Francis orders change to Foot Washing Rite on Holy Thursday to include females

UPDATE 22 Jan: See the updates at the bottom.

___ ORIGINAL Published on: Jan 21, 2016 @ 10:42 ___

Today brought the news that the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) was ordered by Pope Francis to issue a document that allows for the washing of the feet of females on Holy Thursday in the optional foot washing rite during the Mass of the Last Supper in the Ordinary Form.

A letter from Francis to Card. Sarah, the CDW Prefect, dated 20 December 2014 but only posted today (21 Jan 2016) via the Bolletino notes that Francis had discussed this with Sarah previously. Francis is trying to “improve” (migliorare) the rites so that they express fully the meaning of Christ’s gesture in the Upper Room. Then Francis seems to lock into a certain interpretation of that gesture: “his self-gift ‘unto the end’ for the salvation of the world, his charity without boundaries”. Francis mentions nothing of the relationship of Christ with His Apostles. Francis then commands that there be a change in the rubrics of the Roman Missal, saying “sono giunto alla deliberazione … I have reached the decision…”.

This has been brewing for over a year.

In Card. Sarah’s Decree we read that “it seemed good to the Supreme Pontiff Francis to change the norm”. Thus, now: Missalis Romani (p. 300 n. 11) legitur: «Viri selecti deducuntur a ministris…», quae idcirco sequenti modo mutari debet: «Qui selecti sunt ex populo Dei deducuntur a ministris…» (et consequenter in Caeremoniali Episcoporum n. 301 et n. 299 b: «sedes pro designatis»).

I note, however, that – in the Missale Romanum – the group from which people might be selected is restricted to “Populus Dei… the People of God”, which means, I think, at least Christians.   The Caerimoniale has different language.

So, the rubric changes from “viri selecti… chosen males” to “qui selecti sunt… those who were chosen”.

This unprecedented innovation will be in effect for the Ordinary Form this coming Triduum.


First, in the Ordinary Form the footwashing rite or “Mandatum” is optional. It need not be done at all. Neither can any bishop or priest be constrained to do it. Fathers, you can simply drop it.  If you are being pressured to add women or girls to those chosen, don’t do the rite.

Second, this does not apply to the Extraordinary Form. Fathers. Think about it. ¡Hagan lío!

Third, just as in the cases of Communion in the hand and the use of altar girls, both of which were legalized after years of blatant disobedience to the law, this move by Pope Francis could be interpreted to mean that liturgical norms mean very little and, worse, that liturgy means very little.  Thus, we move deeper into a brave new antinomian world.  I suspect, however, that if you were to choose to make it up as you go (disobey) in the traditional direction rather than in the innovative direction, the world would be brought down on your head.

Fourth, see number two, above.

The moderation queue is ON.   Please keep the spittle-flecked nutties to yourselves.  I have enough of that in my email.  Thanks in advance.


His Excellency Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison (where I am), stated (HERE) the following:

“I accept this change with loving obedience, as I always would,” Morlino said of the pope’s decision.

Local priests are now free to include women, Morlino said. But they can also still opt to skip the ritual altogether — it has always been optional — or “follow the traditional practice” of washing only male feet, which recalls Jesus having done so for his 12 male apostles, he said.

In a diocese where many progressive Catholics had found the male-only rule disagreeable, Morlino added that he hoped people will avoid “pressure tactics” and allow priests to make “good and prudential” decisions as to how they want to proceed.

“It is my hope that in their outstanding care for the people entrusted to them, the priests will engage serious prayer and reflection in coming to their choice of option,” Morlino said.

I provide this because I, too, am quoted in that article.   The writer, predictably, tried to set my view against that of the local bishop.  Fine.  We’ve seen this game before.

I freely admit that I don’t like this decision from Pope Francis, for the reasons I stated above.  That said, I do not deny the juridical authority of the Supreme Pontiff to change liturgical law, good idea or not.  Also, I will not now say that priests who make the decision in the future to include females in the wholly optional Mandatum are violating the law.  I won’t think it is a good idea, but they won’t – now – be violating the law. That doesn’t change the fact that, if they did it in the past, they were then blatantly violating the law.

His Excellency Bp. Morlino has the heavy mandate of guiding a diocese in charity according to the laws of the Church and in unity with the Successor of Peter.  His desire to act always in harmony with the liturgical law is edifying.  He did not ignore or violate liturgical law before this decision and he is not going to ignore or violate liturgical law now.  He is admirably consistent in this matter as in other liturgical matters.  Also, note well that his remarks reveal the respect that he has for the freedom of priests to make their choices within the bounds of the law.  Again, admirably consistent.

UPDATE 22 Jan:

My friend Fr. Ray Blake has the following:

I apologise of all the faithful and beseech their prayers who in my misconceived arrogance have been excluded by my legalism.
I apologise in particular to those ladies who would have liked to have had their feet washed at the Mandatum on Holy Thursday and were excluded by my rigourism.
I apologise, you were right and I was wrong.
I apologise for teaching that this Rite was about Christ washing the feet of those twelve chosen to be Apostles rather than seeing it as a Rite that expressed Christ’s care for the world and for sinners and for the poor. I apologise for suggesting that this Rite was about Christ’s priesthood and the Apostles participation in it, I apologise for suggesting that this Rite was in any sense hieratic. I apologise for quoting the Pope Emeritus, and the schismatic Patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow in a sermon about this Rite. They were obviously misunderstood by me or were dealing with their own local situation. I was wrong, I was also mistaken. I humbly ask anyone who has been misinformed by me to in future to disregard any teaching I might have given at any time, and especially if I have claimed that it was the Church’s teaching.
I apologise too to the poor, I apologise to those my brother clergy who chose to ignore the written Law of the Church but nevertheless had the spiritual insight to understand the Spirit of the Law.
I have indeed been a Neo-Pelagian Promethean and I humbly promise in future to follow custom rather than any directives coming from the Holy See or printed in the Missal. I will indeed do my best to not to teach  but to set people free to follow their own lights and inspiration.
I am humbly grateful for this change in the Church’s law, though because of the increasing stiffness in my knees for the last few years I have been unable to wash the feet of anyone.

One of the comments under his post was especially interesting…

Pétrus said…
Father, if you want to hold to the spirit of the Holy Father (and follow his own personal example) you should ignore the new communication from the CDW.

Following it would be nothing other than legalism.

Read the whole thing there.

UPDATE 22 Jan:

There is a good post from Joseph Shaw of the Latin Mass Society in England.  HERE

The Mandatum: let’s not be hard on Pope Francis

It is tempting to see the decree allowing women’s feet to be washed on Maundy Thursday as an indication of an acceleration of liturgical decay underway with Pope Francis, following his breaking of the rule up to now. However, what has happened is no different from what happened under his predecessors.

[… He gives examples from Pope Francis’ predecessors…]

Let’s not get on a high horse about Pope Francis at this juncture. This is just another step, and not a particularly large one, in the development of the Ordinary Form away from Tradition, and it is not happening because of the personality of the Pope. It is happening because the Novus Ordo Missae of 1970 was unstable. It included a series of compromises which were never going to last. Given the direction of pressure, these compromises were always going to unravel the same way.

