope is a Vocation to the Priesthood, I am a convert who came in under BXVI from a very anti-catholic family and it breaks my soul to see what Pope Francis is doing.

    Some of you have said ” I don’t care” or “my only problem is that he didn’t change the law first”, MY problem is that the Holy Father is casting away centuries of Tradition left, right and center, doing stuff that even Paul VI and JP2 didn’t dream of doing,; how can I love this man whilst he pours scorn on the time valued traditions of the Church in the name of ‘being humble’? Liberals will use his actions as a cause to advance their agenda and roll back the little progress Pope Benedict had made in getting the Baurqe of Peter off the rocks and patching up the damage caused by the last 40 years.

  95. Marcello says:

    As someone old enough to have lived through Vatican II as an astute teenager and the following chaos that lasted three decades, I feel that Francis is actually a throw back to that era, that we are in a déjà vu papacy of the Silly 70’s, and look at the fruits of that. It worked out really good, eh?

  96. Nancy D. says:

    BLB, you are mistaken. To say the Moslems worship the same God as Christians do, is to say the Moslems worship The Blessed Trinity. The Moslems do not worship The Blessed Trinity thus the Moslems do not worship the same God as Christians do.

  97. ebl says:

    I live in a country that is prominently muslim. I dont know whether it will cause an uproar for a muslim to participate actively in the liturgy(Washing of a muslin girls feet). Also as this is a home for the minor, I hope that permission was given by the parent of the girl to participate in this way. I don’t know whether this is a proper avenue to do ecumenical work . Maybe I miss out the whole purpose of holy Thursday. I was taught that it was for the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. looks like I have to go back to class as I seem to have miss something here. Anyway blessed Tridium and happy Easter

  98. lana says:

    I liked the post about the canons in which a dispensation can be made. The young people at that jail mostly didnt even know who he was or what this footwashing was about. But the girls there would definitely have been hurt (and perhaps felt rejected by God) by not being included. The rest of us know better, but to the uncatechized that is what it would have seemed. That would have completely undone what he was trying to achieve for these young people, including the girls. This was an act of charity. The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.

    So to those of you who are so worried, don’t be. One of my children is in jail. I beg you to have a heart.

  99. iowapapist says:

    Dear All:
    What I am about to write is more of a confession than advocacy. During my years as a trial attorney, I developed the ability to read people with a fair amount of accuracy. Preliminarily, I have no doubt that Pope Francis is true successor of Peter. I will pray for him. Now the confession. Based upon my observations of the man, I have reservations about proclaiming him to be truly humble. There are those who are conspicuous in their piety, but behind the facade there is in incompatibility with holiness. He appears to me to be a man who likes attention and is on a mission to prove that he is just a regular guy. In my opinion, if he was truly humble, he would accept the vestments and the liturgy appropriate to the office. Additionally, he would not degrade the office. It is the office that is exalted, not the man. Forgive me for my candor. Please also know that I am not always right. And please pray that I am wrong.

  100. ebl says:

    jhayes says:
    28 March 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Can you explain to me how washing a girl and on top of it a muslim girl feet…

    Nothing I have read has said that either girl was a Muslim. Can you provide a link to any reliable source that says that?
    The BBC is reporting:

    During Thursday’s intimate service, the Pope washed and kissed the feet of 12 young detainees to replicate the Bible’s account of Jesus Christ’s gesture of humility towards his 12 apostles on the night before he was crucified.

    The 12 inmates included two girls, one Italian Catholic and one of Serbian Muslim origin, local prison ombudsman Angiolo Marroni said ahead of the ceremony

  101. Tom Piatak says:

    An excellent analysis by Fr. Zuhlsdorf.

  102. Amy Giglio says:

    I was thinking about the washing of women’s feet on my way to Mass this evening, as I was afraid of being asked if I would have my own feet washed. I don’t think that women’s feet should be washed unless the rubrics allow it.

    BUT this afternoon I saw a photo of His Holiness’ 2008 Holy Thursday Mass in Buenos Aires, where he washed the feet of homeless people as well as the feet of prostitutes. One of the women was weeping as Pope Francis kissed the foot of the young man sitting next to her. I thought, how many of those 12 people have been told that they are worthless and unloveable? How many have been used and abused and treated as sub-human? And here is their bishop, kissing their feet. Showing them, not just telling them, “I love you, and the One Who sent me loves you in ways that you cannot imagine.” How many of them, in that moment, had a road to Damascus experience?

    Our faith isn’t a list of rules to be followed-as valuable and important as they are. Our faith is a relationship with Christ. His Holiness isn’t changing the words of consecration or ad-libbing the Eucharistic prayer. He changed a part of an optional ritual to introduce an individual to Christ. Introducing others to Christ is our mission by virtue of our baptism. His Holiness, being the Vicar of Christ, is in a unique position to do that.

    Father’s “pox” comment resonates. I think His Holiness is saying to those of us who want to put him in one camp or another, “I belong to Christ.” Jesus couldn’t be contained. He broke laws when He needed to as well (see: woman at the well, picking grain on the Sabbath, etc.). some will see Pope Francis bend and break rubrics and think that anything goes now. Some may have thought the same about Jesus. Then He started turning over the moneychangers’ tables. Let Francis get through Easter. I don’t think we will have to wait too long till the table flipping starts.

  103. Much is at stake here, for if Pope Francis can successfully project that image of compassion, he may be able to mow down the Obamas and the Bloombergs and the Cuomos and the Kennedys and the Oprahs as easily as Pope John Paul II blew open the Iron Curtain. If he succeeds, a serious persecution may be thwarted. If he fails, well, things just have to keep going in the same direction they’ve been going and we’re all in trouble, even the non-religious. If he fails, no one will have to worry about clown Masses any more because anyone offering any sort of Catholic Mass may well be subject to arrest. Let’s pray that our Holy Father is right about this.

  104. Legisperitus says:

    I hope and pray that this Pope corrects everything he is capable of correcting in the Church, and that his pontificate lasts precisely the time it takes him to do it.

  105. This flaunting of rules is pretty scary. Fr Z is being as charitable, positive, and supportive as possible, a valiant effort. But these Papal actions pull the rug out from under all those who work for the disciplines of the Church – from pastors to Vatican administrators.

    Last Sunday’s reading at the EF of Palm Sunday affected more deeply than ever in my life, as it was sung, I saw the description right there of what we are to expect the Church to go through. It may be time for the Passion of the Church. Although the Church has exhibited these struggles throughout the ages, the Church is now experiencing worldwide convulsions, and Rome seems inhabited by aliens.
    See the parallels of the Passion with our Church in recent times: The bishops [apostles] slept while Jesus went through His Agony. They awoke – soldiers came – the apostles recognized the terror of the situation, got angry, chopped off the servant’s ear. Then all the bishops [apostles] and disciples fled in terror and perhaps despair. Peter [the Pope] vehemently denies Jesus. Pilate [the common man, the bureaucrat] says ‘what has this Man really done that’s so bad?’ – but hatred of the priests whipping up the crowd prevails and Pilate ‘washes his hands’ abandons Jesus [the Church] to the senseless mob…and on it goes. Can you imagine how the beating, crucifixion, and death of Jesus looked to those who believed He was God? How could He be defeated, dead? Do you see the parallel with the life of our Church?
    Jesus is the Church. Read the Passion. The Church will look extinguished!! Just as Jesus looked beaten and dead, so will the Church. Prepare yourselves. Stick with Mary: consecrate yourselves to her, pray the rosary, wear the scapular. Mary was the one constant during that Passion.
    I’m sorry – I’m not feeling much optimism about the present Papacy. I am desperately looking for reassurance. But disintegration of the Church is in the ‘plan’. This is how it is supposed to go. Scripture is so plain and obvious in its prophecy, this should comfort us. Hang in there til the Good Guys win. We are specifically chosen to live in these times – cooperate with the graces! Man up! Pray! Let us pray for each other, pray for me.

  106. Dr. K says:

    Here’s a short video of the Mass and foot washing at the detention center:


    Sigh… acoustic guitar sighting 1:23 into the video.

  107. flyfree432 says:

    Hmmm, I don’t think that’s necessarily true at all. I think it’s about including a representative sample of the worshiping community in a ritual during the Mass of The Lord’s Supper. Frankly I think a vast number of advocated of the ordination of women have already “left the building.”

    I agree, they were protesting outside the church this morning.

    However, I would disagree that the washing of the feet is the right place to make such a statement about having a “sample of the worshiping community” since the symbolism of the ritual does not call for such a statement. However, having a priest wash the feet of 12 men makes a powerful statement – one that helps us enter into deeper mysteries than sociopolitical ones.

  108. RJHighland says:

    I’m not surprised by this act by our Holy Father, no one should be it is who he is and has been. This is in the Lord’s hands all we can do is pray for our Holy Father and the Church. Let us see how this all unfolds not a whole lot we can do about it. I am in no position to condemn our Holy Father for his actions and humility is something that I dearly need more of in my life and he is a good example of that. Let us not throw in the towel to early he hasn’t even broken a sweat in the 1st round. Although this act saddens me it does not affect my faith in our Lord or His Church, I will go to stations tomorrow just as I always do look inwardly on how I have inflicted so many wounds upon my Lord and pray for His mercy. I pray our Holy Father is the Pope that we need and not the one we deserve.

  109. Lavrans says:

    The Pope is not to be made an idol. We love him and we follow him, but he is not God. He represents him, but is a man. That is how we survived the Borgia popes and others who were totally unworthy of the throne of St. Peter.

    I don’t like much of what the Holy Father has done in just two short weeks, but he is still the Pope and I am still Catholic. Liking his liturgies does not make me more Catholic.

  110. Giuseppe says:

    “David Werling says: Here’s what I’m observing, and I think it would be very hard to refute this observation:
    Premise A – The pope’s word is law.
    Premise B – The pope’s word is [insert my own opinion disguised as an interpretation of a (thankfully) very ambiguous statement or action on the part of the Pope.]
    Therefore – [Insert my own opinion disguised as an interpretation of a (thankfully) very ambiguous statement or action on the part of the Pope] is law!”

    David, thank you so much for pointing out the logical fallacy above
    A is B, A is C, therefore C is B. My cat is a mammal. My cat is an annoying animal. Therefore annoying animals are mammals.

  111. MouseTemplar says:

    “I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful…..Baby Steps ’til 4 o’clock. Baby Steps til 4 o’clock.”

    I will not have a nutty. Will not.

  112. Bob B. says:

    Mary T at 6:17 pm: Don’t forget Vatican II, as well. Pius XII’s encyclical is very interesting and not only addresses existentialism but the Magisterium, too.

  113. Peter in Canberra says:

    If Fr Z’s thesis is correct, the message Pope Francis is sending is mixing up apples and oranges. That means it is liable to not be clearly heard.

    My personal reaction is different: 8 years of the hermeneutic of continuity torn up in 2 weeks.

    A slap in the face for priests and layfolk who have fought, and suffered, to uphold Church teaching and law in the face of systemic disobedience. Church law, liturgical or otherwise, will now be (even more) subject to personal judgement.

    I agree entirely with Fr Z re the women’s ordination observations. That is why this papal action is a problem. It is a futher extension of the crack opened by John Paul II in allowing female altar servers. It seems a no-brainer to me. They will think they are winning.

    Serve the poor? Yes. [And (some) traditionalists may be found wanting in this regard.]
    Tear up Church tradition and symbolism in the name of this? No.
    Tradition and symbols matter. They define who we are.

  114. oldcanon2257 says:

    frjim4321 says:

    I think it’s about including a representative sample of the worshiping community in a ritual during the Mass of The Lord’s Supper. Frankly I think a vast number of advocated of the ordination of women have already “left the building.”

    Fr. Jim,

    A priest using politically correct words and phrases to describe the Mandatum ceremony truly “de-emphasizes” the beauty of what Our Lord did and His new commandment and reduces it to / makes it sound like modern-day artificially-mandated affirmative action-based quota for admission to state universities or a secular-world political poll/survey adhering to pre-defined statistical methods of sampling.

    If what you said (about “including a representative sample of the worshiping community in a ritual”) were true, why did Our Lord choose not to include women back then? No doubt there were many women (or “disenfranchised female members of adult population”, as you would have put it) amongst His disciples (or “worshipping community”, as you put it). No doubt the Blessed Mother was present onsite as well.

    And please don’t attempt to frame what Our Lord did in some “social cultural historical political context” nonsense and start theorizing that Our Lord was caving in to pressure of the “respective geo-cultural traditions/practices of that time period”, etc.

    As for those advocates of women ordination, they have stubbornly refused to depart from the building and actually are heading back to occupy the main lobby with help from enemies of the Church, both inside and outside. How much I wish they had “left the building” and become Episcopalians/Anglicans instead so that Benedict’s prediction about a “smaller but purer Church” would become reality.

    frjim4321 says:

    That being said, I have found a great deal of hope in the election and inauguration of Pope Francis,

    The use of such words like “inauguration” (which are used widely in the secular media) gives the false impression that the Holy Father (and the papacy in general) is just another “el presidente del pueblo” no different than the late Hugo Chávez. Since the 1960’s, Catholics seem to have been ashamed to proclaim the kingship of Christ. I guess they aim to start a revolution to overthrow the Kingdom of Heaven and replace it with the People’s Republic of Heaven?

    frjim4321 says:

    and the feeling I have in general is that of being able to breath again. I think we’ve finally come up to the surface after being submerged for decades.

    And here I thought Benedict was on the throne of Peter for only 8 years. In my humble opinion (based on the positions you appear to have taken, observed from reading various comments you had posted over the years), I would assert that in your view even Pope Paul VI would be considered a far-right ultra-traditionalist or at least an arch-conservative?

    A blessed Triduum to you.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  115. frjimt says:

    dominus flevit….. for the devil laughs at all this wasted ‘ink’

  116. jbpolhamus says:

    Well, if it is a case of the Bishop of Rome saying “A pox on both your houses,” then I DOUBLY don’t appreciate it, because it’s not his place to be that dismissive any of the faithful quarrelsome or not. Where’s his much vaunted humility in that case? Where the sun don’t shine. Perhaps he needs to grow up a little, and stop dangling the church from his finger like a personal yo-yo. Not impressed…or inspired, in any event.

  117. Basher says:

    The next several years are going to be a guessing game, in which we all try to figure out what Francis is going to do next. Most of the time we will be bitterly hurt and disappointed.

    Occasionally we will receive some little gift. I know this music. I have lived under this type of Bishop my whole life.

    This type of behavior by the Boss breeds only terrible conflict among the sheep. Lots of Americans live under this type of Bishop. Lots of Americans suffer.

    Father, don’t blow through every explanatory gambit so soon. We probably have years and years of this to endure. A “pox on both of your houses” doesn’t make any sense, but I know that I said far sillier things trying to explain the behavior of our Bishop to other Catholics over the years. In retrospect, I should have just owned up to this facts:

    Yes, what our Bishop has just done is wrong. I have no rational explanation for it. He is not the best Bishop the Church has ever had, nor is he by any stretch the worst. All we know for certain is that, in course of history there have been many conflicts within the Church. In every single one of them, the Bishops in union with the Popes have proven out to be the guardians of right doctrine – no matter how awful they were in any or every other way. This boat is smelly and often very poorly run. We must, however, for the sake of our souls, remain onboard.

    Let’s all just try to remain honest. It’s foundational to being Catholic.

  118. Lori Pieper says:

    O Lord, once again “the Pope is making it all about him,” “he isn’t humble, he’s trying to get attention,” “he’s showboating,” etc. etc., etc.

    If he were trying to get attention, why would he have barred entrance to the press and photographers?

    These statements and petty and unworthy.

  119. Father Bartoloma says:

    Fr. Z,
    I commend you for striving to keep the collective traditionalist blood pressure down a few points.

  120. jhayes says:

    Jimmy Akin says that each bishop can decide what to do in his own diocese [my insertions in brackets]

    “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. 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 [2005] 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 [2005 is also the oldest photo I have seen of Cardinal Bergolio washing wimen’s feet]. 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).

    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.”

    Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-holy-thursday/

  121. Lavrans says:

    @Lori Pieper: Then why do we have video of it? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but we do have video and reports about it, and it is worldwide.

    This still reminds me of the Benedict condom interview. It will be completely misunderstood in the media and by the vast, vast majority of the world. The Vatican still sucks at P.R.

