Skip to comments.Thank you, Pope Francis! / Have we entered an age of a new gnosticism?
Posted on 03/30/2013 11:39:36 AM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
In two weeks Pope Francis has done more to promote Summorum Pontificum than Pope Benedict did since the day he promulgated it.
After the decision by Pope Francis to wash the feet of two women on Holy Thursday, conservative Catholic priests and laypeople alike will now be looking for ways out of the dilemma posed by the foot washing rite of the Holy Thursday Mass.
The foot washing rite is actually optional, though that fact is little grasped by liberals who impose the options they like as obligatory on those who would prefer to opt out. Liturgical law prescribes that only men (viri in Latin) can be chosen for that rite. Priests who want to adhere to the law will find themselves facing fierce opposition by liberals demanding that women be included. Bishops will be hard-pressed to explain how priests should keep to the liturgical law when the Pope himself flouts it. By including women, the Pope has cast all liturgical laws into the hazard.
Priests who opt to omit the foot washing from Holy Thursday Mass will be seen paradoxically as dissenting from the law that clearly excludes womens feet from being washed. To avoid the dilemma entirely, priests and lay Catholics who wish to see proper liturgical law observed will find a suitable option in the older form of the Roman Rite, the so-called Tridentine form emancipated in 2007 by Pope Benedict.
After Summorum Pontificum went into force, a clarifying document called Universae Ecclesiae was issued to help people interpret correctly how how to implement Pope Benedicts provisions. Universae Ecclesiae says that all customs or liturgical practices not in force in 1962 (such as altars girls, communion in the hand and now, apparently, washing womens feet), are not to be integrated into liturgies in the older form of the Roman Rite. Priests and lay Catholics who want Holy Thursday without dilemmas and controversies and fights about whose feet can be washed, have the legitimate option of the traditional Roman Missal which is, effectively, bullet proof.
Dont kid yourselves. Many priests and lay Catholics are upset by the Popes move and the dilemma this poses at the local level throughout much of the western Church.
War-weary Catholics are back in the trenches, but they now have Summorum Pontificum. And Pope Francis has done more to promote Summorum Pontificum then Pope Benedict ever did.
There is an adage: Qui bene distinguit, bene docet, that is, someone who makes distinctions well, teaches well.
Distinguished canonist Ed Peters makes good distinctions about the Holy Fathers disregard for the Churchs duly promulgated law when he chose to wash the feet of women on Holy Thursday. My emphases and [comments].
Retrospectives on the Mandatum rite controversies
March 29, 2013
Its a very big Church and there are many issues competing for the popes attention. Let me address just that issue I know something about, namely, ecclesiastical law, and try to talk sensibly about it. Ill leave to finer minds the task of situating legal concerns in the wider ecclesial context.
For starters, perhaps Fr. Lombardi was misquoted or taken out of context when he apparently said, the popes decision [to wash the feet of women on Holy Thursday] was absolutely licit for a rite that is not a church sacrament. That remark is confusing because it implies that liceity is a concept that applies only to sacraments; but of course, liceity is an assessment of any actions consistency with applicable law (canon, liturgical, sacramental, etc). One would never limit questions of Mass liceity to, say, the matter used for the Eucharist or the words of institution (that is, the sacrament at Mass) [NB]as if all other rubrics were merely optional. No one understands liceity so narrowly, [ehem... I think some people do.] and so, as I say, we are probably dealing with an incomplete answer.
In any case, I think some conclusions can be drawn about the foot-washing incident already.
[Here is an obvious point that must be made to help liberals sober up a little.] 1. If liturgical law permitted the washing of womens feet at the Mass of the Lords Supper, [then] no one would have noticed the popes doing it. What was newsworthy (apparently, massively newsworthy) is that, precisely because liturgical law does not authorize it, the popes performance of the action was huge news.
2. I and many others have long been open to revising the Mandatum rite so as to permit the washing of womens feet [I am not among them. However, Peters is making a different point...] although I understand that strong symbolic elements are in play and I might be under-appreciating arguments for the retention of the rite as promulgated by Rome. I take no position on that larger issue, it being ultimately a question for experts in other disciplines. My focus is on the law as issued by Rome (c. 838).