This is the real lesson to be learned. Attempting to shore up the totering edifice of the Novus Ordo with ferocious-sounding rules has failed. JPII and Pope Benedict didn’t manage it, and obviously – obviously – Pope Francis, though not a liturgical ‘meddler’, is not going to succeed in a project in which he has no interest. If it is collapsing, it is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. DavidJ says:

    I get the symbolism of the “just men” restriction of the way it’s been done until recently. I get the symbolism of the “God’s people” way that’s now permitted. I’m glad that this has been officially rather than the implied winks and nods of the past…if this is the change desired, then let it be done so that pastors are not breaking the written rules and that everyone is playing from the same handbook, rather than those adhering to the rules being accused of legalism for simply doing what is required of them.

    In the grand scheme of things, I could take or leave this. This is not a hill I’ll die on. There are many other hills which, in my mind, have a more pressing need.

  2. Rich says:

    At least Francis’ change will provide the opportunity to ask those who insisted all along up until now that it were alright to include females in the foot washing ceremony why such a change would be necessary.

  3. mburn16 says:

    Though not a fan, I suspect Francis is simply formalizing the interpretation of this rite that most people assume to be the norm. I can’t say that I see many Catholics who closely associate the ritual with ordained ministry.

  4. Two thoughts;
    1) At least the pope sets an ordinance and follows it versus ignoring his own liturgical law and by example encouraging others to go with their own liturgical whims. [But… no… what he did last year would not jiv with the change he just made. He included non-Christians last year. The new norms says they are to be members of the “People of God”, which I think means “Christian”.]
    2) But more concerning…. what will the next liturgical change from this pontificate look like …..

  5. Jean-Luc says:

    Does that mean we shall see priests kissing young women’s bare feet ?

  6. RobertK says:

    Hopefully his wishes will be ignored by traditionalists. Just like Pope Benedict’s XVI liturgical wishes were ignored by moderates and liberals.

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    As a woman, I say, “Ugh.”

    As a reader of Scripture, I am distressed that the Pope is calling us to understand the Bible less deeply, and to ignore the literal sense of Jesus’ reference to Moses making Aaron and his sons priests, at the very moment when He was making His Apostles priests.

    As a Catholic, I roll my eyes. I suppose it’s an act of mercy to all the renegades who’ve been breaking the Church’s law for years, because you can’t abuse Holy Thursday by an action that’s permitted. But probably they will find something else impermissible, and do that.


  8. Lavrans says:

    My wife has already said she has no time or desire to see women’s feet washed in a rite which, prior to right now, had always been connected to Apostolic Succession and the [male – it should not be necessary to note] priesthood. She gets it. That’s why she is awesome. She also despises altar girls/ladies of the altar too. Again, awesome.

    So we’ll choose one of two options on Maundy Thursday if our priest decides to feminize things:
    1. Attend EF Mass at the local FSSP parish
    2. Head to the restroom during ladies night at the footwashers

  9. pmullane says:

    I agree with Ed Peters when he commented on facebook that it is a good thing that this issue has ben settled and we dont go though the farce of the Pope going against his own liturgical law. However that it has been settled with this decision makes me sad for two reasons:

    Firstly because there is a beauty and depth of the person of christ, in the priest, washing the feet of those men who he chose to act in his person, to be his body and to celebrate the sacrifice of his death, and indeed to sacrifice themselves for him. Indeed I liked the idea of the bishop washing the feet of his priests at the chrism Mass. That seemed fitting to me. That a priest washes the feet of some people from the parish because of ‘service’ doesnt carry that same depth to me.

    Secondly, its a dreadful idea to change a law because people are breaking a law already. The rights and wrongs of his particular situation aside, the only fruits of indulging disobedience is further disobedience. At some point the Pope will want these people to be obedient to him, and he will find that they pay him no attention, because he himself rewarded their disobedience in this issue by giving them their way. One thing the Church doesnt need more of is emboldended dissenters, or powerless Popes whose line of credit in the bank of authority has run dry.

  10. JesusFreak84 says:

    I wonder if Cardinal Sarah was cringing at the order… Thankfully, the foot-washing is also completely missing from the Byzantine rites. Holy Thursday and Good Friday in the East are…unique experiences; hard to explain beyond that.

  11. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    There was something -was it in Edersheim? – about the priests of the Mosaic Covenant serving barefoot and washing their feet before entering the holy precints of the Temple and engaging in sacrifice. And was there something else about not all of the levitical priests not serving in the Temple and making sacrifice, although all the priests might each the sacrifice? Perhaps you, Father, or one of your learned readers could conjecture as to whether Our Saviour was, in the washing of the feet of his chosen apostles, fulfilling that type found in the Old Testament of a divided priesthood, where some make sacrifice and all eat the sacrifice, requiring some to be made holy for service in the temple of His Body, as shown by the washing of their feet.

    If it were so, would we fail to follow the example of Our Lord in washing the feet of those not so ordered to the ministerial priesthood, or who even, by the mystery of their gender, will never have a nature that would allow such a ordering to the ministerial priesthood?

  12. zama202 says:

    Perhaps this is Francis’ way of assisting the growth of Summorum Pontificum?


  13. Deo volente says:

    Thanks for your explanation, Father! I wished to know precisely what the change read and you have included it your post. Also, the fact that this does not apply to the Extraordinary Form will make my choice of Mass on Holy Thursday a non-issue. ¡Hagan lío!

  14. Saor Alba says:

    This doesn’t make sense in my view. If the individuals are supposed to represent the Apostles then they should be men. If they are not supposed to represent the Apostles, then why specify they are twelve in number? [Good question.]

  15. plaf26 says:

    Look on the bright side–at least this will expose all those priests with foot fetishes!

  16. pitkiwi says:

    Also important to point out is that no priest is required to choose women for the Mandatum. While this certainly increases the number of “options” in the Novus Ordo, this by no means requires the ritual to include women.

    That being said, I can easily foresee diocesan liturgical offices requiring parishes to include “men and women, boys and girls” when the rite is chosen.

    While I feel that I at least understand the Holy Father’s motivations behind this move, I don’t believe that now is the time for additional flexibility with the rubrics, especially laxed permissions to conform with decades of flat-out disobedience.

  17. thomas jd says:

    Chicago has been following that practice for a few years now.

  18. TNCath says:

    I find the Mandatum to be overkill on Holy Thursday anyway. Our parish has omitted it for as long as I can remember. It seems to me that this is something that MIGHT work out better at the Chrism Mass between the bishop and his priests rather than the priests and the faithful. Of course, a lot of Chrism Masses are rather (unnecessarily at times) long already, so it may be impractical even them.

  19. MarkJ says:

    From what i have read, this optional foot-washing rite was a Liturgical innovation from 1955… not exactly a longstanding tradition in the Mass. I personally have never cared for this “innovation” in any form as part of the Mass of Holy Thursday. I would love to see more and more parishes opt out of this entirely…

  20. SimonDodd says:

    Optional… An option alone. Just say no, fathers.

    Also, note that the people must still be selected—the “cattle call” is still illicit.

  21. MrsMacD says:

    This makes me sad. It’s not good. Women in the sanctuary are not good (unless they’re cleaning or arranging flowers). It’s a form of insanity, really, to deny that women are women, that they might have pretty feet that attract the male priests, or to deny that it will break down the modesty of women and girls. That it might cause mortal sins of lust in the sanctuary. That it might and probably will offend God in His own house. It’s embarrassing and sad. But I guess it’s nothing new… It does illustrate how the Novus Ordo tends to destruction rather than to an increase in order or in Love for God.

  22. Geoffrey says:

    I long said this was one battle in the “reform of the reform” that was lost some time ago. The abuse was so widespread, this was inevitable. Nevertheless, it is a sad, dark day.