  122. anna 6 says:

    Francis’s pastoral instincts are phenomenal and Fr. Z’s interpretation of what he is “up to” seems spot on, to me.
    He is really making me squirm…and I don’t know if in the long run that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Right now, it is decidedly a bad thing, because I am very confused and stressed out over all of this.
    I just wish that he would slow down a bit…if he did, I think he would have a lot more followers who could help to put his evangelization plans into action.

  123. “I agree with everything you said Father Z, especially the point about him being a Jesuit and not being really focused on the liturgy. Unfortunately, I don’t believe returning to tactics and techniques from the 60?s, 70?s and 80?s is going to evangelize anyone! It is what got us into the mess the Church is in today.”

    Otherwise, I’m nothing other than a Blue Meanie who doesn’t care a hoot about the poor, or of spreading the Gospel, because my nose is stuck in a rule book. If I am to be a fellow-worker in the vineyard, this isn’t exactly the morale booster I was looking for from the guy at the top.

    Of course I’ll pray for the Holy Father. But at the moment, a lot of priests who want to be faithful to the norms of the liturgy (especially younger priests) could use a “wee bit o’ prayer” as well, especially after today.

  124. Gaetano says:

    Perhaps this was an unusual liturgy because Pope Francis had yet to take possession of St. John Lateran. Perhaps Pope Francis comes from a different milieu, and these liturgical matters were not a threat in Argentina the way they were here in the United States. Perhaps God did truly move Pope Francis to take this act of humility as a sign to the world.

    Yet as a survivor of the liturgy wars of the past 35 years, it is difficult not to fear that his actions will embolden others. When we argue the “Spirit of the Law” and “rubrics were made for man, not man for the rubrics,” where does the apostolic/evangelical/radical step stop? Before or after the continued disobedience of Roman Catholic Wymynpriests?

    Within our memory, we saw the good, faithful, orthodox Pope Paul VI, author of Humanae Vitae, preside over corrupt filth – and one of the manifestations of that corruption was the detriment of the liturgy. We will endure, and I will remain faithful, but the way ahead appears uncertain.

  125. jhayes says:

    ebl, thank you for the link to Jimmy Akin.

  126. Kathleen10 says:

    The light at the end of the tunnel might be a train.

    I don’t know what to think. I’ll hold off for now and wait and see. I’m grateful that in the meantime prayer, religious reading, contemplation, the Mass, Confession, Holy Eucharist, and even homilies, go on, without much apparent impact. That’s good.
    Maybe these are the tribulations. The only thing I do know is that coupled with secular firestorms like Obamacare and all it’s tentacles, same-sex marriage with all it’s animus, gun control debates and threats, immigration, and on and on, it would have been sweet to have one hugely important area of life not to worry about. Something to even give us consolation? But consolation is not easily found.
    Let’s hope we are going to see an improvement in things. I’m glad I am hearing positive things about his Masses. Reverent and holy. Those are good starts.

  127. Lavrans says:

    @Gaetano: I think you nailed it here. I too am a survivor…heck I was a casualty of the liturgy wars. I was fed up with the Church as a young man, and after I saw a priest dance to an 80’s pop hit during his homily, I left for a very long time. The Truth of Catholicism, and its traditional liturgy, helped bring me back. It was intelligent and inviting – not goofy and pandering.

    I can’t…I won’t go back to those bad old days. But His grace is enough. It is hard, I have to admit. I am shaken. They say, “buck up” and I do. But I never said I have to like it or that it is easy.

  128. Cathy says:

    Is it possible that tradition, without regards to substance, can itself become a source of idolatry? Holy Father Francis is substantially our Holy Father. He offers us challenges and blessings. His sermons are a personal challenges to me. I have pets and dye my hair and wear makeup. Is it possible to forgo some of the associated costs, bypass the desire to buy kitty toys, dye my hair myself, buy cheaper make-up, maybe give up hair dyeing and makeup altogether, and give the money to charity – maybe help build new Catholic Hospitals outside the box – free from insurance/medicaid/medicare? I think we’re a little boxed in and about to be kicked out of the box altogether. Regardless of court decisions regarding the HHS mandate, the government basically owns every hospital that has to answer to it and has information rights on every citizen that enters it. Along with prayer and worship we need a firm commitment to live the faith in an era with a great hostility against the Catholic faith. These are the best of times and the worst of times, and these are the times that are made for great saints. Lord, help us to be saints!

  129. anna 6 says:

    “If he were trying to get attention, why would he have barred entrance to the press and photographers?”

    Lori, I imagine that it is illegal to show the identities minors in a juvenile detention center…
    not that I am implying that Francis is showboating or anything( I am sure he’s not) but I don’t think he couldn’t have televised the Mass even if he wanted to.

  130. Lavrans says:

    @Cathy: It is also possible to make an idol out of the Pope too.

    This is why Tradition AND tradition is important. The continuity. And this is why people are shaken.

    But Augustine said this world would never be perfect. I just wish it could be a bit more perfect though.

  131. anna 6 says:

    Cathy, there’s so much that I would give up for our Lord…but mascara?!
    This is getting too hard.

  132. bobbyfranky says:

    Doctrine. Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it. We must follow the teachings, but in following the law we must not lose the heart of the law, which is mercy.

    Jesus told St. Faustina His greatest attribute is His Mercy.
    We must emulate Him, we must make mercy our greatest attribute.

    We are becoming pharisees. Let’s bring the good samaritan to the fore. If a Catholic while drving to the last Sunday Mass sees a man along the roadside ahead of him start coughing up blood and bend over and collapse, and continues to cough blood and is writhing in pain, do we stop and render aid and dare to miss Mass and risk a mortal sin, like the priest in the parable who did not stop to help. We must stop and render as much help as we can. Will we be in mortal sin? No. No. No. We must follow Jesus for He is the Way; He did not leave us to die, He came down off His mighty throne to save us as we lay gasping, about to die. He came for us, to save us, even though we deserved to die. He did not let us die. We too must always be there for those in need. Again, did Jesus come to abolish the law? No, He came to fulfill it. But the pharisees had lost their way, had lost the heart of the law, whicn is Mercy. Which is love, for one another. That is the highest point of the Law. The highest good.

    People argue about mozzettas and red shoes while others by the thousands everyday are dying from hunger. From neglect. People are in depair. People have lost their faith. By the tens and hundreds of thousands. Blessed Mary said in the 1600s that the faith in our times would be in danger of being extinguished. The Church must regain its heart, it must remember that compassion, that mercy are its heart, are at the core. The heart of Jesus is mercy, and so than is His Church, His Body – the heart of the Church is and must always be mercy.

    Those who think Francis will change doctrine are fools. He is a man of Christ, a man completely in love with Christ; he emulates Christ more prefectly than most of us. To think that the most high God would come to us from His mighty throne to save us, to walk among us and treat us with so much dignity, so much respect, so much love. To think that Francis would call his newspaper guy in some kiosk to tell him it would be difficult to have some of their usual chats, to think how Francis talked to him in a way that showed him such respect. I am thrilled that God has sent us this leader who is so much like Christ to remind us that our foundation is Mercy.

    You nailed it Father. Francis is taking us back to our roots, re-teaching us our fundamentals. Like the great St. Francis, he is going to re-evangelize, rebuild the Church, by example. Thank You God! Thank You God! Thank You God!

    God bless you and Happy Easter!

  133. ladytatslace says:

    Jesus broke traditions all around him, why? To make a point to the rest of us, to show us how we are to behave. He ate with sinners, publicans, tax collectors. He allowed a prostitute to wash his feet. The people around Him were horrified and scandalized.
    God knows what is in Pope Francis heart, mind and motives. The Holy Spirit inspired the Cardinals to elect Pope Francis. He was not elected by a popular vote of lay persons. He is a prayerful Holy man, who I am sure knows how listen to what the Holy Spirit leads him to do and say.
    I for one have been rejoicing in our gift from God the Father.
    Those of you who are questioning his actions, his motives, can you see in his heart?
    To me, Pope Francis washing the feet of young people, some boys, some girls, some Catholic, some not, shows me how I should behave to all of God’s sons and daughters, no matter who they are or what they believe.
    Prayer and Charity to all this Holy Triduum.

  134. Lavrans says:

    ladytatslace said “Jesus broke traditions all around him”

    Except the Last Supper followed tons of Jewish customs. He came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it (His words). Look, I know this was a veiled attempt to call us Pharasees (those of us who object to this liturgy) but we are well within our rights and are just as Catholic as you.

  135. chantgirl says:

    Isn’t liturgy supposed to be about the worship of God so that we can then go out and live the faith, do good works, and be charitable? Isn’t our worship of God an act of charity because it sustains the world by prayer? I have no problem with doing all of the charitable, compassionate things when we leave Church. Let each Mass be a mini retreat so that we can go out into the world strengthened to do good works.

  136. boxerpaws1952 says:

    this is the first time i have ever disagreed with Fr. Z…and that’s not to say he might be right and i could be totally wrong. If i had but a few more min and it wasn’t so late would add in the details but we’ll save that for another day. For now,i have to say that i have run into ppl on the internet who are honestly giving the Church a look see. Some for the first time-some who are watching Pope Francis and considering returning.These are people who KNOW where he stands-as does the Church-on the issues of the day; like contraception,abortion etc.So it’s not as if they’re looking this way because they see abortion,same sex marriage, women priests down the road. They know that’s not going to happen. Something is afoot here. I was surprised by what i was reading. Just folks here and there.

  137. Marcello says:

    jbpolhamus says:
    […] Perhaps he needs to grow up a little, and stop dangling the church from his finger like a personal yo-yo. Not impressed…or inspired, in any event.

    Bingo! This hits it right on the head. The papacy is not the personal plaything of the current occupant–sic transit Gloria mundi. Pope Francis does not own the papacy to do with as he wills. In this regard–here’s where I make everyone’s head explode–he sadly has more in common with Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) than Blessed John Paul II. (Now, go ahead, everyone slam me, then I’ll have to explain the obvious.)

  138. Lavrans says:

    Will there be a place for us who love liturgy, love Aquinas, love the intellectual and the traditional aspects of the Bride of Christ?

    Or will it be all happy-clappy “I’m okay, you’re okay” 1970s stuff again?


  139. Nan says:

    If the Pope doesn’t follow Church teaching, then what the hell is he good for? Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles. Not random people who weren’t his followers. Not women. I don’t know if I’ll go to Mass again.

  140. Lavrans says:

    @Marcello : I’m not going to slam you. But I do want to hear what you have to say on this.

  141. Ana says:

    Egads, egads, egads. The comments here are exactly why I’ve avoid com boxes. I must say freaking out over the washing of the feet of women as he is disregarding the law and such is over the top! He is the Pope, he can dispense himself from this limitation, and dispensations are secret in this matter according Dr. Peters. As a result, we OWE our Holy Father the benefit of the doubt instead of attacks and condescending tones. Instead of accusations that he wants to destroy the papacy et al we as Catholics are required to give him the benefit of the doubt that he wants to do what is best for the Church and is seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all he does. Do we see the big picture? No. However, I believe Fr. Z is onto something with this post.

    “Francis is pushing out to the world (ad extra) an image of compassion. I think he is correcting both sides, within the Church (ad intra), which may both be, both sides, losing the forest for the trees: we are not succeeding in evangelizing and we cannot sacrifice doctrine for the sake of mere popularity or worldly acceptance.”

    Yes, liturgy matters and defines us, but if we are not successfully evangelizing we are in trouble.

  142. Lori Pieper says:

    Lavrans, as I recall, the papal spokesman said a bit earlier when this was first announced that the private and intimate nature of the celebration meant that it would not be broadcast live and press would be barred, etc. I’m sure that was very wise; the young people would have been distracted by all that to the ruin of the celebration. The Vatican photographer was there, and one video camera, which would have been kept very discreet.

    I do think that shows that the Pope (he must have had the final decision) has a greater care for these kids than how much he himself appeared on camera. Of course, Benedict’s visit to a prison was entirely broadcast from end to end, and who among his traditionalist fans accused him of showboating or showing false humility on that occasion? Should we just bar all cameras from all papal events so the Pope won’t be accused of not being humble enough?

    I think there is something else going on here – and that is, “when you’re angry enough, fling as much mud as you can anywhere you can, it doesn’t matter, and hope it sticks somewhere.” People seem to be losing their minds over this; I understand how disappointed some people are that Pope Francis isn’t adopting all their own ideas, whether about the liturgy or things in the Church in general. People can disagree with him or criticize him. But to make this kind of accusation — and on what evidence??! — is just mean and petty, and says nothing good about those who make it. (I know you yourself aren’t doing so, of course).

    Anna 6, I think you are right; they seem to have been trying to keep the young people’s faces out of the pictures as much as possible. It looked strange to me when I first saw the photos that they were all closeups of the Pope with just a bunch of feet; now I can understand why that was.

  143. david andrew says:

    Several people I spoke with this evening, folks who I have otherwise known to be “orthodox” in their understanding of the Faith, and in particular their appreciation of “lex orandi, lex credendi” actually said, out loud, in response to my concern over Francis’ washing of both women’s feet and the feet of a Muslim was, “Well, he’s reflecting what Francis of Assisi did, he’s embracing the leper, he’s turning the other cheek, he’s being the Samaritan.”

    Years of careful catechesis shot all to Hell and the vacuum quickly filled with Post-modern relativism.

    As my best friend’s grandfather used to say, “Well, NOW what do we do?”

  144. david andrew says:

    And, since there’s no “edit” button, and I can add this into my above comment, notice how much they’re saying “He” is doing thus and such.

    Humility? Not so much.

  145. Lavrans says:

    @Lori Pieper: Oh, he is the Holy Father, but like the Borgia popes, I do not owe him adoration. That is for God alone. He is a man worthy of my respect and prayers. But I hate his liturgies so far. I can’t stand them. I disagree with how he is doing things liturgically. I am in my right as a Catholic to do so. I love him and pray for him and listen to him. But I do not have to enjoy puppet shows (like in Argentina) nor the washing of female Muslim feet. These are not part of the Catholic faith. They are sideshows.

    I did not like many of JPII’s liturgies either, but I love the man and his writings. This is possible.

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  147. joeclark77 says:

    WDTPRS lurker here. I’m a convert and will be entering into full communion on Saturday – can’t wait! If you had asked me a month ago, I’d have told you that I was probably going to be a “rad trad”, go to Latin masses exclusively, fuss about vestments, etc. I love all the history and mystery and the many layers of meaning that I’ve read about here and on other blogs. But the reactions to Pope Francis from traditionalists (like many of the commenters here) have shocked me to my senses in a way that you probably didn’t intend. I’m starting to think that maybe the fixation on traditional liturgy is our version of a “first world problem”.

    Maybe the real issue is that in America, liberal liturgy tends to go with political and moral liberalism, and perhaps many of you are thinking that a more conservative liturgy will cause people to become politically and morally conservative. We are all confused because Pope Francis is obviously a very holy, very moral, very charitable Catholic with much to teach us, but equally obviously is nontraditional w.r.t. liturgy. He doesn’t fit neatly into our familiar models. Maybe that’s just how the world is, outside of the American bubble.

    So this thought caused me to ask myself: how many of the parishes are really using the 1962 latin mass in China, Pakistan, Africa, etc? These places are producing martyrs and saints every day. If the novus ordo is good enough for them, then it ought to be good enough to me.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but I really hate to see liturgical traditionalism turn into a stumbling block for so many good Catholics. When you are denouncing the brand-new Pope as having no moral authority, or as having nothing to teach you, or as an enemy of the church, maybe that should be a red flag? Time to re-examine some assumptions?

  148. Lavrans says:

    Oh enough. We can be traditional, and concerned about the Mass, without being anti-Catholic. For heavens sake, these are some of the best Catholics out there. The fact that we have a teensy concern about the Pope’s liturgical tastes doesn’t make us the equivalent of women’s ordination honks or same-sex marriage champions. We’re not disagreeing with contraception or liberation theology. We are disagreeing with liturgical norms. That is it.

    Calm down trad-haterz. We’re still just as Catholic as you.

  149. RosaMystica says:

    Scandalized, sad, fearful, all of the above. Spittle-flecked nutty? Well, I shed some tears today when I read the news, so maybe that counts as well. There is now nowhere to turn to combat liturgical abuses. How long will it be before Bishops start deciding to shut down the local Extraordinary Form masses? There will be nowhere to turn for help.