[We get to the crux of the canonical issue...] 3. Few people seem able to articulate when a pope is bound by canon law (e.g., when canon law legislates matters of divine or natural law) and when he may ignore it (e.g., c. 378 § 1 on determining the suitability of candidates for the episcopate or appointing an excessive number of papal electors contrary to UDG 33). Those are not hard cases. Most Church laws, however, fall between these two poles and require careful thinking lest confusion fornay, dissension amongthe faithful arise. Exactly as happened here. [In spades!] Now, even in that discussion, the question is not usually whether the pope is bound to comply with the law (he probably is not so bound), but rather [pay attention...], how he can act contrary to the law without implying, especially for others who remain bound by the law but who might well find it equally inconvenient, that inconvenient laws may simply be ignored because, well, because the pope did it. [That, ladies and gents, is the problem. Liberals are going to claim that because of what Francis did, they can do whatever they wish. Indeed, they will claim that others who uphold the clearly written law are wrong to up hold the law. They will, like gnostics, appeal to some vague super-principle which trumps all law (and reason).]
4. A popes ignoring of a law is not an abrogation of the law but, especially where his action reverberated around the world, it seems to render the law moot. [moot - "doubtful, theoretical, meaningless, debatable"] For the sake of good order, then [Peters' own recommendation...], the Mandatum rubrics should be modified to permit the washing of womens feet or, perhaps upon the advice of Scriptural and theological experts, the symbolism of apostolic ministry asserted by some to be contained in the rite should be articulated and the rule reiterated. What is not good is to leave a crystal clear law on the books but show no intention of expecting anyone to follow it. That damages the effectiveness of law across the board.
Get that last point?
What is not good is to leave a crystal clear law on the books but show no intention of expecting anyone to follow it. That damages the effectiveness of law across the board.
This is a huge problem.
Liberals such as Michael Sean Winters, who does not in this matter seem to make distinctions at all, think that Peters and I are obsessively focused on whether or not a bishop or priest can/should wash the feet of women during the Mandatum Rite in the Mass of the Lords Supper. He is wrong. Thats just your usual liberal misappropriation of the situation.
Peters and I are actually concerned about the good order of the Church. A canonist and a man in Holy Orders ought to be. Winters, on the other hand, writes for the paper of record for dissenters and antinomians.
What this foot washing issue does is reveal how vast the gulf is now that divides those who maintain that order, law and reason are necessary in the Church and society and those who, like gnostics who possess secret powers of interpretation of even more secret teachings, apply super-principles which trump lesser matters such as reason, law and order.
The new gnostics (liberals) call upon fairness and feelings. There can be no valid response possible by argument or reason or precedent.
For a long time I have argued that we need a level of liturgical celebration which brings about an encounter with the transcendent, which cuts beyond our (by now) useless linear arguments. People today cant follow a linear argument. You get to the end and they conclude, That might be true for you . Now, however, we may be seeing more clearly, in reactions to what Francis is doing (not necessarily in what Francis is doing), the exaltation of the golden calf of immanence.
Have we entered an age of a new gnosticism, wherein only those who feel a certain way are the true authoritative interpreters?
Posted by Patrick Archbold
Much discussed these last days, the Pope violated the rubrics surrounding the washing of feet.
Also much discussed, the Pope has rejected tradition in multiple other very visible ways.
Also, widely reported is the Pope's commentary that the Church should not be inwardly focused.
It is not my intent here to discuss whether the Pope is right or wrong, authorized or not, to do what he has done. Father Z and Ed Peters do an excellent job of summing this up and I recommend you read it. My concern now is elsewhere.
The Pope's disregard for established law and rubrics coupled with his statements has an effect and I am afraid it is not all good.
I fear that the Pope is inadvertently setting people in the Church against each other.
This is how the Pope's actions are now being framed in the popular mindset:
If you think that law and rubrics are there for a reason, the reason being the order and good of the Church and the faithful, and you are troubled about the violations then you are part of the problem. You are one of the inwardly focused people that the Pope is trying wrest the Church back from. If you think that law, rubrics, and tradition matter, you are the other--you are the problem. You are not humble and simple like the Pope. You are the past.
If, on the other hand, law, rubrics, and majesty in the worship of God have never been your thing, then life is good. The Pope, by example if not by word, is validating your worldview. You have never really cared about such things and have often violated them. The Pope has just shown that, as you always suspected, these things don't really matter, that things like law, rubrics, and majesty hinder evangelization and are simply the products of an inwardly focused Church. You are part of future Church.
But this unfortunately sets the good of the Church against itself, truly a house divided. This division makes its way down to the people. Look how quickly that happened forty years ago.