  23. dans0622 says:

    If this change results in everyone actually following the rubrics of the ritual (when it is used), it is a success. Unfortunately, the innovations in the ritual that can be found in some parishes go way beyond the priest washing the foot/feet of women. I doubt they will cease. You’re right, Father. Some people just don’t really care about liturgical law and the liturgy.

  24. msmsem says:

    To me, at least this signifies that Pope Francis recognizes that his actions were contrary to standing liturgical law, hence his changing the law. In other words, all those who had claimed that Pope Francis had, by his own example alone, changed liturgical law (and there were many who claim so) were wrong.

    And there’s nothing to stop a priest from still continuing to choose to wash the feet of men only (i.e. this doesn’t *require* the washing of women’s feet – only allows it). So I would add to your First Observation, Fr., that not only is the Mandatum itself optional but that the inclusion of women in the rite is also optional. “It just happens that qui selecti ex populo Dei… viri sunt.”

  25. TimG says:

    According to Fox News, “Shortly after he was elected, Francis raised conservative eyebrows by performing the rite on men and women, Christians as well as Muslims , at a jail.”

    If the article is correct, Francis has already indicated that all people are among “the people of God”.

    Frankly, this is starting to feel a lot like the executive mandates coming from Barack Obama.

  26. Gregorius says:

    Well, the decision says women are allowed, but it doesn’t mean they HAVE to be chosen. Just as many ordinary parishes are able to maintain all male altar service, catechesis on the rite’s traditional connection to the apostles and to holy orders might allow the traditional praxis to continue.
    Not sure if that’s any help to parishes already facing pressure allow women, but at that point a pastor could say “it’s a five minute ritual for one time a year, there’s no point in making a fuss if I just so happen to choose only men.”

  27. bourgja says:

    At first I thought that this was a satirical headline from Eye of the Tiber. I guess the good thing about it is that at the next Holy Thursday, Pope Francis will not be violating liturgical norms as has happened for the last three years.

  28. Jet41815 says:

    This is very shocking, troubling, and just plain sad. To think that the Pope believes he can “improve” the actions of God Himself is astonishing. Christ Himself instituted this ritual, but Francis thinks he can “improve” it? As if Christ somehow failed to express the full meaning of His own gesture? Now, after more than 2,000 years, Francis finally discovered what Christ *really* meant to express? I’m still reeling.

  29. Eonwe says:

    I believe I understand why Francis is doing this (love, healing, etc for all). However, what is being lost from the ceremony can only weaken Catholics understanding of liturgy further. Granted, it seems like most parishes washed the feet of men and women anyways.

  30. Roguejim says:

    I suspect most priests will be in agreement with the change. Few will object. The “reform of the reform” seems to be going the way of the dinosaur. I hope the Pontiff doesn’t decide to start tampering with the TLM.

  31. Bthompson says:

    I find this development very frustrating as those actively disobeying were rewarded. If they had been a longstanding lobby to change this, but obeying in the meantime, it would be a lot less irritating (less so, but still irritating).

    I guess this just cements in my mind my preference take the “omit” option whenever it is in my power as celebrant (I have been pressured before to participate as a concelebrant, and even as a deacon back in the day, though I ultimately avoided it by registering my earnest discomfort at the, then, disobedient form it was taking).

  32. anilwang says:

    Third, just as in the cases of Communion in the hand and the use of altar girls, both of which were legalized after years of blatant disobedience to the law, this move by Pope Francis could be interpreted to mean that liturgical norms mean very little and, worse, that liturgy means very little.

    It will be, but unfaith priests, but it won’t be by faithful ones. Contrary to how its announced on some blogs, this decision is entirely reversible. It’s precisely the hermeneutic that you provide that makes it possible (i.e., it’s better to have the rubrics and common practice match, otherwise rubrics mean nothing).

    If the only reason altar girls, communion in the hand, and reinterpreting the foot washing is because pastorally the Pope thinks it’s better to have the bulk of priests obeying faulty rubrics rather than disobeying perfect rubrics, then all it takes is a serious Pope to reverse the decision by fixing the problem preserving the hermeneutic but restoring the correct rubrics and enforcing obedience (e.g. declaring in all liturgical books that it is a mortal sin for priests to deviate from the rubrics).

    [That’ll happen.]

  33. Elizabeth M says:

    If Jesus wanted women involved in this way He could have done it in a public forum. Or He could have washed the feet of any of the Holy Women.
    “Francis is trying to “improve” the rites so that they express fully the meaning of Christ’s gesture in the Upper Room.” Huh?
    People of God will include everyone, Christian or not, I’m sure. After all, aren’t we ALL children of the Creator?
    Praise God we can attend the EF and avoid these conundrums.
    Prayers for the Holy Father and our priests who must now deal with this. Many I’m sure will just avoid talking about it, which leads to poorly catechized Catholics.

  34. TheDude05 says:

    I’ve noticed in the commentary on the Register’s FB post that most are against this change, and the one’s who are for it bring out their credentials and seem to show a complete misunderstanding of Liturgy and the Bible. As I posted there, just because the Holy Father has made this change it does not excuse the disobedience of the past. Those who abused the Liturgy then will now find new ways to abuse it now that this is licit. All the while they will call out Do not judge, the rallying cry of modernists and moral relativists.

  35. Imrahil says:

    Well, the day is there!

    The day is there that Pope Francis does something (in the “worth reporting” sense; of course he always celebrates Mass and so forth) which I can sincerely applaud almost without any reservation.

    What does this move tell us?

    It tells us that after all, Pope Francis did care about those who don’t want to disobey the law. He took care about the consciences of all those conservative priests who would have held themselves bound to say, “yes, I’d include women if I could; but I can’t, it’s forbidden; the Pope did it but he dispensed himself, which he can but I can’t”. Despite some tone of his speeches that may suggest the contrary, he does, after all, think that law is something that exists for a purpose and is worth to be obeyed.

    And he didn’t, of course, order the inclusion of women. It is not disobedience to continue as if nothing had happened: “Qui selecti sunt” can, after all, happen to be all men. [*] It only would be disobedience to accuse others who don’t of disobedience.

    [* A case could even be made that since it is “selecti”, not “selecti selectaeve”, that at least one man must be present.]

    Though I privately see little reason** not to do so, now the argument that the law must be fulfilled has fallen away. The Mandatum does not commemorate an Ordination; it commemorates the cleansing of the feet after the bath, that is, either Confession after Baptism, or the cleaning of venial sins (by devotional Confession, the Confiteor, the sprinkling of sacred water and the like) after the mortal ones have been delt with (by Baptism and Confession). It also does have to do with activities of charity; but despite the fact that it happened, historically, to the Apostles, I do not see (to repeat myself) a link to Ordination.

    (I say that as one who’d vote for a prudential, but not indefinite, return to Communion in the mouth if he were asked, and thinks that an all-male altar servership is in itself better than what we have now.)

    [**other than, of course, the good Catholic reason of doing things as they always have been done as long as change is only possible but not ordered.]

    However, for intrinsical reasons and not only the text of the law, it is (I think) of vital importance that only baptized Catholics in (as the state of the soul is not public) good standing are admitted, that is those who, well, can be admitted to partake of the Last Supper.

  36. Traductora says:

    Francis doing his favorite thing – “decreeing.” I notice Cardinal Sarah’s accompanying letter made it clear that this was at the orders of the Pope.

    Oh well. In practice, it won’t make much difference in the US, where it already seems to be universal, and I actually think it was meant to tweak the Europeans and Africans more than us.

    It’s just another rejection of symbolism, history and tradition in the new Spirit filled Church ushered in by his glorious reign.