  150. Sal says:

    Good grief. Lighten up people. Pope Francis has been in office for barely more than 2 weeks.

    He intends to chart his own course and quite frankly he has defied characterization. Look to his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi. He managed to cause plenty of consternation among traditionalists of his time too.

  151. Lots of bile here. Fr. Z., thanks for a sensible post. The sad thing is that by this decision, priests who have been abused for simply following the rubrics have been hung out to dry. It happened before on “altar girls.”

    It is time that those who care about the liturgy just start dropping what has become a silly and always politicized ritual. It was historically not part of the Maundy Thursday service and it is merely optional. It has become a festering wound in the liturgical life of the Church that cannot be healed. So let it go.

  152. Jason Keener says:

    I think it’s unfortunate that Pope Francis seems to think that in order to serve the poor and evangelize, he also has to do away with certain traditional and beautiful aspects of the papacy (using the papal stole and mozzetta, living in the Apostolic Palace, etc.) We must remember the Catholic Religion is a religion that can both have glorious Sacred Liturgies, vestments, artwork, music, tiaras, etc., AND go out into the world to serve the poor and evangelize those who have fallen away. I would love to see Pope Francis continue his dramatic outreach to the poor and fallen away but at the same time guard the smaller “t” traditions associated with the papacy that help to highlight the papacy’s nobility and dignity. The Pope cannot be so concerned about the transcendental of goodness in serving the poor that he drives away from the Church those liturgy-minded Catholics who are very strongly drawn to God through the transcendental of beauty. It is a herculean task, but the Supreme Pontiff has many tasks he must juggle at the same time. Let us pray fervently for our Holy Father, that he will lead others to Christ through the True, Good, and Beautiful.

    (P.S. Liturgy-minded Catholics, take a deep breath. Rome was not built in one day. It will not be destroyed in one day either.)

  153. Therese says:

    Tina in Ashburn: “Let us pray for each other, pray for me.”

    Certainly. I could use your prayers, too, please. Thanks.

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  155. Evovae says:

    joeclark77:”I really hate to see liturgical traditionalism turn into a stumbling block for so many good Catholics. ”

    I completely agree.

    I love liturgical traditionalism, and I think it’s extremely important to the life of the church to have a strong centers of proper august celebration. I am NOT saying that traditional liturgies should be sidelined.

    Still, I know for a fact that there are many, many people who were born and raised Catholic (and poorly catechized…) who are driven away from the church when faced with things like traditional liturgies. The problem isn’t the liturgies, though. Rather, it’s how the mainstream culture has conditioned these people to react to them (and all the nasty conservatism they represent).

    I often get the feeling that many trads don’t appreciate the sheer size of the hurdle that is the mainstream culture’s brainwashing of people’s taste and artistic sensibilities (Cue reference to Gramscian notions of creating a new Marxist culture to combat traditional culture). In other words, through no fault of their own many people these days have been TAUGHT from very young age, mostly through passive cultural absorption, to instinctively recoil from and even to despise things that look, sound, and feel like traditional liturgies (consider the “normal” background music you hear at the supermarket). The process of bringing these people around is usually long and difficult since it amounts to a fundamental change in basic emotional responses.

    Considering that, what I see in Pope Francis is Jesus going to eat with the prostitutes, specifically that He went to them. That doesn’t mean Jesus stops deserving solemn high liturgies that befit the King of Kings. But it does suggest to me that many people don’t know what to make of high liturgies because they haven’t yet met Christ in such a way as to understand deeply how worthy He is of these.

    Thoughout His ministry Jesus chose to appear sometimes as the majestic & royal Son of God and sometimes as the lowly servant of servants. We know He is both, but as humans we have a very hard time seeing more than one role at a time. Perhaps we can cut the Vicar of Christ some slack for not always fully playing both roles.

  156. ireneadler says:

    this obsession with liberal vs. conservative is so paranoid and irrational. however, i would like to point out that it seems to be CONSERVATIVES who are concerned with the gender of not only priests but the rest of us too. liberals seem to only be asking the question, why men only? and then conservatives start foaming at the mouth and quoting latin.

    and if the church is no longer perceived as “compassionate” in the world, maybe that’s the conservatives’ fault too, eh? ever take that log out?

  157. Potato2 says:

    If Pope Francis wants to refer to himself as the Bishop of Rome and go out of his way to do everything he can to not claim the papacy he might want to wait until BXVI is no longer with us.
    Just saying…..
    You watch, someone right now is running to BXVI and tatteling!

  158. JimmyA says:

    I thought this was a very good, balanced analysis of what he is doing. I agree with the conclusion. By way of a litmus test, my wife, who is a liberal, is not a Catholic and indeed hates much of what she perceives the Church stands for. But I’ll tell you what – she likes what she sees of Francis. He is changing the game for her and if that is so he must be changing the game for others like her. We could be on the brink of seeing large numbers outside Holy Church changing how they see her and starting to listen to the gospel. This is a Good Thing. Some will turn away when they hear the “hard teachings” but others will stay. What an opportunity for all of us.

    I too wince at the liturgical stuff but at the end of the day when I examine my conscience the question has to be “What apostolate did I do? Did I do anything to bring someone into the Church?” if that answer is “Nothing” then I am going wrong.

  159. lmo1968 says:

    Evovae, I loved that you wrote this: That doesn’t mean Jesus stops deserving solemn high liturgies that befit the King of Kings. But it does suggest to me that many people don’t know what to make of high liturgies because they haven’t yet met Christ in such a way as to understand deeply how worthy He is of these.

    Exactly! The pope is meeting people where they are. He told us that Catholics need to leave the security of the sheepfold and go out in search of the missing sheep. People outside the sheepfold are taking note of Pope Francis’ words and deeds. Some of them may even come back to the faith!

    High liturgies are not bringing people to Christ. I don’t know if they ever did. As an aside, I know somebody who attends very high liturgies in an Episcopal Church pastored by a lesbian. Lex orandi is not always Lex Credendi. No, it’s not the mozzettas and ruby slippers that win souls to God. It is when our priests and bishops are out among the people, sharing our lives, and searching always for the lost and desperate that people are brought to Christ. The lost sheep, like these kids — the girls too — are getting the message that they are loved by God by what the pope did today. Maybe for the first time in their entire lives they saw somebody in authority, not just any authority either but the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, extend himself on their behalf. This may be the first time in their lives they have known what it is to be loved. Love covers many sins, we are told. So, give the pope a break, already.

  160. amrc says:

    I am concerned that in the charitable gestures, reverence for Christ in the Eucharist has been lost. I thought the Holy Thursday liturgy was about the Institution of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, at the Lord’s Last Supper, not only about service and washing of feet. Isn’t there supposed to be some sort of solemn procession with the Blessed Sacrament after the Mass, reposition & adoration? Aren’t we supposed to be going with Our Lord into the “garden”? And if the washing of the young detainees was meant to be inclusive, how did they feel if they were excluded from receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion? I thought also this Mass of the Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated “with the full participation of the whole local community” (according the red-lettered intro in my Magnificat). I really, really appreciate Pope Francis’s love for and reaching out to the excluded, outskirted, wounded, as Christ did…but I thought here tonight we were all also supposed to be celebrating Christ Himself, our wonderful unity in Him through His Mass & giving of Himself to us in Holy Communion…We love Him first, strengthened by our Eucharistic Feast together as Catholics, then we can go out to others…? I misunderstand Pope Francis’s simple and humble motives…I do pray for him, and that I might better understand God’s actions & intentions in our mixed-up world. Lord Jesus Crucified, have mercy on us! PS Remember to start Divine Mercy novena today (Good Friday). Blessed Easter to all!

  161. Melody says:

    Well, this puts me in the much hated position of “moderate” once again…
    Here is a video of the ritual:
    Orderly and reverent? Check.
    Twelve people only? Check.
    Proper music? Eww… bland guitar stuff. Can we talk about this part more?

    The role of women is a real stumbling block in the traditional church today, and I believe it is clouding more important issues. Women should not be fulfilling priestly roles in the liturgy. However, that does not mean women should be passive or invisible participants in the life of the church. When establishing an extraordinary form mass, please take the time to also form an altar guild for the women of the parish. Give women a cooperative role appropriate to their gender. It is idleness that is creating heresy.
    At the same time, society has advanced far enough that women are allowed in many roles that once constituted a grave scandal. It is my belief that the canon law dates from this time, when surely it would be a grave breach of propriety for a man(as the priest must be) to publicly wash a woman’s feet. It dates from a time when women daring to wear slacks would have been considered shocking and rebellious. Canon Law is founded upon doctrine, in this case scandal. Canon Law itself is not doctrine.
    One could legitimately argue that the twelve are performing a priestly role in representing the apostles, and thus women would not be allowed. However, others would argue that the proper expression of the commandant is for the priest, alter christus, to wash the feet of the lowly, in other words, the laity or the lowest ranked religious if no laity are present. In my opinion, Pope Francis sought out the lowest among us, to great effect. As Father Z mentioned, it not the women who are doing the washing.

  162. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I agree with Fr. Z’s analysis wholeheartedly. As I see Pope Francis, I do not see a man who has any desire to disobey rubrics or canon law. He reminds me of a very humble parish priest in a rural Hispanic parish who does things because he wants to make a point and get people to think once again about their Catholic faith. With the juveniles, the Pope was focused on them, and getting them to give their faith some thought. He used the occasion, the moment, and the opportunities present, to make an impact which was hopefully positive to bring them to find Christ.

    He may be going about it all wrong. But at least he’s trying to do something, which is better than some pastors being content to just sit back and watch their parishes die on the vine.

  163. tzard says:

    I like your recent posts, Father Z., it’s challenging met to think with humility and docility.

    Perhaps you can also nickname your blog “WDFRS”

  164. Bea says:

    What is Pope Francis really saying?
    I am trying to get at what I think Pope Francis is really up to.

    Before reading any of the above replies:
    WOW Thursday in the US isn’t over yet and we already have 161 replies. This must be some kind of record!

    Anyway, IMHO (or not so humble)
    I think the Pope is trying to bring God’s Message of Love and Salvation from a worldly point of view, rather than God’s point of view.

    “Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art a scandal unto me: because thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.” Matthew 16:23

  165. Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison

  166. jflare says:

    While I don’t wish to read through some 160 responses, I see Pope Francis efforts in a light rather similar to John Paul II. I often wasn’t all that thrilled by JP II’s approach, to be quite frank; especially as I’ve learned more about the traditional Mass, I’ve been immensely frustrated by what John Paul–or rather his bishops–didn’t challenge us to learn.
    ..Which may be precisely the problem!
    Let’s face it: Mass, especially the traditional Mass, involves a learning curve. Period.
    If you don’t understand what’s happening and don’t have anyone about to help explain it all, it doesn’t matter if it’s offered versus populum, ad orientem, in Latin, in the vernacular. You won’t get it.
    I’d say that both John Paul and Francis have tended to try to steer offering Mass in a manner that’s still simple enough that the average person can still understand it, yet complex enough to draw people into the mysteries of the Eucharist.
    I find it immensely annoying because it seems to me to be mostly the same approach we took to Mass during my teens: We tried making it “appealing”.
    I’m strongly inclined to find such an approach quite patronizing because..I’m not an 8-year-old or teen-ager anymore, I don’t want to “eat” only the most simple parts. I want to eat all of it.
    I think for the moment though, we’ll need to tolerate a good deal of..angst..because whole portions of the Church..simply aren’t ready for the complexity of the Latin Mass right now.
    It’ll be nice when they are.

  167. Hank Igitur says:

    B16 came to the Papacy like 15 years too late. So let’s get over our hopeful “brick by brick” stuff, our “reform of the reform”, “biological solution” etc. A different approach is needed now. Most of his bishops and cardinals hated SP and UE with a passion and did everything with a mocking grin on their faces to subvert it. The “biological solution” has worked in THEIR favour. Just look what they did to B16’s legacy in the conclave. We now have a “spirit of VII” stormtrooper in the top job with both barrels blazing, acting like a kid in a VII candy shop. There have been great, good, ordinary, bad and very bad popes. Who knows where we are going? False humility can be a cloak of camouflage for a Trojan horse. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us. St Francis of Assisi, pray for us. St Benedict, ora pro nobis.

  168. VexillaRegis says:

    Comment deleted, do not want risking being banned.
    But Fr Z, you are a gentleman.

  169. Bea says:

    nanetteclaret says:
    28 March 2013 at 5:09 pm
    I don’t think it matters any more what he’s trying to do. He now has no moral authority, since he flouted the norms – and the usual result of flouting norms is chaos.

    Excellent point, nanetteclaret. flouting norms AND Canon law. It puts the fear of God in me and to what is to come. If we thought we had chaos before, “nuns on the bus” et al will now have a field day.

    A thought: If a Jesuit takes a vow of obedience to the Pope, does this mean Pope Francis must be obedient to himself and his whims?

    ebl says:
    28 March 2013 at 7:13 pm
    ” To me its more like “I don’t give a damn about the tradition of the church. ” It more like pride ….. “Breaking traditions and to change them according to one’s own ideas, is quite egocentric and prideful. … A truly humble man guards tradition, preserving it intact and passing it on unmodified to the next generation”

    I too had been thinking that, ebl, I don’t like to pass judgement on motives and actions, as I would not like people to judge me, either, not knowing WHY I do or say a certain thing, nevertheless, his actions do jump out as “show” or it could be naivete which God can use to write straight with crooked lines.

    Therese says:
    28 March 2013 at 8:22 pm
    I asked myself, were I the devil, what would I want for Easter? The answer, of course, is the uproar we’re having now.

    Good job, Therese. I will now leave the blog and go and meditate on God’s Passion and His Unbelievable Love for us His lowly creatures, whom He will never abandon, even unto the end of time and to whom He promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it (His Church)
    God Bless and Love you for setting things in focus.

  170. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    A public relations stunt on the part of the Holy Father? I’m referring to including women in the washing of feet, in contradiction of the rubrics.

    To reach out to a world that is saturated with anti-Catholic propoganda, by responding with a stunt is probably not going to prove very helpful. In fact, the words childish, ill-conceived, and wrongheaded would be on the table.

    Look. The Catholic Church operates more hospitals, clinics, centers for the poor and underserved than any other non-governmental entity. We are the number one charity. But people don’t seem to know this. Or appreciate this. We need to do advertising about this fact. We need to get the word out. We need to saturate the media and the streets with the information that one of the things that the Catholic Church is all about is, and has been all along.

    The anti-Catholic elites won’t make it easy for us to do this. It will cost a great deal of money. But it should be done. That’s how you get the word out, not by breaking with the good and holy rubrics.

  171. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Nancy D.,

    to say that he who denies the teaching on the Most Holy Trinity (though he deny it, granted, quite explicitly and provocatively), does not worship the One God, is to say that the Most Holy Trinity and the One God are different entities. Which they are not, er, He is not.

    With what you are saying, you do not only give the Mohammedans a point when they doubt our monotheism, but you cannot even uphold that we worship the same God as the Jehova’s Witnesses, Arians, Unitarians, and perhaps some theologically weak Protestants who could not care less about formal dogmas and along this path perhaps also fall into antitrinitarianism. But, er, we do; and I see noone doubting it. [I did not include the Mormons.]

    [Disclaimer: No, I am not trying to find a common ground with the Mohammedans. I am only against seeking opposite grounds at all costs, especially if the cost is incorrectness.]

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  174. Andrew says:

    Thank you Fr Z, for your fine reflection here. I apologize for not reading all of the posts, but here is something I posted on another facebook page.

    While not defending the action of Pope Francis (and not criticizing it either), breaking liturgical rubrics in papal ceremonies has happened before. In 1975, there was a decree from the Sacred Congregation of Divne Worship, on the inadmissibility of liturgical dancing. Yet as one interlocutour has said, “The amount of liturgical dancing in papal Masses, would rival any Broadway show”. This happened even in Sydney during World Youth Day, where Pope Benedict was celebrating the final Mass at Randwick, when in the Liturgy of the Word, we were presented with a spectacle of South Pacific dancing on the main altar! (Msgr Marini travelled to Sydney the month before, and knew all the details of what was to happen!) My reading of that has always been that when it comes to Masses said by the Holy Father in the diaspora, some allowance has to be made for inculturation. Be that as it may, it is a break from church law.