Is it alright, in the name of simplicity, for a Catholic not to go to Church on Sunday as long as he keeps the day holy in some way? Why not?
If you think that abstaining from meat on Fridays is silly and anachronistic and a sign of an inwardly focused Church, can you dispense with it if you abstain from something with more meaning to you? Why not?
Which laws, rubrics, and traditions still matter? Which are still binding?
But see, if you even ask the question, then you are part of the problem and part of the past.
I don't believe that this is the intent of the Holy Father, but to some degree it is already the result. If Pope Francis continues to show disregard for law, rubrics, and tradition, I fear this dreadful result.
There are many things the Pope can change, law and rubrics among them. If the Pope wishes to change them, he should do so properly. For one thing the Pope cannot change is human nature. Disregard for the law breeds only more disregard for the law.
[Note. I love the Pope and want him to succeed. I think renewed focus on the poor is wonderful and I support it wholeheartedly. But I do not accept, as some would have you believe, that law, rubrics, and tradition must be thrown overboard to achieve this renewed focus on the poor. I don't think the Pope supports this either, but I fear some of his actions give encouragement to those who do.]
This debate is raging everywhere in the Catholic online community. There’s no point ignoring the elephant in the middle of the room when popular commentators such as Fr. Z are even expressing grave concerns.
That which is not forbidden is mandatory.
I must confess that I haven't been paying much attention to all this. For the sake of the willfully ignorant (me), could you briefly describe just what Pope Francis did with the washing of the feet that violated the rubrics, other than washing the feet of women?
Were these all done in the context of the Holy Thursday Mass, or were there events that weren't precisely liturgical where he washed some feet?
This has set the trad world on fire: Pope's foot-wash a final straw for traditionalists
I attend the Novus Ordo mass daily. I attend the TLM almost every Sunday. Honestly, I attend the latter on Sundays not so much because I love the TLM, but because I hate liturgical abuses, and there are none at the TLM.
I don't know what to make of all this.
I can easily disregard the pompous sneering of the crowds at the RorateCaeli blog, but I cannot easily dismiss it when Fr. Z is voicing grave reservations.
Oops, ten boys and two girls, not 8 and 2.
This was the question asked me:
Doesnt Gods Spirit transcend racial, national and geographical boundaries? I think you place God in a small box of your own construct to make a statement like that.
To which I responded and was excoriated for by certain Freepers:
“Well, what percentage of Africa is Roman Catholic? Where are the bulk of Catholics to this day? Its in the Western culture, because that is where it primarily started. If you pick a Latin American or African Pope, you are going to get lots of social justice philosophy mixed in, just wait and see. I dont want to chance it. I want a conservative Western Pope. He can then minister to the whole wide world, including Africa and Latin America and the Orient, but I want the Pope to be a Westerner.
And Im sick to death of political correctness (or in this case, spiritual correctness). Some of you can continue to try to guilt trip me with your PC ecumenical, globalist philosophy by ceding a western church and its spiritual culture to other foreign lands for the Head of the Church, but you wont succeed. And Ill bet a Popes chalice that there are a bunch of readers on this thread that agree with me 100 percent, many of whom may be afraid to admit it though. So sad that it has come to this.”
It looks like I’m being proven right in my first assessment, in particular re the Latin American propensity towards “social justice”. I’m starting to get very bad vibes here. There is such a thing as the ostentatious display of how much one emphasizes ministering to the poor to the exclusion of other aspects of the faith that are also important. And the decorum and majesty of the Church being minimized. I want Pope Benedict XVI back. He realized the mistakes of Vatican II that he had a hand in, and was trying mightily to backtrack on a lot of what came out of it. I’m afraid Pope Francis will not do the same. No emphasis on the Latin Mass is my guess. Oh dear, I so much wanted a traditionalist, and methinks Pope Francis may not fit that mode well at all.
Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:
Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.
I'm a PFI agnostic. I choose to watch and pray. He could turn out to be either and I'm still willing to be pleasantly surprised despite my initial mixed gut impressions. Chances are he's just another Pope, one that will fall squarely between the hopes and fears.
Maybe we really are in the end times but the opposite of what many people think. Maybe the Pope is giving us all (Catholics, Protestants, and Anglicans) one final example of humility and Christ-like action versus holding on to old tradition and obsessing if he uses the right mass or genuflects correctly. Will all of us as a universal Christian church humble ourselves or will we grasp on to tradition?