  37. arga says:

    In my diocese (Richmond) women have been included in foot washing for years, against the rules. Sooner or later, the rule breakers win. What did Richard John Neuhaus write about orthodoxy? Where it is optional, sooner or later it will be discarded. Unfortunately, even when it is NOT optional, it will discarded. Anyway, it is good the rite itself has always been optional because I never thought it added much of anything to the liturgy, and when women were included it seemed ridiculous because none of the apostles were women.

  38. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Is His Holines’ instruction to Cardinal Sarah part of the commission to fulfill the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, or the reforms of Pope Benedict XVI?

    On another track, given that Latin can make the distinction between men and women (O Filii et filiae comes to mind) the fact that the language doesn’t appear to include women could, I submit, be rightly understood NOT to change the situation while appearing to do so.

  39. jfk03 says:

    Father Z, am I to assume that this decree applies only to the Latin Church, and does not purport to bind the Eastern Catholic Churches? [Do Eastern Churches use the Roman Missal?]

  40. TimG says:

    The other thing I will say in regards to “the Pope was already doing this anyway”….I hope we all realize this is a complete flashback to the 70’s. Disobedient pastors were already saying the Mass in English, so let’s just formalize it. Dangerous path here.

  41. moon1234 says:

    And this rule will further divide the Roman Church from the rest of the Catholic Churches. It will also further “balkanize” the roman church. Would a parent who wants to avoid these innovations take their children to the Novus Order where they may be confused by what they are seeing?

    My daughter (when she was five) went with my wife to Mass one day at the Cathedral parish. The Bishop was there along with his MC. The MC was wearing the white sack cloth chasuble and standing next to the Bishop. We normally attend the EF so she is used to a priest looking “Normal.” She piped up loud enough for the Bishop to hear her and said “Mom are you sure this is a Catholic Church? It doesn’t look like a Catholic Church (No tabernacle visible, table altar, etc.). She then said “That doesn’t look like a Father. Are you sure he is a priest?”

    My wife was a little embarrassed but she was asking innocent questions. She recognized very quickly with child like innocence that what she knew as the faith was not “right.” THAT is why I am very careful about where my children attend Mass. They learn by watching and hearing. They may seem distracted, but they recognize quickly when something is out of place.

    Lex orandi, lex credendi

  42. yatzer says:

    The whole business of a priest washing women’s feet creeps me out. If I can’t make it to the EF Holy Thursday Mass, I think I’ll just skip it.

  43. Andrew says:

    According to CNN, this is “a move long awaited by Western women”. I draw a mental picture of millions of Western women eagerly awaiting this.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  44. mharden says:

    The best formulation I have seen regarding the liturgical connection to Ordination is from Father Jerry Pokorsky back in 1997:

    “If the washing of feet were only symbolic of charity and service, why did Jesus not wash the feet of the sick, or the hungry, or the lepers, or His friends in the house of Lazarus, or at the feeding of the five thousand? The Lord might have have found other occasions to give a lesson in charity and service in the presence of all His disciples, both men and women. But He did not.

    “Christ chose an occasion which was not open to all His followers, but only to those twelve men He had chosen and called as Apostles. We must conclude, then, that the ritual is intimately connected to the priesthood and the institution of the Eucharist. Its symbolism cannot be reduced to a general theme of service to the whole Church.

    “The Lord’s example is given to those who would serve the people of God in His name, calling them to humility and self-abnegation in their priestly ministry. Hence, the ceremonial recalling of this act is liturgically related to the whole mystery of Holy Thursday — to the priesthood and the Eucharist. To include women confuses this focus and obscures the theological meaning of these solemn acts.”

    Full article here:

  45. cdet1997 says:

    I am concerned this will invite strife and discord in parishes where the priest chooses to use only men. Will Father have to deal with a woman having a spittle-flecked nutty over her newly-found right to a liturgical foot washing? [You have to ask? There will be those who will now claim that the Pope has said that women must be included.]

  46. jkking says:

    Echoing moon1234, we also normally go across town to the EF (or to the Latin-language NO at the same parish). But on the Immaculate Conception we went to our local parish and everyone held hands or held up their hands at the Our Father.

    My daughter is only three and is still at the stage where she plays with stuff and looks at books during Mass. She never really responds to what’s happening in the actual Mass, unless we direct her attention. But I’ll never forget that time, how she looked around at everyone and raised her hands up too, without any prompting.

    Now I don’t like that gesture in the Our Father, but I’m no zealot against it either. Even so, that just drove home how important it is for liturgical reverence to be instilled at a young age.

    I guess the feet washing thing is just another lost opportunity to catechize on the theology of the Mass. When someone explained to me why in a solemn mass the deacon carries the burse in front of his face, or the subdeacon holds the paten under the humeral veil, I was so amazed and interested, even by those little gestures, because they were packed with theological meaning. The NO is fine and all, but IMHO the gestures are more meant to connect with the people and engage them, and not so much to convey theological meaning. This strikes me as exactly what’s going on with the foot washing. It may very well inspire people – could be a good thing! – but it’s not catechetical, and it’s a shame we’re losing those opportunities.

  47. Robbie says:

    Today is definitely a day I wish my Internet service was not working. It seems like every few weeks or so the Holy Spirit develops something new for the Pope to try.

  48. Anthony says:

    Given the fact that these the words “Viri selecti…” have been in place for many, many centuries, it would seem that attempts to change their meaning (or alter the words altogether) to suit modern purposes are flawed as they fail to recognize the timelessness of the original words. (Saying “we need NEW words to speak to us” is just a bit presumptuous and displays a complete lack of historical understanding and hermeneutics.)

    Words have specific meaning and should be used very carefully. Failure to heed this can, and often does, produce disastrous results – especially with regards to the “Law of Unintended Consequences”.

  49. Dick Verbo says:

    Hmmm…since it will be cold, probably freezing, in most of North America on March 24, one would expect women to be wearing stockings, and perhaps knee-length boots. If they are wearing skirts to Mass (as they ought), will they be removing their pantyhose in the sanctuary?

    As Mrs Mac D says above,
    ” It’s a form of insanity, really, to deny that women are women, ….. or to deny that it will break down the modesty of women and girls.”

    Up until the 1920’s, “a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking” for good reason.
    Apparently now “Anything Goes”. I’m with Yatzer above:” If I can’t make it to the EF Holy Thursday Mass, I think I’ll just skip it.” Oh, wait, maybe they’ll just wash the feet of nuns in pantsuits.

  50. Kevin says:

    “People of God”? Sounds to me exclusive. How about Creatures of God? Then I can bring along Fido. While we’re pushing the boundaries, why not go all the way and have done with it?

  51. Semper Gumby says:

    This is unfortunate. Though it does provide additional motivation for the EF.

    One does wonder about the unseemly restlessness of this Pontiff in casting about for “improvements.” Also his recurring slander of traditionalists. Prayers for Francis.

  52. Clinton R. says:

    Can women’s ordination to the priesthood by far behind? Communion in the hand and girl altar boys were once forbidden and are now allowed. [This isn’t a prelude to women’s ordination … for this Pope. He seems to have closed that door more than once. But… hey!… who knows what the “Goid of Surprises” might do next?]

  53. djc says:

    Very serious question here—I’m not trolling. Does anyone just get the urge to go over to the Orthodox and not deal with these constant, never-ending changes?

  54. Jarrod says:


    Serious answer here – no. The stasis of Orthodoxy is not a result of conservation but of paralysis, a symptom of their self-imposed isolation from the one Church. If you’re inclined, go East – but not into schism. (I confess I toy with the idea sometimes, but in the end I’m a Latin, and that’s that – no disrespect intended to our brothers.)

