Skip to comments.How Should We Understand Pope Francis Washing Women's Feet?
Posted on 03/30/2013 10:44:48 AM PDT by Salvation
It was surprising but not surprising when the Holy See announced that Pope Francis had chosen to celebrate this year's Mass of the Lord's Supper not in one of the papal basilicas of Rome but, instead, in its juvenile prison. That's precisely the kind of gesture that we have come to expect from the new pope in the short time we've been getting to know him. It's not traditional, but it's humble and evangelistic. And it corresponds to Jesus' remarks that, when we visit those in prison, we are spiritually visiting him (Matthew 25:36-40). It's also in keeping with things he's done before, such as holding the service in a maternity hospital in Buenos Aires in 2005. 4. If he can do this, can others? Technically speaking, no. If a pope judges that, due to the particular circumstances of a papal celebration, an exception should be made, that does not create a legal precedent allowing others to do so. Already, the Congregation for Divine Worship has, apparently, indicated privately that a bishop can wash women's feet if he feels a pastoral exception should be made. At least, that's what Cardinal O'Malley indicated he was told when he asked them about the subject (see here for more info). 51. The washing of the feet of chosen men which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the service and charity of Christ, who came "not to be served, but to serve." This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained. This indicates that we should understand that this rite "represents the service and charity of Christ"--
How Should We Understand Pope Francis Washing Women's Feet?
This Year's Mass of the Lord's Supper
1. What do the Church's liturgical documents say about footwashing?
2. How does Pope Francis's decision relate to this?
3. Can Pope Francis just do things that aren't provided for in the law?
5. What should we expect in the future?
6. How should we understand the rite in light of Pope Francis's action?
It was surprising but not surprising when the Holy See announced that Pope Francis had chosen to celebrate this year's Mass of the Lord's Supper not in one of the papal basilicas of Rome but, instead, in its juvenile prison.
That's precisely the kind of gesture that we have come to expect from the new pope in the short time we've been getting to know him.
It's not traditional, but it's humble and evangelistic.
And it corresponds to Jesus' remarks that, when we visit those in prison, we are spiritually visiting him (Matthew 25:36-40).
It's also in keeping with things he's done before, such as holding the service in a maternity hospital in Buenos Aires in 2005.
4. If he can do this, can others?
Technically speaking, no. If a pope judges that, due to the particular circumstances of a papal celebration, an exception should be made, that does not create a legal precedent allowing others to do so.
Already, the Congregation for Divine Worship has, apparently, indicated privately that a bishop can wash women's feet if he feels a pastoral exception should be made. At least, that's what Cardinal O'Malley indicated he was told when he asked them about the subject (see here for more info).
51. The washing of the feet of chosen men which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the service and charity of Christ, who came "not to be served, but to serve." This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained.
This indicates that we should understand that this rite "represents the service and charity of Christ"--
Remember how Christ talked to the Samritan woman? Was that acceptable in his day? Yet, he did it anyway to evangelize her.
Holy Thursday Ping!
There are only two laws:
1) Love God.
2) Love your neighbor.
I would say that this falls under Rule #2.
I’m not Catholic but I sure wish I could see more Christian behavior like this among my Christian brethren.
I’m not saying that we all need to wash the feet of inmates, only that we could all stand to be better Christians.
Excellent point. I think they were talking about the church guidelines, though.
Pope Francis is washing a mother's feet in the photo who is also holding a baby.
Why would anyone have a problem with that?
In Jesus's time a host would wash his guest's feet as a sign of hospitality because the guest would have traveled a long way on dusty roads.
Today, all of those people don't really need their feet washed - Francis is symbolically extending a Christ-like hospitality. That's all.
Perhaps we have a model here in Pope Francis.
Did Jesus talk with the Samritan woman? Yes, even though it was not acceptable in those days to do so.
His motive — love for all evangelization
At the last supper Jesus washing of “the Disciples” feet, in content with the passage....was emphasize they were to serve one another..(as believers), rather then squabble over who was more significant.