I’m with you, sitetest. I’d love 3 sentence overviews: 1) this happened 2) Father Z is upset because 3) On the other hand — just to get an overview to hang the details on.
" That the Holy Father, Francis, washed the feet of young men and women on his first Holy Thursday as Pope, should call our minds and hearts to the simple and spontaneous gesture of love, affection, forgiveness and mercy of the Bishop of Rome, more than to legalistic, liturgical or canonical discussions."
Now any lay Catholic who requests priests follow the rubrics of the Mass, instead of some nebulous "Spirit of VII," will just be told, "Hey, I'm just being humble. You know, like Pope Francis. Stop being a Pharisee."
That was not PFI's intention. I do believe his motives were pure and his heart was in the right place. But that will be the effect of this nonetheless.
I saw this yesterday, but figured either you or NYer woud post it.
Yes, I see. And you are right. I read more.
Every good rule admits of exception. Do we ignore where these kids were, or that the girls were as much,i> there</i> and for the same reason as the boys? Or, for the sake of argument, forget that the very first person to Know the Lord in the flesh was a woman, and the first person to see the resurrected Lord was another woman, both named Mary? Feminists, who paradoxically disregard the Mother and try to exault the follower by making her a camp follower, or maybe wife of Jesus, miss the mark, because they are interested in POWER—power above all, so that service—which is what we ought to be about— falls into the shadows. The pope seems to be telling us: Hey, we ought not to be caught up in the power games. Not power over people, not power over nature. And what is disgusting about liberalism is —yes it ignores law, it ignore the right order of things—but for it, it is foolishness. We cannot be taking thought increase our height by an inch. Even by going to the moon, that is less than an inch measured against the Milky Way, whichis itself an inched measured against creation.
Yes, this sums up exactly my concern with what he did. You just know there are people out there who now think they can disregard any of the laws of the Church because Francis did it. "So what? He did it, why can't I?"
The result is going to be chaos.
“Every good rule admits of exception.”
Really, now? What exceptions do you hold to each of the Ten Commandments? I am most interested in your exception to the 7th Commandment.
As a non-catholic I don’t understand. Would someone in simple english explain what all the hubbubs about?
Declaring Moslems to be "brothers and sisters" renders the whole Catholic Church moot. What part of "I am the Lord your God, and before me thou shalt have no other gods" does Francis not get.
Surely Pope Francis knew he was violating church rubrics when he did it. I hardly see this as a naive error.
You know who else consistently violated religious rules? Jesus. I am a cradle practical Catholic, but I have enough Protestant blood in me to approve of Pope Francis wanting to stip the Church of many unnecessary trappings and traditions. Ermine stolls, gold pectoral crosses, and a rule prohbiting washing the feet of women on Holy Thursday are not in any way necessary to the mission of the Church.
Are the TenCommandments,rules? I am talking about positive human law. And canon law generally falls into this category.
There’s no excuse for “willfully ignorant”.
No, Robby. The Ten Commandments are just suggestions.
They are our brothers and sisters but not because they are Muslims.
With all due respect to canon law, the Ten Commandments are somewhat more axiomatic.
The appearance that Church rules and canon law are "Good enough for thee, but not for me." If the pope need not obey Church rules, why should any of us? If the pope can make the rubrics moot, why not your humble village pastor? If the pope can arbitrarily make up the rules as he goes along, why not the pro-choice pols and the LGBT crowd?
This has real implications in a world that rejects God and His rules.
Maybe its much ado about nothing. Maybe its Pharisaical.
But Christ said, "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
How is any given faithful Catholic to know which things the Church binds on earth can be arbitrarily ignored, and which are important? In an age when Catholics are so poorly catechized after 50 years of the "Spirit of VII," this type of action increases the confusion and gives a green light to dissent and liturgical abuse.
Canon (Church law) prohbits the washing of women’s feet as part of the Holy Thursday service on the basis that Jesus only washed the feet of the Apostles, who were all men. This also relates the the Church law that only men can become priests.
This rule, however, is not dogma - such as belief in the Triune God, eg. and the Pope has the right to change the Holy Thursday rule. Instead of opennly changing the law, Pope Francis just ignored it. Some people believe that this means Pope Francis is open to women priests or deacons. Others are upset b/c they think that rather than breaking the law, Pope Francis just should have changed it as it may invite other breaches of canon law.