  55. Lamb100 says:

    CNN did not ask this Western woman for her opinion. I agree with MrsMacD: this makes me sad.

    To djc: I’ve considered it. Sad but true. I don’t know where to attend Mass in my diocese where I can depend on reverence and a lack of shenanigans in the liturgy. But I think I am meant to stay the course.

    We have much to pray for.

  56. cwillia1 says:

    The answer, djc, is yes. And for that matter the NO situation is an obstacle to restoring unity with the Eastern churches. Not the main obstacle. It confirms the impression of some that the Latin Church has drifted from apostolic Christianity.

  57. christopherschaefer says:

    While I am quite the traditionalist when it comes to liturgy (I attend a traditional Latin Solemn High Mass every Sunday here in Norwalk, Connecticut), it was Pope Pius XII who created this mess in the first place. The “Mandatum”/washing of feet always was done at Vespers–not at Mass–in the Roman Rite, until the numerous changes introduced to Holy Week by Pius XII. It NEVER had a “sacerdotal” meaning; those who had their feet washed did NOT “represent the Apostles”. In monasteries of women religious, the abbess or prioress washed the feet of all the FEMALE members of the religious community. In 1955, under the guidance of none other than Annibale Bugnini (who also was author of the disastrous 1969 Novus Ordo/”Ordinary Form” Mass), the Mandatum was moved to Mass for “pastoral reasons” (yes, I also hear alarm bells going off…), since most Catholics do not attend Vespers. The unfortunate, unintended result of this 1955 “pastoral change” was that it soon changed the MEANING of the rite. What REALLY needs to happen is to restore our authentic tradition and put it back at Vespers where it belongs. At Mass it creates an awkward, lengthy pause that turns into a bizarre spectacle: utterly inappropriate at the Evening Mass. (As an aside, it’s interesting to note that in the Milanese Church foot washing was the original form of Baptism, until Rome insisted they conform to the practice of the rest of the Christendom. And in Milan they baptised both men AND women.)

  58. Raymond says:

    As much as I don’t like this change in rubrics (like pretty much everything coming from this Pope), it is a short, optional rite that occurs only once a year in a Mass that is not even a holy day of obligation.

    That said, if God forbid that Francis is stupid enough to implement a more major change (i.e. communion for civilly divorced, lessening the gravity of the sin of homosexual acts, etc.), I would be more than ready for the Schism that would follow–flee from the ecclesia Bergogliana and join the Traditionalist Rebellion.

    At this moment, I’m thinking of writing a formal, respectful letter in Spanish to the Pope, letting him know how I exactly feel. Even if he doesn’t actually read it, someone from his staff will.

  59. Muv says:

    Yatzer says:-
    The whole business of a priest washing women’s feet creeps me out.

    Same here. There is no mention of a dress code. Skirts vary. Either the Pope hasn’t realised that the priest’s eyes will be at the same level as the seat of the woman’s chair, which is bad, or he has, which is worse.

  60. PostCatholic says:

    A question in all sincerity: Why isn’t this a Catholic sacrament? It’s an outward sign, instituted by Christ–does it not confer grace?

    [Christ also beat people with a whip of cords. Just sayin’. So… what would be the matter and form of the sacrament of foot washing? What would be the effects?]

  61. I am hoping that the right parenthesis on this issue closes in my lifetime. Perhaps the next Pope will simply suppress the rite altogether. What goes around, comes around. Meanwhile, I may appear at Holy Innocents in Manhattan this coming Holy Thursday.

  62. Kathleen10 says:

    Just wondering about the “people of God” definition. The horrible video that the Vatican just came out with, the debacle with the four objects that represent various religions, the little Buddha, the Muslim prayer beads, the menorah, the Baby Jesus? Didn’t that video refer to the “people of God”? I could be wrong, but as I recall it said that in the video. But I admit, I only read that, I did not watch the entire video.
    If so, “people of God” is no longer restricted to Christians, for this pope.
    Tim G., exactly. I feel we see the same type of executive orders in the Vatican that Americans have seen in the White House for the last eight years.
    Andrew, not this Western woman, and I feel certain not most who visit this blog. It is a repugnant thought for the reasons everyone posted here.

  63. Father G says:

    @ JesusFreak 84,

    Foot washing is NOT “completely missing from the Byzantine rites”. It is practiced by all Eastern Christian Churches, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike, and, at least in one parish, has included washing the feet of women.

    Video of foot washing in Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Syriac Orthodox Churches in Jerusalem:

    Russian Orthodox version:

    Greek Orthodox parish where women’s feet are also washed:

    When the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments allowed altar girls in the Roman rite in 1994, several Eastern Catholic parishes adopted the practice.
    I suspect that the washing of women’s feet will begin to happen in their Holy Thursday liturgies as well.

  64. kiwiinamerica says:

    Why bother changing the law? What’s the point? When the law said women were not to be included, Pope Francis simply ignored it.

    If the law is no impediment to acting according to one’s whims, why not simply follow the Pope’s example?

    BTW, read Fr. Ray Blake’s piece on this. It’s a home run.

  65. First, I think some folks are overreacting. Some things are a crisis. This is not a crisis.

    Second, I have mixed feelings. I am GLAD the Holy Father corrected the problem of priests and bishops being in a bind about this. It was clear this is what he wanted. Either he needed to change his own practice, or else change the rubric. The situation, as it was, wasn’t good. OTOH, I think the washing is mainly about ordination, and therefore, this change moves in the wrong direction, with all respect to the Holy Father.

    My solution — no one asked — would have been for the Holy Father to have done as he did, but…outside of Mass. Perhaps before. Or the day before. Either way, apart from Mass. Problem solved!

    Third, I actually liked the rite, and miss doing it. But I won’t do it anymore. In my current parish, it isn’t done (per my predecessor), and I shall not bring it back. Not now. If I did it with all men, it would easily be seen as a rebuttal to the pope. No, I’m not doing that. The men+women method, while now licit, is not, to my mind, the best way to go. Until the pope mandates it, I won’t seek to do it. So I think the best solution is to leave it out. It is, after all, a fairly recent addition to the Mass.

  66. GAK says:

    If we’re going to gut the symbolism, then why not pare it down entirely? One man, one woman. Wash the feet, badaboom badabing, done. Pick a man and wife. Heck, throw in one boy kid and one girl kid, too. Four of them and it’d still be done in a lot less time than the old way. And at least the symbolism of family could mean something, in this day and age.

    Or, skip it entirely.

  67. PostCatholic says:

    All right, let’s go with Hardon:

    “A sensible sign, instituted by Jesus Christ, by which invisible grace and inward sanctification are communicated to the soul. The essential elements of a sacrament of the New Law are institution by Christ the God-man during his visible stay on earth, and a sensibly perceptible rite that actually confers the supernatural grace it symbolizes.”

    One does wonder the Purification of the Temple didn’t become an essential part of public worship. Certainly it might have been a part of the consecration of a church or chapel. I could imagine browsing a museum and coming upon an accession card that read “Handle to Church Purificator, Gold with whalebone inset portraying St Peter Damien, attributed to Workshops of Pere Fouettard, c. 1450. Matching Aspergellum…” Certainly for many years clergy and religious experimented with the form as an exorcism of sorts, on children who had attained the age of reason, but the invisible grace conferred was harder to detect than the visible welts conferred and it’s now considered A Bad Idea by most pedagogues.