    In the light of this, and what happened at the juvenile prison, I don’t know where we can draw the line. It certainly makes it difficult for someone like me, who has been in the trenches for sometime, when we are trying to encourage those with authority, to follow the liturigical directives of the Holy See. I have criticized churches when on Holy Thursday, the foot washing ceremony included women.

    I believe Pope Francis thinks that the main problem we face now in the Catholic Church, is because of numerous church scandals that don’t seem to disappear, and that this is a serious obstacle to evangelization, meaning we have to take bold actions, in order to make the outside world think we are serious about what we believe, and that is the genesis of the action. I defended and still do his decison to offer the Holy Thursday liturgy at the juvenile prison, because it is a striking statement about empathy with the weakest. When Jesus talks in His parable about separating the sheep from the goats, the great King complained about those that didn’t visit him in prison! But in order to show this, I don’t think the Holy Father had to break a church rule. But just remember if we look at the example of recent popes, (including Pope Benedict) he is not alone there either.

  175. Ambrose Jnr says:

    Re: the muslim man and woman, whose feet were washed…

    I would add that, at least there, the pope took away the possibility of arguing that he saw the washing of the feet as implying a link to ordinations…in other words, thank God, the feet of muslims were also washed, not to give more ammo to liberals that the pope is in favour of women priests…

  176. lana says:

    joeclark77- I liked your post. I will pray for you at the Easter Vigil. I am very happy for you.

    I also am saddened by some of these reactioms. I even had to confess the doubts they raised. I got a great penance that I will keep doing, to love Pope Francis and to pray that his strength may not fail. This was from a wonderful EF priest.

  177. Jack Regan says:

    I still can’t believe some of the venom coming the way of Pope Francis on the web.

    Over at Rorate, they are bordering on sinful venom, and probably more besides.

    One thing I have always maintained is that if you think you know better than the Pope and you refuse to toe the line because you think you know better, you are guilty of liberal dissent. And whether you do it with a guitar, talking about women priests, or with a cassock talking about liturgy it’s still the same thing!!

    I think Fr. Z is taking a great line on Pope Francis and is an example to others of a traditionalist persuasion. The idea that the Pope is linking compassion with evangelisation is a brilliant one.

  178. mamajen says:


    You have some very good things to say–you should de-lurk more often! Congratulations on your conversion.

  179. asperges says:

    A faithful Catholic does not criticise the Holy Father. Speaking personally, and having read the comments above, I have to say that I cannot “tune in” to this man at all yet – and it’s probably all my instincts and biases that are to blame, I acknowledge.

    Sensibly we have to say it is still too early to make a rational and balanced judgement. We can say however that his liturgical senses are overtly at odds with his predecessor. The comment above: “I’d say it is “ad orientem” in ethos. He celebrates the Liturgy beautifully with great dignity, care and devotion.” is not evident to me at all. This I find very hard to deal with.

    To me, the last Pope was an ideal, but he chose to go, alas. At present I, for one, now feel somewhat isolated and alienated but there is more to the Church than my preferences. But I wish, how I wish, he would stop to consider how he is not relating at all to a whole sector of the Church by his attitude and demeanour at present.

    On the other hand, I admire particularly his ability to communicate and preach off the cuff and he is right about clergy and their need to engage and particularly to learn to preach well.

    We all need more time.

  180. phlogiston says:

    I can’t believe some here are questioning Pope Prancis’ intentions. Of course he has good intentions. Now about that road somewhere paved with those…

  181. Gail F says:

    I think you’re right, that IS what he’s trying to do. He is trying to heal schisms and live the Gospel. WesleyD wrote:

    “In the meantime, my hope is that Pope Francis may begin the healing of the schism between the Catholic Church and the liberal Catholics. Although not a declared schism, it basically is one in many places in the West. Many liberals view Francis with curiosity and even positive emotions, whereas they were set against Benedict from day one. If they see how much Francis cares about the poor, and how humble he is, then when he talks about the Real Presence and praying to saints and contraception and sexual immorality and the fact that Jesus alone is the source of salvation, some of them will listen to him!”

    The Church is about saving souls. Saving souls of liberals too. Saving souls of Muslims too. Saving souls of “rad trads” too. When you forbid something that is not intrinsically bad, like the TLM you effectively force some people toward extremism because extremists offer it. If Pope Francis keeps the liberal faction of Catholicism from actually splitting off, which I think is a real possibility, he will have saved them from apostasy. That’s his job as pope. Let’s not pretend here. If people like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, people with wealth and power, ended up in an “American Catholic Church” or a “Progressive Catholic Church” and faithful Catholics ended up being unable to get an education or license in many fields, couldn’t run for office because people thought they were nuts, had to stay out of a lot of professions, and generally were forced to be a marginalized and poorer group, how many would really stay? People are weak.

    And people here are forgetting that in much of the developing world, where there are very few priests, Protestants are making huge inroads because many of them don’t even require a seminary education for their ministers. They run in, “plant a church” by making some enthusiastic guy a minister (sorry, Protestants who do this, I know that’s a vast oversimplification) and set about planting more churches. This instant church gets busy helping people. Pope Francis is reaching out to them too.

    Pope Francis is a man, he’s not Christ or hte Holy Spirit. He can make mistakes. This might not have been the best idea, but reading some of the comments here I’m quite willing to think it’s not the worst either. If your trust in the man or your faith in the Church is going to waver or vanish over this, I think you need to pray some more.

  182. mike cliffson says:

    FR :
    1.Disclaimer:I don’t know the Pope, I don’t know what God wants Pope Francis to do , as Pope. I do know that what he has done and been for all his life is an open book,in the world’s second language, and , what father (Z )worried about during the conclave , he HAS undergone spooky ” judicial” process and trial by media in his own country, with every accusation thought worth making thrown.
    2.re” compassion” in your post
    From an internet quoted book on the then Archbishop, based on a series of interviews, informal and off the cuff in style.(NB stuff in Spanish that was there seems to be disappearing from internet , I suspect website managers or bloggers are fed up with mistranslation , spin, and twist of obiter dicta, etc .)
    my translation, my caps. Notice even in an interview the typical Bergoglio triad: being /human being/ child)
    interviewer: “Many say opposition to abortion is a religious(implicit: only) question”
    “No way…A n expectant woman is not carrying a toothbrush in her womb, nor a tumor. Science shows/teaches that from the moment of conception, the new being has complete genetic code.It’s impressive.(This) is not, then a (implicit :purely)religious question , but rather clearly a moral one on a scientific base, because we are in the presence of a human being.”
    Int.:” But the moral grading of The woman who aborts is the same as the person who carries it out?”
    ” I wouldn’t talk of (moral)gradation . But I feel much greater, I wouldn’t call it pity , but rather compassion, in the biblical sense of that word, being and undergoing/suffering with(NT:also the transparent latinate spanish roots of the compound com padecer), for a woman who aborts under who should know what pressures, than for those professionals- or unprofessionals
    who act for money and with an unique coldness…./… this coldness contrasts with the problems of conscience , the pangs of remorse which many women who have aborted have after a few years .(You) have to be in the confessional and listen to these (colloquial augmentative) dramas, because they KNOW they killed their child.”
    Depends what you mean by compassion , I suppose. In this interview the holy father puts it straight into the confessional, with an impersonal construction, at that.

  183. Gaetano says:

    After reading Jimmy Akin on the issue, my heart is more at peace:
    I will bring all of this to prayer during the Stations of the Cross this morning.

  184. CatholicByChoice says:

    Response for Jack Hughes:
    you wrote “how can I love this man whilst he pours scorn on the time valued traditions of the Church in the name of ‘being humble’?”

    “Being humble” IS the valued tradition of the Church. Please spend some time with reading the early Church Fathers, and of course with Jesus himself. Also, spend time reviewing the Seven Deadly Sins, and their corresponding virtues. I recommend starting with Cassian’s Conferences: http://www.osb.org/lectio/cassian/conf/index.html

    I hope this helps. I think the Church needs more Priests who practice humility. May God bless you.

  185. Imrahil says:

    Dear @phlogiston,

    Now about that road somewhere paved with those [good intentions]

    Said G. K. Chesterton (not literally, but very directly by the sense):

    Good intentions is the very one thing it is not paved with.

  186. lizaanne says:

    I am profoundly sad. He is my Pope, I will always remain loyal to Peter and the Church. But I can still be sad and disappointed.

  187. Random Friar says:

    As a Dominican, I’ve found that trying to figure out what a Jesuit is up to is a fruitless and hair-pulling exercise. One becoming pope is a novel thing.

    My one frustration is that this makes those of us who tried to remain faithful to what the Church asked seem as if we were wasting our time or sold down the river. The next thing I try to be faithful to — then what? I will be under even more pressure from confreres and faithful alike.

  188. mamajen says:

    This “false humility” meme that traditionalists have adopted over the past couple of weeks is utterly ridiculous to me. I can’t think of a single powerful liberal (and I am NOT saying that our pope is a liberal, but many trads are) who is willing to do without worldly luxuries in order to show off, play the media, etc.

    As an example, recently a local paper ran a front page piece about a liberal catholic parish where non-Catholics are given communion, the Holy Spirit is referred to as “She”, the priest laments that he can’t do same sex marriages, and where parishioners are encouraged to protest the bishop’s opposition to the contraception mandate. Etc. etc. etc. The parish is lauded for their work with the inner-city poor, and the priest treated as a hero because he lives among them. But toward the end of the article it was mentioned that the priest also still owns the family home, has all the money he inherited from his wealthy family, and golfs regularly at an exclusive country club. We have all seen plenty of examples of “limousine liberals”, the Obamas being among the most flagrant recently.

    Pope Francis is the real deal, I’m convinced. He talks the talk and walks the walk. People do not give up worldly comforts for worldly reasons. They just don’t. I’m not saying it’s impossible that pride sneaks into the picture sometimes, or that he hasn’t made mistakes, but I am certain his intentions are pure. Mother Teresa was, and still is, a very popular figure who was photographed and videotaped often. Does anyone want to suggest that she was pretending her humility? Maybe I shouldn’t ask. Considering she’s on the road to sainthood with one miracle under her belt, I think she managed to convince God.

    Pope Francis’ lifestyle flies in the face of the nasty picture some are trying to paint of him.

  189. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The tradition of the Church includes a certain ruthlessness in times of need, something often exhibited by saints and good pastors. 99 sheep are left behind so that the shepherd can find the lost 100th. The good elder son doesn’t get the party with his friends or even a messenger that his prodigal brother’s come home.

    That doesn’t mean that the 99 sheep aren’t loved. It means that the shepherd trusts them. It doesn’t mean that the elder son isn’t loved. It means that the father trusts him to be frugal with the whole estate.

    Pope Francis knows that we know what we’re doing, so he’s not worried about us. We’re not lost.

  190. CatholicByChoice says:

    May I suggest that Pope Francis choosing to model for us the behavior of Humility is not so much for the benefit of the poor, as many on this board seem to think, but for YOUR OWN BENEFIT and the benefit of all of us prideful people.

    Of the Seven Deadly sins, pride is the worst. The practice of humility is the “medicine” (“virtue”) that overcomes pride. I believe that the Holy Spirit sent us the Pope we need, and that the Holy Spirit surveyed the world and found Pride exhibited everywhere He looked…we are a prideful people. The Holy Spirit then, out of His great love, sent us the tonic for pride: Humility.

    And it is Obedience that begins to open the door to Humility.

    There is a lot of talk about “tradition” here, but the Jesus and the early Church Fathers are the true “tradition” of the Catholic Church.

    The “liberals” or “conservatives” are not the ones you need to be concerned about. The enemy is the one you need to be concerned about.

    May God bless you.

  191. Random Friar says:

    @Suburbanbanshee: I understand the sentiment, but it does seem to feel as if we elder sons are abandoned, if we are left to wither under constant attack without support from above. The Prodigal Son’s brother was always safe. His shepherds are under constant attack; we are not in peaceful lands. If there is no clarification or reinforcement, then we have been fools all along. How can I tell anyone in my parish to follow anything in the Mass? Why not change something, anything, in order to make a momentary point?

  192. boxerpaws1952 says:

    ok.Pope Francis washed the feet of women on Holy Thursday.Our Church is now in very deep trouble.
    Ok.Pope Francis doesn’t keep making it clear that he’s the Supreme Pontiff and instead refers to himself as the Bishop of Rome. Our Church is now going to crumble into dust.
    Ok.Pope Francis may not care what the liberals,media or trads have to say since the previous Pope-our Pope Emeritus-was vilified on a regular basis as well.
    I don’t think holy includes worrying about what ppl might say about you. I’m not saying Pope Francis is above criticism,but at this point am a little disgusted.

  193. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The other interesting thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that Muslims also have a tradition of footwashing — but it’s only self-washing, as purification before prayer. Also, that men don’t touch unrelated women, and that feet are unclean and despised, and that it’s a great insult to even point your feet toward someone.

    Pope Francis assaulted all those Muslim sensibilities, with an override of love. He is telling Muslim girls (and boys) that they are precious and beloved, whatever Islamic society tells them; and that God is a loving Father, not a god who condemns adoption of human children by human families as impossible (in the Koran); and that they should become Christian and worship Love Himself.

  194. jc464 says:

    I’m just disappointed that he didn’t use puppets.

  195. rhhenry says:

    I’m going to mis-use some terms and exaggerate, just to make my point clearer (I hope), so please read the following in that spirit:

    I think Pope Francis became Pope at a difficult time of the the liturgical calendar to begin a “papacy of humility and service” — taking over just before Holy Week. If he “sets the tone” by doing humble things (private Holy Thursday Mass, eschewing the Papal apartments, etc.) and ignoring the pomp and circumstance of Holy Week, he angers the Traddies. If he embraces “the trappings of the Papacy” during Holy Week and then starts doing humble things, the criticism will be that he only started doing the humble stuff when he got criticism for being too regal and aloof.

    If only he had been elected Pope in August or something — then he could have started his papacy celebrating private Masses in prisons and hospitals, visiting the shut-ins, feeding the hungry, etc., and then — having established the theme of his Papacy — could have “ramped up” the fancy stuff for Lent.

    Not sure if that’s too clear after all, but that’s my two-cents . . .


  196. rhhenry says:

    Edit: Read “Advent” for “Lent.” And I even proofread the preview. Sigh.

  197. Anchorite says:

    From the start, you had showed us that for priests the true humility, the true service to us Catholics, the true change comes in utmost perfection in celebrating the Mass. You said: “Save the Liturgy, Save the World!” You had been so specific on who and how and when the blue vestments can/should be used.
    The content of Francis’s message is pretty clear – you will find hardly anyone missing his message. In fact, it is as plain and clear as a platitude can be, bordering on being a thought-terminating cliché: “Help one another … This is what I do. And I do it with my heart.”
    What you might be ignoring are the elephants in the room. Not one, but several – too many for such a small space on that Holy Thursday:
    – the man was elected to papacy, yet he is obviously uncomfortable to even call himself a Pope, let alone live in where a pope should live, dress like one, and behave like one (that bow to Mugabe was as bizarre as Obama’s profound bow to the Saudi king or Japanese emperor).
    – breaking Church’s rules in front of the world (that frowns on them) and the believers (that can’t help but break them due to a devastatingly thorough self-annihilation of Catholic identity).
    – washing the feet of girls and Muslims.
    Now, I understand the rationale of coming to prison. I even understand popes’ rationale behind kissing Quran, praying in mosques and synagogues, and calling for “dialogue,” but what strikes me is how WRONG (on so many levels) it is to co-opt a jailed young Muslim girl into the “message!”

  198. jbosco88 says:

    Jack Hughes: “how can I love this man whilst he pours scorn on the time valued traditions of the Church in the name of ‘being humble’?”

    Love in the Christian way is surely different to that coupled with “affection” or (as Bl JPII put it) “lust”. We are all called to love others in the Christian way – not least because Christ is found in each one of us.

    I am already weary of Pope Francis’ actions, but he is only a man, and men make mistakes. Pray for him. You desire to be a Priest? Humility and obedience are important. And very Jesuit.