I understand about the ladyfolk. Are there other aspects of this story that involve Pope Francis violating other rubrics or canons? I'm not talking about traditions (conducting the Mass outside of a church, etc.).
Not that I'm aware.
That's all fine, but stripping unnecessary trappings is not comparable with breaking Church law. It's sends a bad signal to 1.2 billion Catholics implying that they don't have to follow Church law, and makes him a terrible role model for priests.
To be largely “willfully ignorant” of an event in the news is not something for which some needs to be excused.
Regarding Pope Francis, I’ve decided to intentionally not to pay too close attention to his actions and words for now. He’s new in his position. I might actually wait a whole month or something before I get ready to put him under a microscope and jump down his throat for misdeeds, real or imagined.
>By including women, the Pope has cast all liturgical laws into the hazard.<
Although The Passion of Our Lord is the Gospel, it was sung by a woman in our church. Needless to say that she is neither a priest nor deacon.
I must admit, she has a fabulous voice and did a fantastic job.
I hope you can help me out with this.
Abortion is not wrong because the Church says so, correct? The Church says so because it is wrong.
Washing girl’s feet is wrong because the Church says so. But in this case, the Church does not say so because it violates the natural law, or even that it violates the deposit of faith, correct? It’s a man-made rule, which existed at one time for a purpose, and which Christ’s vicar may do with as he pleases, no?
The Pope could not - cannot - proclaim that abortion is OK, or that women can be priests.
But as to what priests should wear, or whose feet are washed - those are things he may decide at his pleasure, are they not?
John Paul I only got 33 days.
That gets to the heart of the matter.
I was a protestant for 60 years, and while I confess that I believe all the truths that the Catholic church teaches, there is much I do not understand. I still have protestant reflexes.
How is any faithful Catholic to know which things the Church binds on Earth can be arbitrarily ignored?
I suppose the answer is, "none of them". But how you approach a font containing Holy Water and whether or not you can dismember infants in the womb are not at all the same thing.
Rubrics and customs are proclaimed by Christ's vicar to encourage the faithful. They are entirely invented out of human ingenuity, they have changed many times, and will do so again.
The commands of the natural law, expressed both as revelation and exegesis of scripture, are invariant. They never change, nor can they change.
Your "faithful Catholic" should have learned the difference by third grade.
I agree with you that, especially in America, there are adult Catholics who do not know the difference. There are even seminary graduates who apparently feel that varying a liturgical custom and murdering the innocence of a little boy are of the same order of importance.
But there is a difference, and the difference is very important.
You obviously understand this distinction, but many Catholics do not.
Here's an example:
We oppose abortion because its a violation of natural law. Its always intrinsically evil.
But now our bishops tell us to be truly "pro-life," we must also oppose capital punishment. Why? Well, most would assume we must lump capital punishment alongside abortion in the pro-life world because capital punishment must be intrinsically evil, a violation of natural law. But guess what? Capital punishment is not intrinsically evil. Its just a prudential decision of our Pope JPII that we should oppose capital punishment, its not intrinsically evil, its not a violation of natural law. Never was, is not now, cannot be.
Confusing, isn't it? So is it prudent to lump opposition to capital punishment alongside opposition to abortion, when one is a intrinsically evil and one isn't, and very few if any Catholics grasp the difference, let alone care?
Most Catholics don't make or understand these fine distinctions, they just figure, heck, if the Church can say something is evil today, i.e., capital punishment, that in the past she said was perfectly acceptable, then all things are up for grabs, including things that once were always taught as evil becoming acceptable, like usury, or birth control, or gay marriage.
If we can eat meat on Fridays now, but we couldn't before, why can't we have women priests now, which we couldn't before?
If the pope can disregard the rules for washing women's feet without first changing the law, why can't a bishop ordain women without first having the law changed?
Catholics don't understand these distinctions any more, so the Pope's making rubrics moot sets up anarchy and confusion.
He might not intend that, but there it is nonetheless.
Have you read Ludwig Ott’s “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma”? It’s a wonderful reference.
It contains a breakdown of the different levels of teaching authority, which clarified things greatly for me.
Of course he can. But many Catholics are uncomfortable waking up each morning, checking Father Z's site or whatever, and/or finding out by accident what rubrics changed overnight. Is it too much to ask for a statement or direction if more liberalizations are planned? Normally rubrics are solid and unchanging over periods of many years. Have we now entered a era of rapid changes to accommodate a rapidly changing world? I sure hope not. This would be anathema to an orthodox Catholic.
