(you knew there ws going to be a "but," right?)...
...but on this issue of the Washing of Feminine Feet, in my (ignorant and reformable) opinion, it is not Pope Francis who is giving scandal, but the anti-papist* wing of the Rad Trads.
Gol-lee, with fideles like these, who needs the sensus infidelium?! It's hard enough here on Free Republic dealing with wolfpacks of sado-evangelicals, and now this?! (No, dear reader, of course I do not mean you.)
Tax-chick, I look always to you for a whiff of sanity. What do you say?
Although my sanity isn’t what it used to be, I’ll venture my opinion anyway.
There’s a difference between the “sacramental” and the “symbolic” at the Last Supper. The Sacraments originated at that time are Eucharist and Holy Orders, and these have specific requirements regarding the matter to be used. For the Eucharist, the matter is bread and wine. For Holy Orders, the matter is a baptised man (and oil). For this reason, the fact that only men were at the Last Supper is significant to the question of the male-only priesthood, though not nearly as critical as the theology of the priesthood and of the Eucharist.
The washing of feet, however, was a symbolic action, not the institution of a Sacrament in which Bishops, only, wash the feet of priests, only; or in which priests wash only one another’s feet. The point, as the Lord made perfectly clear, was that the leaders of His Church should serve others in the humblest way possible, beginning with, but surely not limited to, their own apostolic brethren. We can see that the attendees understood this, since they did not limit their service, in the ensuing years, to one another.
So, from a liturgical standpoint, I think it can go either way. If the point is to emphasize the “reenactment” aspect in the liturgy, as if it were a drama, then having male actors makes sense. (Please don’t have a woman playing Julius Caesar!) If the point is to emphasize the meaning, then those whose feet are washed can reasonably include any of the community, or even - especially - outsiders such as the prisoners to whom Pope Francis has ministered.
In my parish in San Antonio, everyone in the congregation could take a turn of washing someone else’s feet. Spouses with each other, parents with children, anyone with a total stranger ... it was very touching, and brought out that every one of us is called to humble himself in service every day.