  199. rkingall says:

    Well, I’m trying not to be too bummed out by this. I am hopeful that all this means is that Pope F., as Father Z writes, is placing more emphasis on evangelization. Like so many others, I am in a kind of mourning, even though I’m not positive what is lost. I don’t want to believe that BXVI’s reforms are dead in the water. I pray this is not so. I have been gearing up to attend my first ever Latin Mass in April (I bought a mantilla and some long skirts!). Surprisingly, I don’t have to travel too far. There are 2 churches within an hour’s drive of my home that have TLM. And I live in liberal utopia New Jersey, so this was a delightful find.

    I was born in 1971. The only Catholicism I ever knew from K-12 Catholic schooling and Mass was the guitar-playing nuns and felt banners crowd. I firmly believe that so many in my generation just slipped away from the Church because there was nothing to hold onto. Do you realize how many pedestrian and non-confrontational homilies I’ve sat though? I abandoned faith for a good period of time and have only returned to the Church in the last 15 years or so. And only *really* have come to be faithful Catholic in the last year.

    I realize that the parish I belong to is not totally felt-banner, but about half-way there. Instead of reverential music to accompany the liturgy, I feel like I am back in 6th grade with the guitars and flutes playing. Yes, more than half of the 12 that got their feet washed last night were women. What can I say? I’ve seen this for years. The bright spots are that confessions are weekly, and are offered several times a week during Advent and Lent. We say the Miraculous Medal novena every Monday after Mass, we have an active Rosary Altar Society, which I am so happy I joined. I have been telling myself that I can not only survive, but thrive in a parish like this if I can get to TLM at least once or twice a month. I hope I am not being overly simplistic.

    I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I read all the comments about all hope being lost. I don’t want to think like that. I had that feeling last November.

    Pray for the Holy Father and for all of us.

  200. TLM says:

    Ooops, hit send too soon.
    Anyway, my grandmother never missed Mass or spoke disparagingly of it when the Norvus Ordo became the only one offered.
    After many years, the Norvus Ordo changed so much that I just felt I wasn’t even in a Catholic Church anymore. The sermons were not teaching anything and I stopped attending altogether.
    Then I saw Pope Benedict saying midnight Mass on Christmas Eve a couple years ago and I wondered if I could find the TLM

  201. frjamesomaha says:

    As a priest, I can tell you last night I was sitting with another priest talking about this. I am what many call a Neo-Con, Reform-of-the-Reform type. He is for the most part orthodox but slightly more “open” to some “options”. Anyway, I brought it up, and simply said, “What does this say to us priests about following liturgical law?” He said, “It says we don’t have to.” That in a nutshell is the problem with what Pope Francis did yesterday. He has paved the way for wacko experimental priests to bring in clowns and balloons to liturgy again. And then to use a folk guitar group of musicians? Are we going back to St. Louis Jesuit music? Is he going to dismantle the organs in St. Peters and put in pianos?

    I know all of this sounds pretty ridiculous, but hear me out. It’s the same argument I have against same-sex marriage (besides the theological one): where does it stop? If we allow gay marriage, then pretty soon they’ll be petitioning for man/animal marriage, and marriage between siblings, and marriage between adults and children….WHERE DOES IT END?

    In the same way with liturgical abuse, where will it end with him? Washing MUSLIM womens feet? How about offering them communion? I mean, you don’t want them to feel left out – you want them to FEEL welcomed. Well, how about having a Rabbi concelebrate with you? After all, we’ve pretty much plagarized their Passover meal and turned it into the Mass, so they might be offended and talk bad about us.

    I had so much hope when I saw him bowing before his people asking them to pray for him. I had so much hope when he went to pay his hotel bill. I started losing hope when he refused to live in the Papal apartment and chose to live in a hotel. I now find myself in spiritual despair now that he has broken the law. I wondered last night as I was falling asleep what Pope Emeritus Benedict thinks about all this. Cardinal Burke? Humility is one thing – making the papacy look cheap and above the law is another. God help the Church!

  202. Allan S. says:

    When a cleric violates the rubrics, laws or rules he swore an oath to uphold…it is a bad thing.

    When a Pope does it it is an infinitely worse thing, for he is not saying he is opposed to those rules, but that the rules themselves don’t matter and need not be obeyed by anyone.

    This is because they are his rules – and he could change them if he wants. The fact that he chose not to is a teaching to all of us. And what I have now been taught is that the rules don’t matter. It is OK to set them aside. And if one rule, why not another? Or all if them?

    Dissenters can now argue – only this time from evidence and logic – that they need not obey the Church. Or that the rules are situational and subject to personal whim and choice. The Bishop of Rome just underbussed every faithful priest on the front lines of defending obedience and the Church in the face of dissent.

    The Pope is always teaching. Always.

    On what basis now does the Pope have any moral authority to claim obedience when he promulgates some new law next week, month etc.? Could we now not say “well yes, I understand that the Pope issued this or that, but I have decided that I don’t really need to do it that way. You know, like those mandatum rubrics. In a way, I’m being obedient to his teaching when I disobey him.”

    This isn’t a slippery slope. It is a cliff. And the Holy Father…sorry, Bishop if Rome…just tossed the virtue of obedience off of it. For everyone. And just because some priests may choose to still follow this virtue will not in anyway be an argument that some other cleric must do likewise. It’s all a matter of personal choice and conscience now.

    I will pray for the Pope, but I will no longer endanger my personal salvation by reading what he writes or watching videos of what he says or does. His teaching is incompatible with what I need to do to work out my personal salvation. I liked it better when the Church was a reliable intermediary.

    And let’s pray for faithful priests, for they will now have double the fight with enemies on both fronts, ad intra et extra. The good ones will receive no support when they do right, and the bad ones no correction when they err.

  203. TLM says:

    Ooops, hit send too soon.
    Anyway, my grandmother never missed Mass or spoke disparagingly of it when the Norvus Ordo became the only one offered.
    After many years, the Norvus Ordo changed so much that I just felt I wasn’t even in a Catholic Church anymore. The sermons were not teaching anything and I stopped attending altogether.
    Then I saw Pope Benedict saying midnight Mass on Christmas Eve a couple years ago and I wondered if I could find the TLM where I live.
    After a visit to my old parish church I was a bit disturbed, it had been remodeled and it wasn’t God’s presence that I felt in there. So an email exchange with the paster ended in a debate (I only asked if the EF was offered there or where I could find it) on Vatican II. Then an email from the pastor of another parish told me about the FSSP parish that I’ve been with ever since.
    I guess the point is that the liturgy, for me, is important.
    It would be nice to see Pope Francis offer a TLM Mass which would send everyone the message that this form is to be offered and accepted and well as a (hopefully reformed) Norvus Ordo.

  204. TLM says:

    Ooops, hit send too soon.
    Anyway, my grandmother never missed Mass or spoke disparagingly of it when the Norvus Ordo became the only one offered.
    After many years, the Norvus Ordo changed so much that I just felt I wasn’t even in a Catholic Church anymore. The sermons were not teaching anything and I stopped attending altogether.
    Then I saw Pope Benedict saying midnight Mass on Christmas Eve a couple years ago and I wondered if I could find the TLM where I live.
    After a visit to my old parish church I was a bit disturbed, it had been remodeled and it wasn’t God’s presence that I felt in there. So an email exchange with the paster ended in a debate (I only asked if the EF was offered there or where I could find it) on Vatican II. Then an email from the pastor of another parish told me about the FSSP parish that I’ve been with ever since.
    I guess the point is that the liturgy, for me, is important.
    It would be nice to see Pope Francis offer a TLM Mass which would send everyone the message that this form is to be offered and accepted and well as a (hopefully reformed) Norvus Ordo.
    Hope this doesn’t post twice, got an error message.

  205. SGCOLC says:

    Many of the comments here are, I think, making unfair assumptions about good liturgically-minded priests, as if, because Pope Francis washed the feet of girls in his Holy Thursday Mass, suddenly priests all around the world are going to follow his example and start washing women’s feet! My Pastor is never going to have ANY foot washing in his Mass, and I seriously doubt Fr. Z is suddenly going to adopt the washing of women’s feet at his Mass. Just as, in Pope John Paul II’s day, good liturgically-minded priests didn’t begin all adopting liturgical dance and happy-clappy guitar music at their Masses. There are many, many good young priests in parishes now who are going to keep on celebrating correct and beautiful (old and new rite) Masses regardless of what happens in Rome. For that matter, many of those good young priests received their call to the priesthood during Pope JP II’s time, and have not followed the example of his many strange public Masses.

  206. Rob22 says:

    It’s going to be a transformational Papacy IMO.

    I think there will be a move towards female deacons and a re-look at the theological basis to the all-male priesthood.

  207. netokor says:

    I never experienced the Tridentine Mass until Benedict side-stepped the red tape and made it available to many. It never should have been denied us in the first place. I regard that as tyranny, as no one wanted to do away with the option of the NO Mass. I will cherish every time that I am able to attend this sublime, Holy Mass that reminds us that the focus is the Holy Sacrifice offered by a Holy Priest of God, wearing beautiful priestly vestments, a sacramental. Yesterday, no one was scandalized as our priest washed the feet of men in our Parish. We remembered the Lord washing the feet of his apostles, men chosen by Him. No second guessing this priest’s intentions. I pray for Francis, but how I miss Benedict. May the Lord continue to allow us the Tridentine Mass.

  208. Rushintuit says:

    For Sale: One slightly used set of Brick by Brick mugs.

  209. Glen M says:

    The Pope Francis hysteria displayed by some ‘traditionalist’ Catholics is amusing. In seriousness though, anyone making statements such as “I can’t stay in this church” is by definition a Protestant.

    Those who regard themselves as ‘traditional’ would be wise to practice tradition by keeping recent developments in perspective. Remember the Church was created by Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. He told us the gates of Hell will never prevail, but He didn’t say there wouldn’t be challenges. We’ve been through worse – just read about the Age of Martyrs or any of the reformist saints (i.e. St. Gregory the Great, St. Benedict, St. Teresa Avila, St. Catherine Sienna, etc).

    The Vatican II Council Fathers wanted reforms to the Church: to the liturgy and the role of the laity (among others). The Council was then high-jacked by modernists who took control of the Church, misinterpreted the documents and gave us things like Communion in the hand. It’s easy to blame the ‘traditionalists’ of the day for allowing this to happen, but that won’t get us anywhere. It’s better to recognize we live in a much different world today that I doubt will permit such deviations to tradition. One commentator here said something like ‘can you image this debate occurring ten years ago?’ Indeed.

    Michael Voris calls the Internet the Great Equalizer. How much have we regulars learned from Fr Z alone? Many of us will be with our extended families this weekend including members who are lapsed Catholics. What a great teaching opportunity Pope Francis’ washing of women’s feet gives us more informed faithful.

    For Example:
    When someone says: “Wasn’t it great that Pope Francis washed the feet of women? Just like our pastor has been doing for years!” Consider replying with: “As much as I love our pope, I’m disappointed he broke the liturgical rules of the Church. The liturgy isn’t anyone’s toy, including the pope himself. However, I trust in God and hope his actions do some good. Maybe some Muslims converted on Holy Thursday.”

    “There are liturgical rules?” “Of course. There is the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Every priest is supposed to “Say the black and do the red”. Free lancing and ad libbing can make a Mass illicit. You should read http://www.wdtprs.com

    Someone else may interject: “Well, since the pope is infallible anything he does is right.” Then you can respond: “Actually, only when the pope teaches on doctrine are his words infallible as per Vatican I. The pope is a mortal sinner just like you and me. He goes to Confession as I hope everyone here did to fulfill their Easter obligation and of course remove any mortal sin. Heck, the pope may state the Cubs will win the World Series this year, that doesn’t mean it will happen. Only God could perform that miracle.”

    I think you get the idea.

    The Holy Spirit has given us Pope Francis and it’s not for anyone to say it was wrong (which could be a mortal sin). Pope Francis is a gift – it’s up to us laity to open it and use it as intended. Fr. Z. has given his guidance: stop complaining and go out into the world and the Church and show the way. Provide catechesis to your lapsed family members, participate in your local pro-life organization, start a Summorum Pontificum ‘stable group’ if none exists in your parish, etc. In other words: quit whining and start doing something.

  210. rdschreiner says:

    So does anyone know if what Pope Francis did in Argentina actually work? I would expect that objective measures like church membership, attendance, marriages, baptisms, charitable contributions, vocations, etc. should all be at least stable, if not on the increase relative to the other Latin American countries.

  211. Scarltherr says:

    I don’t think Pope Francis’s example is going to undo any of the good work done by previous Popes. It will simply add another level of good work. Last night our Mass included three languages to meet the needs of the parish, English, Spanish and Latin. The only people on the altar were men and boys. Even the choir was the all male teen choir which includes my son. The Mass was facing the original tabernacle using the original altar, but not TLM. It was solemn, prayerful, beautiful. It was easy to understand the relationship between Holy Thursday and the institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist. That important message was highlighted in the homily. I can’t imagine that our pastor would change anything unless forced, and I don’t think our Pope would have any reason to force a change.

  212. TLM says:

    My apologies. The first posting doesn’t seem to have appeared and the second one appeared several times. So, it loses the gist. I an so sorry. iPhone’s and typing lead to major fat finger problems.

  213. Robbie says:

    Why can’t evangelization and tradition exist at the same time? It’s not an either/or proposition, is it? It is possible for the Pope to dress the part while ministering to the poorest among us, correct?

    Some seem to think concern about washing the feet of a woman is an overreaction. On its own, the answer is probably yes. At least for me though, my unease has to do with the collection of events that have taken place in the last two weeks.

    Ministering to the poor can coexist with a Church that values and promotes its Tradition and its traditions.

  214. ErnieB says:

    Robbie @ 6:05 pm
    I agree with some of your thoughts on the election of the Pope….but more on that below. There are/were many Holy Jesuits holding fast to Mother Church ( i.e. Fr. John Hardon, Fr. William Doyle come to mind). Discretion is needed in the sifting.
    Fr. Augustine @12:17 am
    So true, way too much bile here (I hope I am holding my tongue). Us faithful to the whole of Mother Church need to exercise patience and humility too. Time spent in adoration will be fruitful and blessed.
    Random Friar @7:59 am
    Do not despair or be anxious. Stand fast to the whole truth of God , faithful to the whole of Mother Church and obedient to Jesus Christ. I, too, must remind myself that without deep trust in God merciful ways I would be lost as Judas…despairing in the end.

    Now, some thoughts on Holy Father Francis and his election as our Shepherd (and please don’t hang me for this).
    I feel the electors rely deeply and prayerfully on the Holy Spirit to guide them and that God will be with His Church (and has for 2000+ years). That being said He also gives us the free will to choose any path or direction without interference. Just look at the salvation history of His people as a whole and (since this being Holy Week) Judas Iscariot as and example. At any time God’s Holy Arm could and can intercede, but out of deep love ( and perhaps sorrow) He freely allows us to choose, yes even Hell. In the lesson of the prodigal son, His wish is we return for mercy and love. He will guide and be with us through all steps of the journey, even papacies. Just persevere and “believe, adore, trust and love Him.”

  215. Bev says:

    There are heresies that the Church has sacrificed much to put down. Heresies like a women priesthood. Francis says with his mouth that women cannot be priests but says with his actions that women can be priests. This is the consequence of his Holy Thursday liturgy. The faithful are being confused. Vatican II brought confusion; Novus Ordo brought confusion; now Francis brings confusion. What we need is a firm dose of clarity! I think it would be great if Fr. Z’s readers offered their penances and fasting today, Good Friday, as an act of reparation for what Pope Francis did, and with the intent that he brings clarity to Catholic teaching.

  216. catholicmidwest says:

    amrc, you said, “Aren’t we supposed to be going with Our Lord into the “garden”?”

    There are two underlying themes to the Holy Thursday liturgy:
    1) The institution of the Eucharist, which happens during the last supper and is usually given a back seat to the 2nd theme in the liturgies of Holy Thursday, which I’ve never understood.
    2) The institution of the priesthood to support the Eucharist. This is dependent on the 1st theme because it is for this and for service that the priesthood is being instituted and this is very clear in scripture. The apostles are told, “Do this in memory of me” during the institution of the Eucharist. But then they are rebuked during the footwashing that precedes it that ” 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[b] is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.” John 13:16. The foot-washing segment usually gets used very loosely in a lot of ways to make what seems like a lot of “popular points” but this is what scripture actually says about it. In the whole narrative, it’s a rather minor detail, unless a) it’s placed in the context of all the infighting that went on amongst the disciples over who was the most important among them AND unless b) it’s placed in the context of Judas’ who is mentioned by name during the foot-washing passages. It’s a caution more than a grand endorsement, if you want to know the truth.