But there is a difference, and the difference is very important.
Sounds like we're on the same page in this regard.
Which is wise and prudent, and something I too had planned on doing until this current issue arose two days ago.
I'm trying to work through it myself, and a lot of folks I know personally are really frustrated by this and having a hard time sorting it out. If even Fr. Z is flustered by these developments, I don't feel so bad for being flustered.
As I said earlier, I attend the Novus Ordo mass daily. I attend the TLM almost every Sunday. Honestly, I attend the latter on Sundays not so much because I love the TLM, but because I hate liturgical abuse, and there are none at the TLM.
To see our Pope ignore the rubrics is to my sensibilities very troubling.
“If we can eat meat on Fridays now, but we couldn't before, why can't we have women priests now, which we couldn't before?”
My own late mother found it difficult to make the distinction. She was pro-abortion for many years, probably pro-contraception to her death (although at 77, the practical aspect of her belief had long since faded into irrelevancy), and she'd often justify these false beliefs by declaring, “Well, if the Church could change the prohibition against meat on Fridays...”
But she grew up dirt poor in the Italian ghetto in the first half of the 20th century, taught by Irish priests who looked down on their charges, thinking them incapable of understanding the finer points of Catholic teaching. It was news to her when I'd try to explain the difference between dogma, doctrine, and discipline.
She knew how to feel like a Catholic, how to act like a Catholic, but never how to think, how to reason as a Catholic. I think that's in part because of the execrable catechesis that is generally provided by the Church in most times, in most places, and in part because we live in a society to which a Catholic way of thinking is alien.
—— Peters and I are actually concerned about the good order of the Church. A canonist and a man in Holy Orders ought to be. Winters, on the other hand, writes for the paper of record for dissenters and antinomians.
What this foot washing issue does is reveal how vast the gulf is now that divides those who maintain that order, law and reason are necessary in the Church and society and those who, like gnostics who possess secret powers of interpretation of even more secret teachings, apply super-principles which trump lesser matters such as reason, law and order. ——
This perfectly expresses the problem.
The spirit of disobedience that has bedeviled the Church since Vatican II has been reawakened with one simple act.
I sense an monumental pastoral error.
With respect to all, I don’t think this violates Canon Law. If it does, where is the appropriate citation?
Secondly, a local ordinary has pretty broad discretion on the application of various rules concerning both the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, as well as keeping/not keeping of certain feast days/fasts (e.g. St. Patrick’s Day during Lent), etc.
So, did Pope Francis take latitude in a ritual? It would appear. Is this one case the big deal others are making it? I’m not so sure, but could be wrong.
Wow the Catholics who are objecting to the feet cleaning sound like the Pharisees who objected to Jesus’ disobeying of the jewish law. When your laws get in the way of the beautiful thing the Pope did, you and your laws have issues.
Not quite. It is not wrong for you, me, or any priest, or the pope to kneel and wash anyone's feet as a sign of service we owe all others. Well, so long as the person whose feet are being washed consents, and the parent consents, and it is understood correctly as a symbol of humble service and not some flirty thing.
The only possible wrong here is purely skewing of the rubrics. The rubrics say "wash the feet of select men (viri)" and the pope washed the feet of men and then also washed the feet of select women, instead of proceeding to the next rubric straight way.
In other words, he improvised a bit in a rite that itself is not very old: it dates, correct me if I am wrong, to 1955. And he is not any priest but the pope. Legalistically, it is not a big deal; I would hesitate to call it abuse of liturgy. Any priest that would take this example and, in what would be true abuse, ad-lib through the Eucharistic prayer would be a complete fool. Yes, we have such fools, but we can't allow their obtuseness limit good priests, which our pope certainly is.
A greater concern that I see is not legalistic but theological. Christ washed His disciples' feet in order to prepare them specifically for priestly service, not generally for a life of charity. The former understanding necessitates them being men because priests are all men. The latter understanding is novel, and does not fit the narrative of the Last Supper. That is a problem for me.
I sense an monumental pastoral error.
Fortunately, the Vatican monitors these discussions now and takes them into consideration. They read the blogs, more than most people realize. I know this from my own statcounter account and from talking to other bloggers.
The controversy forced Fr. Lombardi to address this scandal. That's a good thing. They're listening, they know this stirred up a hornet's nest, and hopefully this will be related to Pope Francis and he will realize this kind of action has real world consequences.
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