I do think the Pope went too far by kissing the feet as he did...were the individuals believers? Because we can't ignore the fact Jesus washed “the Disciples” feet....not unbelievers...and this to make a bold statement concerning they were to serve one another.
However, this is the first Pope I've found quite interesting... and perhaps he will make a difference within the Catholic faith as he certainly seems to be taking the church to a place where they remember what the family of believers is about. Time will tell....no doubt opposition will follow him.
Yes and it is an important example of how Christ came for the world as we are all sinners. Some Pharisees asked him why he hung out with sinners. He made a point that sick people need a doctor; healthy people do not.
Once faced with a problem of how we could deal with hundreds of thousands of undelivered sample tampons (product samples sent in the mail) I took that question as if it had been delivered by Jesus personally ~ and put some serious thought to it.
We are commanded to visit those in prison ~ whether personally, or to alleviate the conditions of those held there.
That meaning had not been clear to me until faced with this situation ~ hundreds of thousands of undelivered product samples of use to who?
With a little research i found that every prison of any kind in this nation has a charitable group of some kind who make sure appropriate donations get to the prisoners. As those calls started coming in about those samples, I simply directed the callers to contact the warden's office at the nearest prison, or the county sheriff if he ran a jail.
That there were women in need. Many of the people I contacted on the matter ~ starting with Bureau of Prisons in DC ~ advised me that most women's facilities by a one size fits all traditional sanitary napkin ~ and almost never anything more advanced ~ that the only way women prisoners may acquire modern products was from charities, and that almost never happened.
So, there you are folks ~ if you want to do charity directly, find a place housing women prisoners ~ donate tampons.
Over the years those calls didn't stop coming and i found myself answering the question of what to do with those samples for 20 years.
I heartily approve of the Pope's washing of the feet and his visit to prison ~ all of us can follow up with charitable giving to those imprisoned.
I dunno, maybe because the rubrics of the liturgy specify viri ("men", as in "adult male humans," not homines, human beings of unspecified gender), and when the chief executive ignores the rulebook and does his own thing (Barack Hussein Obama, call your office), it sets a bad example?
The persons whose feet are being washed are supposed to represent the Apostles, not generic "people in need". The Apostles were all men, and the fact that the Apostles were all men is usually cited as part of the rationale for an all-male priesthood.
I give my samples to the St. Vincent de Paul Society at my church. When they go to visit a new family (usually to deliver a table and chairs or some other furniture) they check the kitchen and the bathroom.
Do they have soap to wash dishes?
Do they have toilet paper in the bathroom?
After finding out that they made these checks I also starting buying a case of TP for them. Sometimes we don’t think about these simple necessities — or rather — take our own supply for granted.
To my eyes, this wasn't the historical moment for Pope Francis's gesture, which comes across as very 1970s. Whatever the Holy Father's motives, it will be interpreted by Catholic men as more evidence that they have no special purpose. It will be used by Christ's enemies (inside and outside the Church) to convince more confused people that Christ's humanity and the priesthood are meaningless. I pray that in the long run, this act of the Pope's will be become part of a great victory for which I can't see the outlines. But to my limited vision now, it looks like an invasion of Russia in the winter.
I just wrote an email to someone encouraging the men in his group to step forward and do these things.
I believe it will happen. And I understand the pain. I had my feet washed once by my priest, and I decided this year, that if I were to be asked, I would recommend a man that was sitting in another pew.
I think we need to do this.
'I do this with my heart,' Pope says before washing inmates' feet
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Until fairly recently, the foot washing was only done by the bishops to 12 priests at the bishop’s Chrism mass. This was to symbolize humility.
After Vatican II, the practice was extended to parishes. Probably because of the possibility of scandal (Father washing the feet of some attractive woman, for example), in 1980 it was provided that the parish-level washees, so to speak, should be viri, that is, men.
So this is not an ancient tradition and the restriction to males is fairly recent and was purely practical, not symbolic or laden with meaning. A person who has his or her feet washed is not thereby considered a successor to the Apostles or a candidate for the priesthood, but simply a humble person to whom a person more important in worldly terms is deferring and showing that what is really important is to use one’s abilities and position to serve others and not to lord it over them. It has nothing to do with ordination.