    The foot-washing doesn’t have the same weight in all the Gospels and in fact in several of them doesn’t even appear. In close proximity to these passages is the story of Mary Magdalene washing Jesus’ feet with her hair, which has a different motif altogether, a prophetic one about the identity of Jesus among other things.

    RE the Garden of Gethsemane: Jesus and the apostles in Gethsemane are usually remembered late Thursday night, and over into Friday, with the crucifixion. The passion and crucifixion are usually put together like this by Catholics in general, in my experience.

  217. boxerpaws1952 says:

    i had to come back because i was very sorry to read one of the comments say they were leaving the Church. Maybe we need to practice some humility ourselves? Not the ONLY reason i came back-this time it’s to defend Pope Francis.
    1. He’s trying to bring attention to himself. The night he stepped out on the balcony and they proclaimed Habemus Papum and said his name how many people thought,”who?” Myself included.
    If this were a man trying to draw attention to himself he hasn’t been doing a very good job of it over the years has he? We hardly knew who he was.I had no idea who he was period.
    2. He could have washed the feet of JUST the men in the prison.
    3. NO we are not going to see female altar servers and women priests.
    4. I hear from the comments how disrespectful and irreverent Pope Francis is in offering the Mass. Would these ppl care to spell this out?
    5. The washing of women’s feet and his simplicity is a big scandal to the Church. We can hear the liberals and trads in background having their say on what Pope Francis is up to-from their pov.I don’t know if anyone has read any news in the last few yrs but do you really think this is a big scandal in the Church? The Church is being attacked on a regular basis with the most vile accusations i have heard in my lifetime over the sex abuse.IMHO Pope Francis simplicity is not going to cause any scandal in the Church except the laity coming at him from both sides.It’s the filth that the Pope Emeritus was bound and determined to clean out that has damaged the Church.
    6.I grew up with the Latin Mass and attended both Latin and NO eventually. i would say the NO came midstream in my life. Everything else aside i could understand the scripture readings,the Eucharistic prayers and found there was no reason not to turn my heart to God.
    I left the Church at one point so I’m in no position to judge anyone on those matters. I can tell you though it had nothing to do with either the NO or Traditional Mass. Once you fall away it hardly matters which form of Mass the priest is using. The drift away began when we attended the Traditional and was complete by the time the Church had reached the NO.
    Enough of my personal tragedy back to Pope Francis. I will say this.PLS do not leave the Church. You have no idea what you’re getting into. Trust me, the inclination to do so is not coming from Pope Francis.
    Our Pope Emeritus resigned and is STILL with the Church. Pope Francis now has to fill his shoes so to speak. His Holiness Benedict the XVI had to fill the shoes of his predecessor. How many times did we hear how he was not Blessed John Paul II? I don’t know how many times we have to hear Pope Francis is not Benedict the XVI.Of course he’s not. Anymore than Benedict was Blessed John Paul II. (There is a higher calling than Pope.That is saint).
    Which reminds me.Blessed John Paul II called for a New Evangelization. His Holiness Benedict the XVI took up that call. It’s a tall order given the world we live in now. Pope Francis took those words to heart and is calling on the laity and clergy to carry it out as he does so BY EXAMPLE.
    You will know them by their fruits and from what i am picking up from various people around the internet-a microcosm of what may be taking place outside the digital world-i think we should wait and judge Pope Francis by the FRUITS and they seem to be coming in small unheard whispers. Can we give him time? Is he REALLY destroying the Church? Can we calm down and take a few steps back?

  218. Midwest St. Michael says:

    From The Magnificat’s Lenten Companion meditation yesterday.

    “Christian charity flows from the Eucharist, which is the gift that Christ on this holy night left his Church. He confides the Eucharist to the priests of all time. The disciples whose feet Jesus washes *represent all the priests who throughout time serve the Church*. Christ further commands priests to instruct the world about the true nature of divine charity.” (stars added)

    Reflection based on John 13:1-15
    Father Romanus Cessario, O.P.

    Well, I guess Fr. Cessario was a tad off then?


  219. netokor says:

    “And let’s pray for faithful priests, for they will now have double the fight with enemies on both fronts, ad intra et extra. The good ones will receive no support when they do right, and the bad ones no correction when they err.” Yes, Allan, you are right. We must. We know the gates of hell will not prevail–and that is comfort, but implicit in that statement is also the sad reality that they will wreak havoc.

  220. Pingback: What is Pope Francis really saying? | Fr. Z’s Blog (olim: What Does The Prayer Really Say?) | Being Catholic

  221. This or the equivalent thereof: “The Holy Spirit has given us Pope Francis and it’s not for anyone to say it was wrong…” is almost always followed by something to the effect: “quit whining and start doing something.”

    Never mind for the moment that the first statement is categorically false. The second statement amounts to “shut up”. People are telling the critics to shut up, not because the criticisms are false, they are merely observations based on the actual words and actions of this Pope, and personal opinions or interpretations of those actions and words, but because these people simply don’t want to hear it. Why? Because they are scared and out of their element. The bricks are coming down, and they don’t know what to do.

    Well, instead of telling you people to “shut up” back, I’m going to offer something far more productive than what you are offering us critics: go to the Traditional Latin Mass and embrace fully traditional Catholicism, and simply ignore the stupidity in the novus ordo Church. Before the end times, it will become very difficult, and in many places near impossible, to recognize the Catholic Church. I know for a fact, however, that wherever the true Church is there will be the Traditional Latin Mass.

    Easter blessings!

  222. boxerpaws1952 says:

    for those attacking Pope Francis because he is a Jesuit-let’s not forget he was at odds with them over their ‘liberalism’.
    He was at odds with the government of Argentina and they gave him the boot for standing up for Church doctrine.
    We had heard of none of this until he was elected Pope,but it speaks volumes and the charges against him for being a ‘liberal’ Jesuit are unfair and UNFOUNDED. BTW> i am sure if he was making a point of reminding us on a regular basis that he is the Supreme Pontiff while we have our Pope Emeritus that people would then be accusing him of belittling the pontificate of His Holiness Benedict. We have never had a Pope in the position he’s in now with a predecessor stepping down. He definitely walks a fine line between being Pope Francis(himself) and respecting His Holiness.I’m just as sure that he is aware that people will be making comparisons and feel he is not up to the task.God reaches us where we are. He doesn’t change personalities.

    I’m with mamajen. He is just as much the real deal as was Blessed John Paul II and His Holiness Benedict the XVI. IMHO he will press on in spite of the attacks.Is Pope Francis a liberal? I highly doubt it. Is Pope Francis a man on a mission?I’m convinced. He may not have much time.

  223. The Masked Chicken says:

    Glen M,

    In an otherwise helpful post, you wrote:

    ” The pope is a mortal sinner just like you and me.”

    Just be a little more careful with the rhetorical flourishes. You do not know the soul of the Pope. That he is a sinner is true, because all men are sinners. That his sins are mortal is a fact that you, ordinarily, would not have first-hand knowledge of and even if you did, it would, ordinarily, be the sin of detraction to reveal it, publicly.

    I know the heat of writing got to you. Just be a bit more careful.

    The Chicken

  224. boxerpaws1952 says:

    “A friend who has been absent from the Church for years now, wrote to me and said that with the advent of Pope Francis he might now come back to the Church.” Good! i understood exactly everything you were saying (you were right)but if this is what God used to bring him back do not look a gift horse in the mouth.

  225. boxerpaws1952 says:

    *represent all the priests who throughout time serve the Church*. there is both a ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of all believers.

  226. boxerpaws1952 says:

    the lesson of Jesus washing the disciples feet was to show them by example humility. That was Jesus message..to serve…and if that’s what we take away from it whether it’s the priests or prisoners(as His Holiness Benedict the XVI ALSO did)it matters.

  227. Rob22 says:

    A nun told me she thinks Francis will usher in a new springtime of womens’ vocations in the US. Because of the respect he is showing women and the promise of changes to come. It will be interesting to follow vocations in the coming years and see if this hoped for outcome comes to pass.

  228. Pingback: Father Z explains what he believes Pope Francis is trying to get across | Foolishness to the world

  229. netokor says:

    And Bev, thank you for your post also. One of the worst weapons of hell is confusion. What distinguishes our Holy Church is its authority delegated by our Lord to the Apostolic Succession. Authority is meant to define matters clearly so that there is no ambiguity, misinterpretation–confusion. We have seen how without an objective authority, the Protestant world has engendered thousands of different denominations.

  230. boxerpaws1952 says:

    did i actually read the comment that Pope Francis is making the Papacy look cheap? Tell me,i’m wrong. Said enough already. I am upset but am not leaving the Church. Division even on this level cannot be good for us. The conclusion i have to draw is let’s at least give Pope Francis time before we judge so harshly.

  231. Nan says:

    boxerpaws, this is also encouraging people leave. I was raised against Church teaching and to specifically believe that the rules are man’s rules, not God’s. Christ washed the feet of the Apostles, his chosen followers, whose successors are with us. What message does it send to wash the feet of children? Who aren’t all Catholic? Including girls? To me is says that I have no hope of Salvation because the Church is about man’s rules. It’s completely pointless to go back. Not wearing the mozetta didn’t bother me but changing what Christ did is a huge problem. The Catholic Church claims to be the only Church that Christ founded. How can that be true if its leader doesn’t follow His teaching?

  232. Anchorite says:

    The Chicken,
    Glen M likely meant that Francis is a “mortal (human being) sinner” – not that Glen M somehow has knowledge of Francis’s soul being in “mortal sin.”

  233. netokor says:

    “I know for a fact, however, that wherever the true Church is there will be the Traditional Latin Mass.” Amen, David!

  234. StJude says:

    Yesterday I wrote..”Whats the big deal..”
    after reading all the comments and especially from “frjamesomaha”.
    I apologize for that unthinking flippant comment. These comments have given me a lot to think about.

  235. Glen M says:

    Dear Chicken,

    Thank you for the correction. What I meant to say was “the pope is mortal and a sinner just like you and me.” Of course I don’t know the state of anyone else’s soul; I was trying to highlight papal infallibility.

    Pope Francis’ pontificate isn’t a month old yet and already some people are drawing conclusions. It would be prudent to trust in God and see what happens. ‘Traditionalists’ are being observed carefully right now. This pontificate (as all others) is an opportunity to display charity, wisdom, and leadership. That’s what I mean by advising some to quit whining and start doing something. I realize some of us have been active for quite awhile. This is not a time for despair – it’s an opportunity for sainthood.

    Pope Francis may be the best thing that’s happened for the traditional movement. We had a pope who tried to ‘reform the reform’ yet how many Ordinary Form parishes around the world followed his vision? The rebellious do whatever they want anyway. It’s how liturgically obedient laity respond to acts like washing women’s feet on Holy Thursday that will restore reverence or not.

    It could be that our liturgically unorthodox pope will be the one to reform the Curia, the Jesuits, and build a bridge to welcome the Great Schismatics home. If he were to accomplish that yet wash women’s feet every Holy Thursday then I’m ok with it. Restoring liturgical tradition is a ground game that seems to be up to the laity to enact. As Fr Z has been advising: Keep Calm and Carry On.

  236. djc says:

    Just a tremendous post Fr. Z.

    I think everyone needs to just calm down. The world is not ending. The growth in the church is basically traditional and is not going away. In Africa and Asia the church is growing exponentially and it is a Novus Ordo church with faithful liturgies, bursting seminaries and dramatically increasing conversions.

    Does anyone truly believe Pope Francis wants harm to come to Traditional Catholics? I wouldn’t have done what Pope Francis has done regarding his living quarters or the washing the feet of a Muslim girl but I don’t see any nefarious plots to change the faith. Let us pray for each other during this holiest time of the year.


  237. Lucas Whittaker says:

    @ FrJim4321:

    You said:
    “I have, in general, [the feeling] of being able to breath again. I think we’ve finally come up to the surface after being submerged for decades.”

    I would like to point out that it was Pope Benedict who opened the windows to let the air in. It is too early in the papacy of Pope Francis to tell what sort of lasting effect his choices will have for the good of mother Church.

  238. Katylamb says:

    To those who say they don’t think they’ll go to Mass anymore, or that they didn’t go to Mass until Pope Benedict: you are showing what’s really important to you and it’s not Christ in the Eucharist and it’s not the other sacraments. I suggest you examine why it is you are Catholic. There’s a name for people who leave the Church every time some little thing doesn’t suit them. It’s Protestant.

  239. Marcello says:

    iowapapist says:
    […] Based upon my observations of the man, I have reservations about proclaiming him to be truly humble. There are those who are conspicuous in their piety, but behind the facade there is in incompatibility with holiness. He appears to me to be a man who likes attention and is on a mission to prove that he is just a regular guy. In my opinion, if he was truly humble, he would accept the vestments and the liturgy appropriate to the office. Additionally, he would not degrade the office. It is the office that is exalted, not the man. Forgive me for my candor. Please also know that I am not always right. And please pray that I am wrong.

    I know this thread has gone cold but I only spotted iowapapist’s post now. He uses the word I have been grasping for, that Pope Francis is “degrading” the office because–and I think this right on the money–he confuses the exaltation of office with the man, he thinks (simplistically and stupidly) that he must establish his own bona fides as “el papa del pueblo” by bringing the office low. He doesn’t see that true humility would accept the symbols of his office and that that acceptance has no bearing on his personal humility. Blessed John Paul II performed countless acts of charity that were purely private and known only to a small circle; he didn’t need to degrade the papacy to be personally humble. Pope Francis cannot–or will not–see the distinction, and thus will cause needless confusion, scandal and wonderment because of his actions. Our Holy Father truly needs our prayers.

  240. lmo1968 says:

    These kids in a California prison were touched by Pope Francis’ celebration of Mass at Casa del Marmo yesterday. http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/03/28/letters_from_prison/en1-677778

    People who, for whatever reason, were unable to connect with the Church are doing so through this pope’s example. I agree with whoever wrote that the traditional Catholics are acting like the elder son in the Prodigal Son. These little brothers (and sisters) in jail were lost, and Pope Francis trusts us with the estate of the Church enough to leave us to run out to them. Thank God!

  241. slcath says:

    I don’t know whether washing the feet of women during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is “legal” or not under canon law. But I think opponents of the practice are making a mistake insofar as they draw a parallel between people whose feet are washed and the ordained priesthood. I see nothing in John’s Gospel (John 13) to indicate that Jesus establishes a parallel between footwashing and ordination. When he said “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me” (John 13:8), he seems to give washing a scope far beyond the the question of the ordained priesthood.

    As to washing the feet of Muslim people: if Jesus washes the feet of Judas Iscariot (cf. John 13: 10-11), I see no reason that the Pope can’t wash the feet of a Muslim.

  242. cheerios in my pocket says:

    I just emailed Fr. Z about this wonderful article in the NCR which may give some answers about Pope Francis…

    Romano Guardini seems to liturgically link Pope Emeritus with Pope Francis! Praise God always!

  243. mammamia says:

    Almost walked out of Mass last night. Priest was carrying on about PF1 washing “prisoners” feet, some of which were women, casting it as tantamount to him having just walked on water (so far, despite some unsettling nagging at my mom-instincts reservations (from the first moment he appeared on the balcony i had that instinctive “something isn’t right here” feeling, and that, coupled with  the immediate  media-framed “humility” of PF1)  has left me, similar to the trial lawyer in the above post, with a different take, and it is not humility) but despite that, I was just fine with Fr.’s portrayal of this event—-then I almost fell out of the pew, when, in a tone nearing disgust, but CLEARLY DISDAIN, Fr. said “all Benedict did was wash 12 Priests feet”. I didn’t fall out of the pew, but I sure wanted to bolt! My mind was reeling- it was the last Mass in town that evening, do I stay or do I go? I finally convinced myself to stay. 
    I shudder to think of the consequences of this blatant pitting of Pope against Pope from the Pulpit can have on the laity (versus not simply comparing and contrasting, which is fine!) as the laity is so very divided as it is, and now here is one more knife carving a deep valley between them. 