    I’m only jesting.

    Being serious–The form is established: someone abases himself (seems like that much is unchanged; its’ still a himself) to perform a menial act of service, sometimes while wearing a gremial? So, the grace conferred might be humility? What might the grace be to the recipients? But it seems to me this is one of the more dramatic things for Jesus to have done to teach by example at the Last Supper. Humility seems like it was a large point he wanted to drive home. Perhaps it might have come to be a form for the sacrament of ordination?

  68. JKnott says:

    The “crystal ball” speaks: Coming soon to your local innovative parish – the line up of footwashees will sooner than later be made up of about 9 elderly ladies, 2 girls immodestly dressed, and one little boy.

  69. Luke W says:

    When liturgical norms are meant to be guarantors of the intrinsic beauty of the liturgy this is enough to make a person weep. Liturgical norms must reflect truth (i.e.: Jesus washed the feet of 12 apostles) since the transcendentals are connatural. Francis’ apparent lack of a healthy sense of obligation for supporting liturgical beauty has concerned me since early in his papacy. This change is a profound loss for the faithful when it remains quite real that truth, beauty, and solemnity in the liturgy promote an interior freedom for the worshipper to bring himself into the presence of Jesus: To the extent that the transcendentals are disregarded in the norms, liturgy becomes more of a reflection of self where Jesus is lost to us during the liturgy as we turn the entire purpose of the celebration of the ordinary form directly on its head.

  70. RafqasRoad says:


    You don’t have to go across to the Orthodox for relief, it can be found in any Eastern Rite Catholic Church, their vast majority of sacraments open to Catholic Christians of all rites (e.g. Eucharist, confession etc.). if you have a Maronite Catholic, Melchite Catholic, Byzantine Catholic or Ukranian Catholic church near you, you will be welcome to attend mass with them regardless of cultural or ethnic affiliation.I am uncertain as to how this will play out within the Anglican Ordinariate but think things should remain sane within said group.

  71. mburn16 says:

    I have to agree with a lot of the above. Obviously its far from ideal….but its not the hill to die on, and, to the credit of the Holy Father, this change is probably being done in such a way that avoids any undesirable “women’s ordination” push. Simply put: he re-purposed it. Now it has nothing to do with ordained ministry.

    Add my name to the list of people who think this rite is overdone to begin with. In the parish I’ve attended for years, Father washes the feat of twelve people (men and women), who then turn around and wash the feet of other people, and so on. Whatever relationship this rite had to the role of the Apostles as the first ordained ministers of the Christian Church was lost on those attending long ago. And, frankly, if we’ve separated the rite from that particular association, the case against including women falls apart. Certainly the capacity to be ordained under current discipline was never a requirement – most of the men showing up to have their feet washed by the Priest are married, with children, and I doubt the majority are even in a state of grace.

  72. TheDude05 says:

    I have an idea, if women need to be involved so badly in special liturgies the Holy Father could help them out by giving them their own special liturgy. On the Sunday that the Gospel with the story of the woman anointing Christ for burial is proclaimed, one woman chosen from the parish may come forward, annoint the Priest’s head with expensive perfume, wash his feet, and dry them off with her hair. I wonder how long the line of volunteers would be for that.

  73. Nan says:

    @Rafqas Road, Catholic is Catholic. Confession and Communion are open to all Catholics. We don’t call it Mass; it’s the Divine Liturgy. Latin Rite Catholics are unlikely to receive their Rites of Initiation in an Eastern parish as they’re given to babies in one fell swoop. Those wanting to become deacons or priests need to be certain of their Rite as there are many raised, like me, in the Latin Rite, to which they don’t belong. I’m told that men sometimes only discover their proper rite upon applying to seminary or diaconate.

    @DJC, Lamb100, Jerrod, yes, the Eastern Rite Churches would be happy to see you, whether as a liturgical tourist or member of the parish. People often flee in times of abuse. Having said that, I highly recommend the Holy Week Wed. service in the Byzantine Rite, which is long, full of incense and ends with the Sacrament of the Holy Anointing (anointing of the sick), which the Church believes everyone should receive once a year. My parish has confession available ahead of time which it also recommends.

    @willia1, you must be a convert. The Primacy of Rome and Filioque are issues. The form of Mass isn’t. My Orthodox priest friend thinks I should change to the FSSP parish, primarily because it’s in the neighborhood. He could just as easily suggest my Byzantine Rite parish, also in the neighborhood.

  74. CharlesG says:

    I would think that reference to the Vat. II document Lumen gentium would make it clear that “People of God” refers to all the faithful of the Church, both clergy and laity. It is one of the “models” of the Church.

  75. Father K says:

    This article prompted me to have a look at the history of this rite. My three references are Fortescue and O’ Connell 1932, St Andrew’s Missal 1936 and The Liturgical Year by Pius Parsch 1964 edition. [This is merely by way of comment it is not trying to reach a conclusion]. Prior to the reforms of Pius XII the Mandatum took place either in the church or another place, outside the church itself. It took place after the stripping of the altars [this was also done later in the day not at the end of Mass] or later again in the day. It was generally performed in cathedrals and religious houses only. [Does that mean women’s religious houses as well as men?] Thirteen men were involved. [After a mysterious man appeared at the Mandatum performed by Pope Gregory the Great. At the end of the ceremony the man disappeared. Pope Gregory believed he was either an angel or Our Lord himself]. The 1955 reform marks the first time it was included during Mass and the number returns to 12. Pius Parsch says that while the feet of 12 persons are being washed the hymn Ubi caritas is sung. However, Foretscue says that 13 men wait at the place prepared and comments that in many places poor men are chosen. The rubricist Martinucci comments that they should be given new clothes and a dinner afterwards.

    So before 1955 the ceremony had a number of variations during the course of the centuries and it is not clear if it was always exclusively men involved. I asked a very old nun about what, if anything happened in her monastery prior to 1955. She said it depended on the Superior. Some carried out the ceremony washing the feet of all the sisters, some declined to conduct the ceremony at all. She also grumbled that after 1955 ‘there was a lot of waiting around.’ An examination of the Triduum prior to that and supplementary non-liturgical rites at the time shows there was always something interesting happening!

  76. pmullane says:

    Fr Z –

    “. [This isn’t a prelude to women’s ordination … for this Pope. He seems to have closed that door more than once. But… hey!… who knows what the “Goid of Surprises” might do next?]”

    I also dont think this move is a ‘set up’ for womens ordination, however what is to stop a priest who supports a ‘Kasparian’ view of the pastoral care of the married then civilly divorced then civilly married again deciding to impliment his proposals? Its ‘the rules’ that they are not to recieve Holy Communion, amoungst other things, but if this situation, and female altar servers, and communion in the hand, have taught anything, is that (at least in some situations) if you persistantly break ‘the rules’ then the Church will react by changing ‘the rules’ to suit you. So why not have Herman J Adulterer the IIIrd as president of the parish council, because mercy and what have you, and insofar as the Pope has taken any position on the matter, he has given indication that allowing these people to recieve is, at worst, an option worthy of ligitimate consideration? How many priests have to do this, how many bishops have to turn a blind eye, before its what ‘everyone’ does and the ‘rules’ just need to change to accommodate what happens in reality?

  77. kbf says:

    @ Fr Z: “I provide this because I, too, am quoted in that article. The writer, predictably, tried to set my view against that of the local bishop. Fine. We’ve seen this game before.”