A couple were believers in Allah (Muslim definition; not Mideast Christian), we've been told.
But, alas, one has to pick one's battles, and this episode is 0.000001 percent as troubling to me as the existence of the NO itself, somewhat like a pimple on a huge skin tumor -- who cares?
Haven’t looked up your answers, but it is perfectly permissible in my Diocese (Milwaukee) for the priests to wash a woman’s feet. They ask for volunteers every year.
So, more men need to volunteer. Come on, guys!
New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Washes His Disciples Feet
13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, Lord, are you going to wash my feet?
7 Jesus replied, You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.
8 No, said Peter, you shall never wash my feet.
Jesus answered, Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.
9 Then, Lord, Simon Peter replied, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!
10 Jesus answered, Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you. 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. Do you understand what I have done for you? he asked them. 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one anothers feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
“Why would anyone have a problem with that?”
It’s one thing to give money ~ anyone can do that, but giving of your time and your mind is another ~ those are gifts that one may have but not others ~ thinking of the needs of the poor is very important.
Well it’s obvious from the hits on these threads and the news stations covering it worldwide..that many DO care how the Representative of their faith goes about representing them.
Anyone who has international interest is going to be critiqued....particularly concerning most mainline religions and their leadership.
Yes, including me and virtually everyone on these threads.
I can see both sides of it -- the 'slippery slope' possibility as viewed by the traditionalists (potentially leading to arbitrary changes in rubrics); the 'emulate Jesus' side as seen by others (needs little explanation). I don't have the background to characterize the two points of view in more formal ecclesiastic terms.
In any case, please have a Blessed Easter!
Perhaps the model should be Christ, instead of the Pope. It is not some super-human feat that the pope performed, but something that any Christian should feel no hesitation to do in regard to his fellow man—that is serving others.
He showed us what humility and character look like, obama has neither.....
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the 'slippery slope' possibility as viewed by the traditionalists (potentially leading to arbitrary changes in or ignoring of rubrics);
well... ultimately believers need to go about the business of who Christ is in the minds and hearts of all people. For without that questioned answered all else has no relevance when all is said and done.
Proclaiming ‘He’s Risen”..is the ultimate victory past, present and future....and for that all men have hope.
I just call it political correctness and posturing, I may be wrong. All this does is give the other side justification to start the polemic of women priests. IMHO
I remember in past FR threads people quoting the Sacramentary instructions for Holy Thursday and the definition of the word Vir and so on, I guess it’s a moot topic now.
vir and viri = men
I really encourage all men to step forward next Holy Thursday evening and volunteer to be one of the twelve washed by your priest.
Don’t hang back.
I didn’t post that as any type of authority for the exclusion of women. I was just posting what Jesus did and said about washing feet in general.
Good take! People are getting FAR too caught up in the externals and forgetting the HEART of Christ! Jesus was often talked about in the same ways because of His actions.
We should never forget that.
I think Pope Francis can give permission to wash women’s feet the same way Blessed John Paul II gave permission for female altar servers. I wish he had changed the law before he did this, though. I fear this is going to stoke false hope among the women’s ordination crowd. I used to write letters to the appropriate church authorities in the early 90s about liturgical abuses. I hope Pope Francis’ action won’t stoke a number of Catholic priests and liturgical people to say: We’ll celebrate Mass anyway we want.
I really encourage all men to step forward next Holy Thursday evening and volunteer to be one of the twelve washed by your priest. >>
Yes, let the Holy Spirit be their guide and if so a little nudge too.
No offense taken. Just clarifying my own meaning. : )
I don't agree. Jesus specifically said that the apostles were to do this for others; He didn't say just for other men. This was to show that they are to be servants, not masters.
This wasn't the same as Jesus sending the Apostles out on the Great Commission, to preach the Gospel, and consecrate the bread and wine to become His Body and Blood. THAT was the institution of the priesthood, and for that he did choose just men.
I think the tricky thing would be giving time, rather than money (or better yet, both). I get lazy and think it easier for me to give money rather than my time
An interesting view on this can be found at:
You sound remarkably like a Pharisee