    As for the young “prisoners” (some headlines called them “detainees”, “offenders” or “inmates”) whose feet were washed by our  Holy Father, my first thought was that I hope they obliged of their own free will, and were not ordered nor bribed to participate. 
    As for Pope Francis eschewing the garments of the office, sure it bothers me. Just as going to Mass where a Priest decided to wear his favorite old golf outfit  (bad analogy I know but you get the drift) would bother me, because he is there (to me) as a Priest qua a Priest, not a golfer qua a Priest. 

    So whatever anyone thinks Pope Francis is “really up to” my only prayer is that whatever it is, it is as a Pope qua Pope, not George qua Pope.

  244. sirlouis says:

    iowapapist makes a strong case, that Francis’ humility is — I won’t say false — is mistaken. A pope who can be so unaware of what he is doing will be prone to imprudence. We are going to regret this pontificate.

  245. veritasmeister says:

    Please excuse what may be my insufficient charity on this day of all days, but I’m stunned, what else can I say?

    A special thank you to the incomparable David Werling for his incisive observations, as well as potato2. iowapapist, hate to disappoint you, but you too are quite intelligent and quite right. Jack Hughes, you should be hurt, scandalized and sorrowful. What I can say to help you is that you should take your pained reaction as a positive sign.

    Our faith should consist of tradition, both upper case T and lower case t. One wonders if there is most anything any pope could say or do that would incur true scandal here.

    What our faith does not consist of is logical positivist papal magisterialism, which seems far too prevalent around here. Imagine if Hans Kung had pulled this stunt in the past, what would you have thought and said? But when a pope now does something, whether this or female altar servers, or whatever, then our magisterialists do an abrupt about-face, feverishly seek to paste together some semblance of explanation, and rebuke most anybody raising concerns and criticisms.

    No, Fr. Z., it really does not matter what the pope is really up to. Because regardless of what that may be, this is not the way to do it, and should be cause of genuine worry. Antics like this are inexcusable, regardless of the desired ends or goals.

    People are concerned about evangelization? Well, perhaps some attention should then be directed to our Second Vatican church and the doctrinal, moral, liturgical, and spiritual aberrations that have descended upon us in the past 50 years through 5 less-than-orthodox popes. And I’m required to give the sixth one the painstaking benefit of the doubt?

    The Church evangelized the world, and it managed to do so without popes washing the feet of women and non-Catholics.

    Finally, I think it may be advisable for folks to lay off this idea of taking issue with the ‘liberals’. If you are a conservative liberal, you do not somehow cease being a liberal simply because you disagree with liberal liberals and radical liberals.

  246. Imrahil says:

    Dear @iowapapist,

    the problem with stating “if the Pope were truly humble” is that “not truly humble” is equal to “obviously proud or faking humility”. Noone wants to say this (nor did you, you wanted to say something else), nor is there any sign of it, and it is a heavy, heavy accusation which should not be brought without proof.

    The better word is “mistaken”. Pope Francis has a genuine humility. Genuine humility does not mean objectively doing all things right.

    Dear @Anchorite, I think we can trust the dear @Glen M’s intelligence that when he writes “mortal sinner”, and not “a mortal man, and, a sinner”, knowing how the former will be understood, then he means the former. Still, I can only second what the dear @Chicken wrote on this.
    And if you mean that the Pope’s action was at least objectively a sin: No, it was not.

  247. Gratias says:

    The changes so far seem to flow in one direction, the reversal of the Reform of the Reform or hermeneutic (interpretation) of continuity.

  248. Gaetano says:

    Can we send Pope Francis some “Say the Black, Do the Red” Z-swag?

  249. Evovae says:

    “Antics like this are inexcusable, regardless of the desired ends or goals.”

    The word “inexcusable” is rather harsh. Your comment displays precisely the tone that I was concerned about in an earlier comment, esp. your line: “The Church evangelized the world, and it managed to do so without popes washing the feet of women and non-Catholics.” It was a VERY different world, and that has only recently changed. I’m not saying that the church should “change with the times” or any of that Spirit of VII stuff. But it is extremely vital to pastoral concerns to note that we are living in an age of the sort the church has never before seen, what with people being inculcated from a very young age to recoil instinctively at the symbols of tradition. Consider the following sermon by Cardinal Newman: http://www.newmanreader.org/works/ninesermons/sermon9.html

    The church needs to reach people, and it’s not exactly clear what the best way to do that is. For certain, there are many people who are not reached by traditional high liturgies. That shouldn’t force a conclusion, but rather raise a question: How do we begin to bring them around so that they do see, understand, and appreciate proper liturgy. I’m sorry, but I don’t see how grousing about the pope’s “inexcusable” actions in that kind of language and tone is going to do anything but slam the door. I’m not saying the pope shouldn’t be criticized. But seriously, “inexcusable”?

  250. bposullivan says:

    While I am a liberal who would like to be able to take a victory lap, I think that, in reality, Father Z is right about what Francis is doing.

    I don’t agree, though, that “Liberals could give a damn about the gender of the person whose feet are being washed.” At least, I can tell you confidently that this isn’t true of all liberals. I’d love to think that the gesture presages a change in the Church’s view of ordination of women–but I doubt it. And nevertheless, I care that Francis is symbolically demonstrating that the considers women worthy of respect and service even in this limited and symbolic way. I think that it’s a wonderfully compassionate gesture that he did this for prisoners, and excluding women would have made it a little less compassionate. So my appreciation of the gesture isn’t based on any optimism about a change on ordination.

    I think it would be better to avoid such sweeping generalizations about “liberals” and “conservatives.” Reading certain other websites, I might be tempted to say “Conservatives only care about formalities and legalisms and could give a damn about compassion”; but your post Father Z, makes it obvious that this is not the case. Conservatives don’t all fit a caricature, and maybe liberals don’t either–right?

  251. Jack Hughes says:

    Even better Send it to Mgr Marini – he needs it more than any of use do, if someone agrees to send him Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist mug, I’ll send him the Save the Liturgy, Save the World mug and Teddy Bear

  252. BLB Oregon says:

    “I think a great deal has to do with him being a Jesuit, as you say. I have never known a Jesuit personally who gave a care about the liturgy, one way or another.”

    Yours is a common expectation. I know a Jesuit who takes very great care about the Mass, but he has mentioned that people continually express surprise about it. It’s a bit of a left-handed compliment, a little like having someone express surprise that someone from your ethnic group has such well-behaved children.

    “I agree with whoever wrote that the traditional Catholics are acting like the elder son in the Prodigal Son.”

    I’d say, rather, that we have to be aware that those who are careful about keeping the rules have to be aware that the tempter will typically try this method of temptation–that is, will tempt towards resentment and contempt towards those who don’t–just as he tempts those who do not like seeing ugly legalism about the rules to think that it is having rules at all that is at fault.

    As far as whether or not the Pope ought to conduct liturgy as he does, it can at least be said that no one who elected him can pretend to be surprised. He did not put on a false front and then show his “true colors” when he gained the papacy. So whether he was a good choice or not, those who elected him knew very well who they were choosing. Keep in mind, there was no “ideal man” in the Sistine Chapel for them to choose. There were the men actually there, and they know each other as we do not and cannot. They knew they could not elect this aspect of Bergoglio, this aspect of Ouletee, this aspect of Scola, and so on. They had to elect one exact man, just as Our Lord had to choose one exact man, as he was. So before we start saying that Pope Francis is not the right man, consider that the man some of us would have wanted was not available for election!

    I think that the Lord provided someone He can work with and work through, one of many who would have been an excellent choice. I believe the hand of the Holy Spirit is on him. Let us give thanks that we live in times that give so many versions of excellence as choices, whether or not the cardinals chose the exact man we think we would have liked!

    Let us also not forget the Holy Father’s most constant request, either: Pray for him, pray for him, pray for him!!

  253. catholicmidwest says:

    bposullivan, you said, ” Conservatives don’t all fit a caricature, and maybe liberals don’t either–right?”

    Actually, I believe that most liberals do fit a caricature and so do most conservatives. That’s what they use to categorize themselves after all. :D Otherwise how would they ever know which camp to jump into confident that they won’t be bounced back out on their ears?

    However, most people make a gigantic mistake about their own profundity, overestimating it by many degrees of magnitude. The fact is that the CHURCH doesn’t fit either caricature. That’s the issue. And neither extreme seems constitutionally incapable of comprehending that as long as they’re paying attention to their own interests. (And I’m being kind by using the word interests instead of other words that may come closer to the truth.)

    Meanwhile, the Church in both Europe and the United States is in a state of demographic collapse. And no one seems to be noticing because they’re going to fight their liturgical wars to the end, by golly, come hell or high water. It’s fascinating to watch. Seriously.

  254. tnconvert says:

    I instruct in RCIA, and had with care explained that the 12 people to have their feet washed were to be men, and made the correlation of the apostles for my class. 12 men had been asked to participate in the liturgy. Imagine my surprise, and the confusion of my class, when our priest asked that 2 men be removed and we find 2 women to participate because ” the Pope did it”. This is why I am concerned. How to console ourselves? The Church has existed since Christ’s ascension over 2000 years ago, and she has survived all sorts of popes. The Holy Spirit preserves her. This is my mantra right now…

  255. catholicmidwest says:

    Typo: And neither extreme seems constitutionally CAPABLE of comprehending that as long as they’re paying attention to their own interests.

    I wish that what I had originally typed was the true state of affairs, but unfortunately it is not. Many people are completely absorbed in these border skirmishes and probably will be until the racket of the big demographic crash comes down around their ears.

  256. netokor says:

    Katy, I’ve never heard anyone who attends the Latin Mass say that the NO Mass was not valid. I attended the NO for decades, because I wanted to receive the Holy Eucharist. When the Latin Mass appeared, I ran to it. The NO Mass hosted many abuses and scandals, but I had no choice. As long as the Latin Mass is offered, I will be very grateful. But if it were not–well, we still have to go to Mass. I hope this Pope will support the Latin Mass as charitably as my dear Papa Benedicto has done.

  257. mamajen says:

    This is marginally on topic, if at all, but has anyone noted the newer, fancier version of Pope Francis’ coat of arms?


    Give him time.

  258. James0235 says:

    asperges says:
    A faithful Catholic does not criticise the Holy Father.

    You can’t really mean that, can you? That is probably the most nonsensical things I have read in these comments.


  259. poohbear says:

    Several thoughts here:
    First, thank you to those who personally addressed my concerns! Your thoughtful comments have boosted by spirit and given me a renewed hope. I won’t mention names because I might forget someone, but you (and God) know who you are. Thank you!

    Second, the comments by people who name call in a subtle, hinted at, way are not helpful. You may want to practice the charity you accuse others of not having. Have you thought that people are upset not because they enjoy being uncharitable, but because they love our Church and don’t want to see anything happen to her. Calling people Protestant is in itself uncharitable. Not everyone has the same strength in their faith and many people’s faith is fragile. That doesn’t mean its not there, just that its more sensitive to disruptions. Didn’t someone in scripture say “I believe, help my unbelief”? By insulting people and telling them their feelings are not allowed, you are not helping them.

    SGCOLC says:
    29 March 2013 at 9:09 am
    Many of the comments here are, I think, making unfair assumptions about good liturgically-minded priests, as if, because Pope Francis washed the feet of girls in his Holy Thursday Mass, suddenly priests all around the world are going to follow his example and start washing women’s feet!

    No, what we are afraid of is that the priests who have already been doing things a little flaky will get even bolder and flaunt more and more rules, and the good priests will be bashed even more than than already are.

    CatholicByChoice says:
    29 March 2013 at 7:57 am
    And it is Obedience that begins to open the door to Humility.

    So we are to be obedient but our Pope is not? How does that mesh with your statement? As Pope, if he doesn’t like a rule he can change it, but to disregard it without changing it is to be not obedient.

    Nan says:
    28 March 2013 at 11:18 pm
    If the Pope doesn’t follow Church teaching, then what the hell is he good for? Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles. Not random people who weren’t his followers. Not women. I don’t know if I’ll go to Mass again.

    Oh, Nan, I can certainly understand this feeling, but this is not the answer. We must continue to go to Mass and pray even harder. If your parish has priests that don’t follow the rules then search out one that does. I know its not always easy to do, but we must not let this uncertainty pull us away from Jesus.
    I know this thread is long, but if you are still reading Nan, try to go back and look for the posts addressed to my concerns, they offer great reasons why we must not leave and offer hope in this otherwise confusing time.

  260. Genesispete says:

    I think that it was hard for people, who lived at the time, to figure out what Jesus was up to when he walked the earth. I’m confused by some of what is going on now it but so were the apostles back then at the passion. I have to have Faith in the Holy Spirit. Mortal man will call it what they want it to be, but in the end God calls the shots. Remember Pius IX who had a reputation as being more liberal when he got elected but once he got burned he ended up being the Pope that Papal Infallibility was recognized under. John XXIII on the other hand seemed like a nice old man who was going to be a “holdover” pope and too old to do anything new – then we got Vatican II. We shall see what we shall see. We have to trust in the Holy Spirit, if not, then who is there to trust?

  261. donato2 says:


    La Stampa’s “Vatican Insider” has published an article about this contretemps. This is good. This is the first criticism that has surfaced within the Church of the new pontificate. It is not enough to cry in our beer on Fr. Z’s website. We must make our voice heard in the Vatican. We are after all at the spiritual center of the Church. This is a plea to all the laity, priests and bishops who are upset: speak up! Make sure the Vatican knows what our worries and concerns are. Pope Francis says he wants to build bridges. It is important that we let him know that we want him to build one to us.

  262. donato2 says:

    Interestingly, the La Stampa piece reports that Fr. Lombardi offered a defense of the Pope’s action:

    “Then Pope Francis made his humble gesture. Speaking to Associated Press, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi explained that “in a “grand solemn celebration” of the rite, it would make sense to only involve men because during the Last Supper, Christ washed the feet of the 12 apostles, all of whom were male. But in the case of Casal del Marmo “the rite was for a small, unique community made up also of women. It was a specific situation in which excluding the girls would have been inopportune in light of the simple aim of communicating a message of love to all in a group that certainly didn’t include refined experts in liturgical rules.”

    Not very persuasive but still it is good that at least some concern for the law has been shown.

  263. CrimsonCatholic says:

    The comments here are very disheartening. (Might I add the liberals and the folks over at Fishwrap are loving it).

    Recall that there has been liturgical dance at most world youth days under Pope Emeritus and Blessed JPII. Instead of spending time writing negative comments, perhaps many should turn to prayer. Remember, Christ is the head of the church.

  264. jhayes says:

    The Pope can do things on his own initiative that others would have to ask permission from Rome to do:

    “Good Friday is the second of four intensive days in the Christian calendar culminating in Easter Sunday, which commemorates Christ’s resurrection.

    Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the Pope had shortened some of the lengthy Easter ceremonies as part of his “desire for simplicity”.


  265. bposullivan says:

    And the last paragraph of the Vatican’s explanation tends, I think, to support Father Z’s argument (if I may paraphrase) that the pope is trying to focus not on intramural disputes but on compassion:

    “That the Holy Father, Francis, washed the feet of young men and women on his first Holy Thursday as Pope, should call our minds and hearts to the simple and spontaneous gesture of love, affection, forgiveness and mercy of the Bishop of Rome, more than to legalistic, liturgical or canonical discussions.” ( http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/explanatory-note-on-pope-francis-washing-the-feet-of-two-young-women-in-the-roman-juvenile-detention )

  266. catholicmidwest says:

    As you will see, I hope, he’s not focusing on the human emotion of compassion, which any agnostic can muster up at a moment’s notice. Rather, he’s giving us an example of compassion as an example of the life of Christ. He’s preaching the life of Christ to people, the Gospel. Don’t miss the point, the meaning, and the consequences because of whatever political or ideological blinders you might be wearing.

  267. Rob22 says:

    This was a tremendous outreach to women in the church and beyond.

    I listen to America’s Morning News and the male host was enthusiastic. He is a conservative Catholic. He complained that when his daughter wanted to be an altar girl that Arlington and one other US diocese refused to follow Pope JP2’s direction on this. So she was out in the cold. He lives in Arlington.