    Actually, I didn’t get this from the piece. It states +Morlino is “conservative”, a word potentially loaded perhaps but a statement of reasonable fact, then gives a wacky liberal feminazi view from the WOC and contrasts it with a view(s) from your blog. It’s not as bad a piece of journalism as it might appear because it doesn’t stray too far from the facts then give opposing views of the tenet of the story.

    Imagine if weeping Bobby Mickens or the fishwrap lot had written it?

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  79. Imrahil says:

    Rev’d dear Fr Fox,

    interesting comment. I know I already had my say here, but out of genuine interest: on what grounds is it that you say the Mandatum is about Ordination?

    (And even if it were – wouldn’t the connection with Ordination at least certainly be looser than the one of altarboyship?)

  80. Imrahil says:

    Dear Nan,

    while it is true that the Orthodox have no grudge against the Roman Rite, it is also known that they often do have a grudge against the Catholic Churches of their own rite. So your friend’s choice could also be explained in that way…

  81. cwillia1 says:

    Nan, it is a fact that some Orthodox do not see the liturgical practice of the Latin Church as an authentic expression of apostolic Christianity. Now there are many issues and Orthodox disagree about what is critical and what is not. The papacy is at the top, filioque is probably next and for some the list is long, extending even to the use of unleavened bread in the Mass. What do you think Patriarch Bartholomew is getting at when he talks about a separation at the ontological level between the Eastern and Western churches? He is saying that the gap will not be bridged when the theologians find agreement on some short list of issues. The estrangement exists at the level of the daily practice of the Christian faith and this, I would say, is most evident in what happens at the liturgy.

    I do not share Patriarch Bartholomew’s position. I am Catholic. But I am acutely aware of what separates us from the Orthodox.

  82. frahobbit says:

    the Chapel of the Russian Catholic Church is in little Italy in NYC. I’ve been to their liturgies. I have yet to understand why they give unconsecrated wine along with the Sacred Host. Otherwise their Liturgies are quite beautiful.

  83. TNCath says:

    I admire Bishop Morlino’s humble acceptance of this decree. He “gets it,” even though he may not agree with it. I also sympathize with Fr. Blake’s apology. He represents all the priests and bishops who held the line for the Church and have been left hanging out to dry.

    While we all know that this pontificate is, in the words of Father Z, a “parenthesis” in the Church, this change is just another example of something that, once it is promulgated, will never be fully suppressed. Cases in fact: female altar servers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Communion in the hand, the versus populum liturgical position, face-to-face Confession, “Be Not Afraid,” “On Eagles Wings,” “Here I am, Lord,” “Gather Us In,” and “All are Welcome,” the last of which will be the liturgical cheer when and if the Pope allows Holy Communion for the divorce and remarried.

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  85. Sonshine135 says:

    You better be sure that my Priests will forgo the washing of the feet on Holy Thursdays from here on out. We don’t fly that way.

    As to the question of whether we will now see Priests kissing the feet of young ladies, I have news for many of you, that horse left the barn a long time ago. Priests have been doing this for years, and yes, they kiss the feet of the young ladies.

    Also, if this is the way it will be done, so be it. If I am visiting a church where this is taking place, you will not see me “actively participating” in that portion of the Mass. Sorry.

    One last thing. Our Pontiff is not a liturgist. That being the case, I reason that he should not be messing with the liturgy. Heart surgeons, I am sure, are great at what they do. That doesn’t mean I want them operating on my brain.

  86. Luke W says:

    I should correct my above statement. I meant to write that the transcendentals are “co-inherent” as opposed to “co-natural”. My point was simple: If the historic truth (in this case) is not expressed in the liturgical norm, then the beauty that goes hand-in-hand with truth is also missing (as are the other two transcendentals). The liturgy is meant to make us receptive to what Jesus wills and wants for our life in such a way that when we say “Yes” through the Creed and the reception of the Eucharist we are receptive enough to truly mean “Yes”. But receptivity itself implies that I must be drawn out of my “self” into the mystery of the wholly “Other” (Jesus, and what he wills and wants for my life). If that does not happen because beauty and truth were not manifest during the liturgy that I attended, then I risk missing the point of serving God: Doing his will. Good liturgy (i.e.: transcendent, solemn, with a space for silence built in) is the “thing” on which living the faith well hinges.

  87. pseudomodo says:

    Andrew Says: According to CNN, this is “a move long awaited by Western women”. I draw a mental picture of millions of Western women eagerly awaiting this.

    I have done some research as to the potential number of western women eagerly awaiting this and have derived a formula that can predict this.

    I call it the NOB formula.

    N = C x W x A x F x M x U x R where N is the number of women eagerly awaiting this.


    C = Catholics in the Roman Rite
    W = Women Catholics
    A = Adult Women Catholics
    F = Catholics who fullfill their Sunday obligation
    M = Women Catholics who would attend the Mandatum anyways
    U = Catholics born in the 50’s
    R = Catholics who could care less about liturgical law

    It is self evident that some of these factors can be quite low percentages. For the purposes of this study we take that CNN does not mean ALL western women but implies a restriction to women who are included in the term “people of God”. In addition since it is the Holy Father who is promulgating this decree we further see a restriction to Catholics.

    Many of these factors can be accurately measured but for the most part we can derive numbers based on data from pew surveys, evangelical research groups, CNN estimates and forecasts from NCR. This date was then simulated though computer modeling yielding a minimum of random error. The results vary in a range from as much as a million women all the way down to about 100 women.

    The lower end value is consistent with the number of Nuns that can fit On an average sized Bus. (NOB)

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  89. jhayes says:

    First clarification from the CDW – CNA interview

    Although the Pope has previously chosen to wash the feet of both non-Catholics and non-Christians, Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, cautioned that the new change does not necessarily include them.

    In Jan. 21 comments to CNA, the archbishop said that the changes are meant for “the local community,” and members of “the local parish.”

    He said that reading the decree as an invitation for non-Catholics to participate would be a “selective interpretation” of the text, and that while this could be something that happens “in the future,” it’s probably not what the Pope’s decision intended.

    However, Archbishop Roche did say that although the decree is meant for the local community, it’s possible that a non-Catholic spouse of a parishioner who regularly attends the Catholic liturgy could be chosen to participate.

    The archbishop also touched on the topic of whether non-Christians could be chosen. He pointed to Pope Francis’ decision to wash the feel of Muslim youth in 2013, distinguishing between papal liturgies from the everyday liturgy in “normal” situations.

    He explained that when Pope Francis chose to wash the feet of Muslim youth, it was under “special circumstances” and took place in an “unusual setting,” whereas the current decree is intended for the “normal, everyday liturgy in the parish.”

    So when reading the decree’s emphasis on the “People of God,” Archbishop Roche said the phrase can be interpreted from its use in Lumen gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s dogmatic constitution on the Church, in which the term refers “specifically to the Church.”

    [The Secretary of the CDW, Archbp. Roche cited by CNA as having explained more: “However, Archbishop Roche did say that although the decree is meant for the local community, it’s possible that a non-Catholic spouse of a parishioner who regularly attends the Catholic liturgy could be chosen to participate.”]

  90. Imrahil says:

    I know I already had my say here, but out of genuine interest: on what grounds is it that you say the Mandatum is about Ordination?

    (And even if it were – wouldn’t the connection with Ordination at least certainly be looser than the one of altarboyship?)

    Well, I am not a liturgical historian or any sort of expert, but as others have noted, look at the context of the ritual’s origins: the supper before our Lord went to the cross. What was that about? It was about the Eucharist and the sacrament of Holy Orders. He washed the feet of the Twelve, who were destined to be the priests of the renewed Israel. As someone else noted, above or elsewhere, our Lord had many opportunities to wash the feet of other people, but did not. Or, rather, if he did, it was not recorded. He could have washed the feet of Martha and Mary, for example.