    He went on as to how women religious who have done so much for the church have been marginalized. And treated poorly (think LWRC investigation).

    His hope and expectation is that this will all change now.

    The people at ground level seem to be reacting positively so far to the early signs and changes.

    I think we could well see female deacons under Francis. The priesthood is another thing. Re-union with the East would require they re-evaluate the practice. And in the East there are calls for reform on this.

  268. catholicmidwest says:

    You’re still playing politics and trying to put the pope in a box. You can’t summarize somebody up on the basis of your perceptions of a couple of things and dispense with him like he was a thing. Stop it.

  269. Katylamb says:

    netokor, in an earlier comment a woman said she is thinking of stopping going to Mass. A man said later that after the Mass changed in the sixties it got so bad he stopped going until he saw Pope Benedict at Mass on TV or something, and then he came back to Mass. That is what I was talking about. I love a beautiful Mass as well as anyone. But to talk about leaving the Church for such a reason? No. Someone has their priorities all wrong.

  270. Jack Hughes says:

    Can I ask these questions of bposullivan

    Why is simplicity in the liturgy a virtue? Why is dumbing down the reverence and beauty of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass something that should be encouraged? Why is spontaneity superior to sticking to canonical and liturgical norms that have developed over centuries ?

    How do you define Compassion? Would it not have been better for the Holy Father to show compassion to the pilgrims who had made many sacrifices to be in Rome over Easter and to have washed the feet of his Priests rather than criminals?

  271. ~Father Cantalamessa’s Good Friday Homily excerpt.~
    “We must do everything possible so that the Church may never look like that complicated and cluttered castle described by Kafka, and the message may come out of it as free and joyous as when the Messenger began his run. We know what the impediments are that can restrain the messenger: dividing walls, starting with those that separate the various Christian churches from one another, the excess of bureaucracy*, the residue of past ceremonials*, laws* and disputes, now only debris.*

    In Revelation, Jesus says that He stands at the door and knocks (Rev 3:20). Sometimes, as noted by our Pope Francis, he does not knock to enter, but knocks from within to go out. To reach out to the “existential suburbs of sin, suffering, injustice, religious ignorance and indifference, and of all forms of misery.”

    As happens with certain old buildings. Over the centuries, to adapt to the needs of the moment, they become filled with partitions, staircases, rooms and closets. The time comes when we realize that all these adjustments no longer meet the current needs, but rather are an obstacle, so we must have the courage to knock them down and return the building to the simplicity and linearity of its origins. This was the mission that was received one day by a man who prayed before the Crucifix of San Damiano: “Go, Francis, and repair my Church”.

    “Who could ever be up to this task?” wondered aghast the Apostle before the superhuman task of being in the world “the fragrance of Christ”; and here is his reply, that still applies today: “We’re not ourselves able to think something as if it came from us; our ability comes from God. He has made us to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; because the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”(2 Cor 2:16; 3:5-6).—-excerpt from a translation of the homily that the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, gave during the celebration of the Passion of the Lord today in St. Peter’s Basilica,before Pope Francis.


  272. Lucas Whittaker says:

    You said:
    “I might be tempted to say ‘Conservatives only care about formalities and legalisms and could give a damn about compassion.'”

    As I quoted him elsewhere on this blog, Pope Benedict wisely pointed out that “Law is the condition of love.” The Psalmist says in Psalm 119, “Your precepts fill me with delight because I love them … This is my practice: I obey your commandmnts … Those who love your law have great peace; they encounter no stunbling blocks” (verses 47, 56, 165). It is true that the Psalmist is referring to the public revelation of sacred scripture, but the Code of Canon Law exists in large part to form the community of the faithful into a harmonious whole where all of the “parts” [members] work together in a symphony of fruitful participation for the good of every human person. To stray from the benefit that Church law has to offer from the standpoint of thousands of years of concern for man is simply put, and as the Psalmist points out, a stumbling block. Love must be rightly ordered to become effective, and to believe that one person has a farther-reaching vision of how to love in the best way than the Catholic Church and the guiding hand of her laws does is a mistake.

    The Church exists to guide man toward eternal life with God, not to bind your hands and feet and to make loving compassion impossible, but to free us from the constraints of selfishness and an emotionalism that turn love into an empty shell to be filled in a merely arbitrary way (cf. Caritas In Veritate). Stay close to the Church and her Magisterium if you want to steer clear of this fatal mistake.

    These are only some of the reasons that many people are “concerned” about what il Papa is doing, though I still see patience as the best ally to have in the face of the sweeping historical changes to which we have all become witnesses.

  273. Dave N. says:

    Sea change. I think the Pope is fully aware of what he is doing.

    I think it’s very inaccurate to say that Jesuits don’t care about liturgy–but they do tend to think of liturgy in a VERY different way–e.g., see the work of Jake Empereur, S.J.

  274. boxerpaws1952 says:

    since one of the big dust ups here is the washing of the feet(and not the other scandals that have damaged the Church)i thought i would take a close look at this tradition.It’s not a sacrament is it? I wasn’t sure after all the attacks.
    This is what i came up with:

    And before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that His hour hath come, that He may remove out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own who are in the world—to the end He loved them. And supper being come, the devil already having put it into the heart of Judas of Simon, Iscariot, that he may deliver Him up, Jesus, knowing that all things the Father hath given to Him—into His hands—and that from God He came forth, and unto God He goeth, doth rise from the supper, and doth lay down his garments, and having taken a towel, he girded himself; afterward he putteth water into the basin, and began to wash the feet of his disciples, and to wipe with the towel with which he was being girded. He cometh, therefore, unto Simon Peter, and that one saith to him, “Sir, thou—dost Thou wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “That which I do thou hast not known now, but thou shalt know after these things;” Peter saith to him, “Thou mayest not wash my feet—to the age.” Jesus answered him, “If I may not wash thee, thou hast no part with me.” Simon Peter saith to him, “Sir, not my feet only, but also the hands and the head.” Jesus saith to him, “He who hath been bathed hath no need, save to wash his feet, for he is clean altogether; and ye are clean, but not all;” for He knew him who is delivering him up; because of this He said, “Ye are not all clean.” When, therefore, He washed their feet, and took His garments, having reclined at meat again, He said to them, “Do ye know what I have done to you? Ye call me, ‘The Teacher’ and ‘The Lord’, and ye say well, for I am; if then I did wash your feet—the Lord and the Teacher—ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given thee an example, that ye should do as I have done to ye. Verily, verily, I say unto ye, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”

    Jesus demonstrates the custom of the time when he comments on the lack of hospitality in one Pharisees home by not providing water to wash his feet:

    Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair” – Luke 7:44

    Let me be very honest with everyone. The reason i left the Church(the Mass was traditional and definitely in Latin)was PRIDE. I kept looking around at everyone else and not keeping a close eye on my own holiness. I was as innocent as a lamb,attending the Mass before the changes, receiving communion. By the time the Church got to the NO i was only going through the motions and having realized that went out the door.PLS smell the coffee. You have no idea how low PRIDE can end up taking you. I’m not sensing any charity at all in a lot of the comments. Sorry. I am probably wrong,but being honest.
    I’m not saying Pope Francis is above criticism but i’ve heard every thing-little and large-being picked at. He did not run for the Petrine Ministry.He did not seek it. He was elected. Perhaps he did not want to take the office but i’m going to guess that His Holiness Benedict and Blessed John Paul were also reluctant. It was His Holiness Benedict who wanted to retire when Blessed John Paul II asked him to stay on as i understand it. Maybe Pope Francis didn’t want to take on the office but like his predecessors answered God’s call.

  275. boxerpaws1952 says:

    Forget these terms liberal and conservative .They belong in politics. We are in a battle of good vs evil. I think Pope Francis is very aware of it.

  276. Robbie says:

    Yes, why is simplicity in the Liturgy a virtue? Even St Francis believed we should worship God in the highest form. If we follow the simplistic Liturgy to its natural conclusion, should priests even wear vestments; should music be played and sung; should the Mass just be a quiet, solemn and personal reflection?

    This has been an unsettling time for those who see themselves as traditionalists. My hope is a year from now these conversations will have been forgotten and we’ll notice little in the differences between Benedict’s and Francis’ Liturgy. That’s just a hope though.

  277. boxerpaws1952 says:

    “If the Pope doesn’t follow Church teaching, then what the hell is he good for? Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles. Not random people who weren’t his followers. Not women. I don’t know if I’ll go to Mass again.” Was Judas a follower? You’re not going to Mass?
    Did Catholics during the Borgia papacy stop attending Mass? Fly out the door? Is there any comparison between the Borgia papacy and Pope Francis? What about some of the other less than stellar popes? Any comparison? IF you see one point it out. They didn’t just change rules; from what i have read they were immoral.These were more than just mistakes.I still don’t think people quit attending Mass or bolting out the door. You don’t have to be faithful to Pope Francis (only obey him in matters re faith and morals when he speaks infallibly)but we do have to be faithful to Christ. Nuff said.

  278. Katylamb says:

    “Calling people Protestant is in itself uncharitable.”

    The only people I called Protestant are people who leave the Church because it doesn’t suit them. And that is what they are. It is not uncharitable to say so, either.

  279. bposullivan says:

    “Why is simplicity in the liturgy a virtue? Why is dumbing down the reverence and beauty of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass something that should be encouraged? Why is spontaneity superior to sticking to canonical and liturgical norms that have developed over centuries ? ”

    I don’t know that simplicity is universally a virtue, but it can be elegant and beautiful in its own right, and for some of the people some of the time, a lot of pomp and circumstance distracts from the underlying meaning. I thought the spokesman’s point was that simplicity and “spontaneity” (or, maybe “directness” would have been a better word, but I was just quoting the Vatican spokesman) were appropriate for this particular audience of young people who needed to hear plainly that they were loved and who weren’t learned in the meaning of the rituals.

    “How do you define Compassion? ”
    I guess a dictionary definition will do: “Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.”

    “Would it not have been better for the Holy Father to show compassion to the pilgrims who had made many sacrifices to be in Rome over Easter and to have washed the feet of his Priests rather than criminals?”

    No, I think it was more compassionate to go out to the lost and forsaken for this one mass, especially knowing that other lost and forsaken people around the world would hear about his concern for people like them. The pilgrims and priests had done more to earn the pope’s attention, but I guess compassion goes where it is needed, not necessarily where it has been “earned.”

    Hopefully the pilgrims and priests have had or will have other chances to see the pope. Earlier on Thursday, he met with Roman priests for lunch, and before that, he said the Chrism mass. And before that, since being elected, he’d already said masses for Vatican workers, the Cardinals, and the general public. The already-faithful are interested in what the pope has to say and will make an effort to seek him out, whether in person or through the media. I think the pope sees it as a big part of his job to seek out those who are not yet faithful, but who are suffering and in need.

  280. Nicandro says:

    ** Looks like I got moderated** Read the Catholic Herald piece please on heraldry and the changes before deciding I am an idiot. Five pointed stars are military symbols loved by the Peopl’s Popular Front of Judea etc. Not good. Regards your little “Parade ground” fear of banan skins, I’m off to the pictures or maybe learning the piano – as the Monty Python Parade ground Seargeant would have approved of. Maybe I’ll go and see the Little World of Don Camillo. Now that was powerful stuff! Very relevant. Dr N. Porcelli

  281. Jack Hughes says:

    Ok osullivan

    He could have met the prisoners at any time of the year, after all their not going anywhere, the pilgrims were making what could be a once in a lifetime trip for the Easter Triduem (big expense involved), especially since they probably didn’t have an inkling about the meaning of the ritual.

    Is it compassionate to say screw you to those who have sacrificed time, money, holiday allowence for a group of offenders who won’t understand what you have done?

    Dumbing down the liturgy was the worst thing that the Church (post v2) did, we did away with beautiful vestments, sacred music and the reverence for Christ in the Liturgy and the Blessed Sacrament (all in the name of simplicity) and look where it got us: the few people who still go to Mass are likely to dissent from Church teachings, churches closing due to lack of vocations and parishioners, traitor catholic politicians need I go on?

    Now that I understand the beauty and reason behind the rubrics of the Old Mass I only go to the NO when I must.

  282. Ralph says:

    I would have to say that, as of Thursday, any chance of a reunion with the SSPX is pretty much gone.

    I feel crushed. I can only imagine what you faithful and orthodox priests must feel.

    I have tried to be positive. I have tried to “hold the line”. But I am weary and I am sad.

    I will pray for you all and, of course, the pope and the Church.

  283. pseudomodo says:

    Haiku de Francis

    “The Holy Father,
    in a break from tradition…”
    makes me just shudder…

    I am now afraid to flip on the daily news for fear of hearing that phrase. It seems to be happening on a daily basis.

  284. Once more I go where angels fear to tread!

    An interesting post but I don’t have the time or the patience to read all the posts but I have some comments on this present controversy (by the way Jimmy Akin has a good post on this issue – I rely on his comments to some extent) :

    1. I checked Fortesque-O’Connell’s Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described and the Mandatum is not mentioned in the 1951 edition but is in the 1958 – the Mandatum was introduced to the Liturgy of Holy Thursday in 1955 as an option which it remains. I checked Jungman, Dix and a few others but could find not one mention of the Mandatum. Since this rite was introduced in 1955 it hardly qualifies as ‘Tradition’.

    2. There was once a principle that no one could judge the Pope but God alone. Since the Holy Father is the Supreme Legislator of the Church he can dispense himself especially in the performance of an optional rite in the unusual pastoral setting of a Juvenile Prison. (I would suggest the ban on video and photos was as much a decision of the Prison Authorities as of the Vatican).

    3. Since there is nothing in this rite that relates it to ordination but rather to the commission to serve one anther then the inclusion of women, even non-Christians, is a non-issue. The rubric says ‘men’ but see no. 2 above. Imagine though, no leader, political or religious, especially no imam, has ever washed the foot of a Muslim woman. This is the kind of radical act the original Francis would have done after all he embraced and cared for lepers, walked across a carpet of crosses to evangelise the Sultan and preached in his underwear (at least according to the Fioretti, ch. 30)!

    4. I disagree that being a Jesuit is shaping his attitude to Liturgy. The Jesuits are a big order with many provinces and it is a mistake to paint with a broad brush. Religious life shapes a person but he remains himself. Neither do I accept that his attitude is one of a ‘pox on both your houses’. (I am not happy with such a phrase being associated with the Holy Father. Rather I would suggest, and here we agree somewhat, that the Holy Father is pointing in the direction not just of compassion ( a much abused concept) but of active and real love towards our neighbour, what was once called ‘charity’ before that word was degraded. In this the Holy Father is again a son of St. Francis, of Ignatius and all the saints and above all a follower of our Lord. We will be measured in love and Francis has used the liturgy of Holy Thursday evening to put that into practice. I put it to you that he is taking ‘praxis’ away from the Liberation theologians and restoring it to the Church and making it again a vehicle of love.

    5. Pope Benedict was right in saying that the Holy Spirit does not pick the pope but agrees to work with whomever the cardinals choose. Pope Francis has a reputation among those who know him for being orthodox and genuinely holy. I think we should trust the Holy Spirit and those who know our new Holy Father.

    6. Those who bemoan the Holy Father’s decisions and actions should read some Church history. Even the best and the greatest got some things wrong. After all wasn’t in during the reign of Pius XII that the Mandatum made its appearance?

    7. Another advantage of reading Church history (I am presently reading my way through Daniel-Rops multi-volume work) is perspective. If the ‘reform of the reform’ or the ‘restoration of the Liturgy to what it was in 195X’ is from God then it will occur at some point. If it is not it will fail. What the present Holy Father seems to be saying to me as a priest and a religious is ‘be a true follower and servant of Christ, truly live the Gospel, and seek to do His will in union with the Church and the Holy Father.’

  285. ocalatrad says:

    Frankly, I don’t agree with the approach. We must first sanctity and arm with faith those Catholics who are true to the Church. Then, unleash them in the world as priests and laity. “For their sakes do I sanctity myself”. There appears to be far too much concern about howthe Church is perceived than what the Church really is. Most of contemporary man’s perceptions of the Church are grounded in profound ignorance.

  286. RobertK says:

    I could really care less anymore. Just celebrated Good Friday at a local Byzantine Catholic Church. Where they abide by traditions, and not change them on a whim like the main stream Roman church does causing mass confusion.