    In saying that, I’m not denying the gesture has additional meaning, such as the Holy Father emphasizes. I am simply stating what I think was it’s primary meaning in its original context, and what Pope Pius XII intended by including it in the Mass for Holy Thursday.

    I don’t follow the question about “altarboyship” so I don’t know how to respond to that.

  91. gheg says:


    The practice of “zapivka” (washing down) is common in Russian churches of the Byzantine rite. After receiving Holy Communion, the communicant drinks some wine, diluted with warm water, to remove any of the Body and Blood of Christ from the mouth, so as not to inadvertantly spit out the sacred species.

  92. Imrahil:

    Father Blake has an article that explains the matter far better than I did. His blog is linked in the original post.

  93. Jack Orlando says:

    I’m wondering if it would be just as well if the whole foot washing rite came to an end. Anamnesis is not mimesis. The priest and the liturgy should not enact the gestures of Holy Thursday. Many of us have suffered at Mass with the accipite et manducate (take this all of you and eat it) when the priest lifts the host in his two hands, looks at the people, turning left and right, and pretends to be serving the host to them. If the priest thinks that he is an actor playing the role of Our Lord in a stage drama, perhaps his hands should be nailed to the altar.

  94. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    I can’t be the only one who thinks this hill isn’t worth dying for?

    Hordes of muhammadins are pouring into the ruins of Christendom by the millions. Saracens molest women in view of Cologne Cathedral, one of the great Cathedrals in Europe, and you want to argue about washing women’s feet…

    I don’t get it. Roma Locuta Est — Causa Finita Est. His Holiness has spoken. Women’s feet shall be washed. End of discussion!

    Whether or not “¡Hagan Lio!” should be the battle cry for the next Crusade, with the end goal of performing the Mass in the Extraordinary Form among the smoldering rubble once known as “mecca”, or if it should be the battle cry for the Reconquista of Europe, is what I’d prefer to debate.

  95. Grabski says:

    Didn’t the Pope recently say all paths to God, Christian or not, are equally valid?

    Not sure “People of God” limits participation th Catholics, given the Pope already has included a Muslim.

  96. trinko says:

    While I don’t like the Pope’s decision we have to abide by it. Note that he does not require women to be chosen so this means there will be no change for priests who have willingly only chosen men in the past.

    Perhaps the Pope is simply trying to remove some of the things that separate Catholics. Perhaps in his mind it’s better to allow women than to have priests break the law. I personally think that allowing things like this will lead to more deviation from Church teaching on issues like abortion and divorce but it’s possible the Pope thinks that by allowing this he is reducing the number of people who will reject the Church.

    Or perhaps the Pope is thinking about changing the message behind the ceremony. The Pope is the servant of the servants of Christ but it was Jesus who washed Peter not Peter who washed the other Apostles feet.

    Hence Jesus was showing His humility and teaching all of us that we must serve others if we are to live in imitation of Him. Perhaps Pope Francis is trying to send a different message addressed to all of us not just to the clergy by his change. Instead of representing just the relationship of the Apostles to Christ perhaps the Pope believes that the change will help us see that we all must be servants to our neighbors.

    But sadly given the gender ideologies being pushed, by those who have clamored for the change the Pope just made, it’s likely that many Catholics who already disagree with the Church on gender, birth control, and abortion will see affirmation rather than mercy.

    In the end we must avoid the temptation to assume that the Pope is motivated by an antipathy to the Faith. Too many people who dislike VII or the actions of liberal bishops seem eager to accept the most heterodox interpretation possible of the Pope’s actions–and I’m not talking about Fr. Z or the people posting here. Instead we should strive to see if there is a way to understand the Pope’s actions that is in fact a positive for the Church. If we can’t find that then we can acknowledge that the Pope has made a less than optimal decision without ascribing heterodox motives to him.

  97. Nan says:


    The two priests are close friends and Orthodox Father once told me that nobody knew why some were Catholic and others Orthodox when it’s the same rite and the churches. In response to one of his parishioners telling me to convert to orthodoxy, he said people should be where they are.

    When I arrived at the Byzantine rite Catholic church for mom’s funeral, The Orthodox owned funeral home had called their parish, asking for help to carry the body in. Fr and his maintenance guy came to help. He and Byzantine rite Father are close friends and the churches were founded by immigrants from the same place at different times, thanks so Abp Ireland and Fr Toth, now St Alexis.


    How do the Orthodox of which you speak expect to be taken seriously? The complaint of unleavened bread used for communion shows their bias and ignorance. It was the Orthodox, in the 10th century, who changed their communion, to emphasise the difference between Catholic and Orthodox. If you look at the traditional icon of The First Eucharist, it two panels, Jesus gives the Body of Christ to 6 Apostles on one panel and the Blood of Christ to 6 on the other. Tradition has St Peter and St Paul at the head of the lines.

    Modern icons are one panel depicting Christ with a spoon and vessel.

  98. Frahobbit says: ,

    There are several reasons, for the giving out of unconsecrated wine and unconsecrated bread, one of them is for that those that are unable to receive for *insert whatever reason you want here*, that the foretaste be spring step towards coming back to Communion….It’s a tradition, I wouldn’t mind if Roman church used…for “inclusiveness” for those that are unable to receive Holy Communion. .

  99. introibo says:

    All I can say is, whenever I do see the footwashing done on men, said men look REALLY uncomfortable up there. I, as a woman would be, too. Are there women who really WANT to be up there having their feet washed? Or are they just trying to be militant about what this symbolizes?…

  100. Uxixu says:

    To echo Father K, 2nd edition (1920) of Fortescue specifies that the Maundy should not be before the High Altar, but ‘in a side chapel, in the sacristy, or a hall near the church” and that there need not be a real altar or altar stone. He also notes that the men have no dress appointed, though it’s proper they be dressed uniformly in white or in the ‘in the costume of some confraternity.’

    There definitely seems to be an overreaction in many quarters. Possibly a straw too many, for some, but seeing angst in those who normally seem more level headed (usually with a lament of Benedict XVI)… the entire ritual is out of place in the course of the Sacrifice of the Mass, at best an interruption… at worst, a distraction.

  101. Fr. John says:

    “I have yet to understand why they give unconsecrated wine along with the Sacred Host. Otherwise their Liturgies are quite beautiful.”

    I’m an Orthodox priest and I have no idea what you’re referring to.

  102. slainewe says:

    “Instead we should strive to see if there is a way to understand the Pope’s actions that is in fact a positive for the Church.”

    1. Perhaps it will de-politicize the rite (after a few years of brouhaha)?

    2. If washing women’s feet has been an act of disobedience by priests up to this point, it will no longer be?

    3. It gives Catholics attached to the Ordination interpretation an opportunity to humble themselves by embracing their Holy Father’s broader interpretation?

    4. It will distinguish those priests who cannot wash women’s feet (for modesty sake) from those who can; signaling to lovers of chastity to whom to go for guidance?

    5. It will begin a gradual removal of the rite altogether from the Mass. (Once it is no longer political, or has relevance to the Holy Priesthood, it will be seen as an unnecessary distraction from the Mysteries of the Holy Thursday Mass.)?

  103. At a minimum, this idea of washing women’s feet is simply unchaste. The ick factor turns my stomach.
    In the Sanctuary, by priests in a sacred ceremony. Nope.

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