Pope Francis Washes Feet of Young Inmates, Including Two Young Women

I would guess that the feet washing controversy is settled now.

It appears that Jesus meant the priesthood is to serve all human beings. Or, at least, that’s the message I take away from the simple act that Pope Francis performed at the Casal del Marmo today.

After delivering what sounds like a very clear homily in which he explained the meaning of what he was about to do, he washed the feet of 12 young inmates, two of them female and two Muslims. “I do this with my heart,” he told them before washing their feet.

This reminds me of a line from the movie The Quiet Man in which the bride asked one of her friends, “What manner of man have I married?”

“I’m thinking a far better man than you know, Mary Kate,” the friend answered.

I believe that Pope Francis is a far better man than many of us know.

As for the inclusion of women in today’s foot washing, all I can say is Thank you Papa. 

I. Am. So. Glad. 

From NBC News, (emphases mine):

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ROME – Since he was elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has proved many times over that he wants to break away from clerical privilege, come down from St. Peter’s throne and act as a humble servant of the faithful.

And on Holy Thursday he reinforced the idea that he will champion social outcasts and the poor by washing the feet of a dozen young inmates in a juvenile detention center …

… The group of 12 young people who had their feet washed and kissed by the pope included two young women – the first time a pope included females in the rite. The ceremony has traditionally been limited to men, since all of Jesus’ apostles were men.

The young people were aged between 16 and 21 and chosen from different nationalities and religious backgrounds – including two Muslims, according to a Vatican spokesman.   

“It is a gesture of humility and service,” Father Tom Rosica, a Vatican Press Office spokesperson, said before the ceremony.

It teaches that liberation and new life are won not in presiding over multitudes from royal thrones nor by the quantity of bloody sacrifices offered on temple altars, but by walking with the lowly and poor and serving them as a foot-washer along the journey,” he added …

…Speaking to about 1,600 priests who packed St. Peter’s Basilica for Mass on Thursday morning, Francis talked about the need to concentrate on the people they are ministering to.

“We need to go out, then, in order to experience our own anointing (as priests)… to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters,” he said. (Read the rest here.)

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  • pagansister

    He seems to be a man who will continue to break with some of the traditions of the Church—one being the inclusion of the women today in the foot washing. And to bring up once again, what I find just fun to mention—his choice to continue wearing black shoes……at least at the moment. :-)

  • Dave

    Quite obviously, the priesthood is meant to serve all human beings. There was never any doubt about that, regardless of whether the foot washing ceremony is/was reserved to men in re-enactment of the actual Last Supper.

    Also, clearly, the Pope has the authority to change the liturgy, and by his actions today he has done so, such that the foot washing is no longer so much a re-enactment of Jesus’ actions, but a symbol of how to translate Jesus’ actions in our own circumstances.

    I really don’t think, for the vast majority of people, that they didn’t want to see women’s feet washed because of the fact that they were women. Rather, they were against it because it was disobedient.

  • Rebecca Hamilton

    Note: This is a Catholic blog. Comments attacking the Holy Father are always deleted.

    • vox borealis

      I think that my comment was deleted, but I certainly did not mean to criticize the Pope, who is (I am sure) a holy man and naturally our spiritually father. However, I hope that the pope’s policies (we are not talking ex cathedra pronouncements) can be criticized, or at least discussed critically. I truly believe that some of Francis’ decisions, while undoubtedly well intentioned, will yield perhaps unfortunate results.

  • FW Ken

    There is a legitimate discussion to be had about the propriety of violating the rubrics, especially after a generation of do-it-yourself liturgy.

    But the incredible beauty of the act should be the initial point of interest. First, to go to prisoners is a singular act of witness. Washing the feet of Muslim youth bears witness bumped up to another level altogether: these kids are beloved of God; Jesus died for them, irregardless of whether they know Him or not.

  • pagansister

    HAPPY EASTER, REBECCA and all who post here!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Pagansister. Happy Easter to you!

      • pagansister

        Thank You Rebecca.

  • Rebecca Hamilton

    2nd Note: No more posts with links to self-annointed internet magisteriums claiming to prove that the Pope is either not Catholic enough (I always thought “more Catholic than the Pope” was a joke until now) or that the wonderful thing he did for women today was just his own little thing which, in righteousness, must be ignored.
    These are the holiest days of the year. Give it a rest.

    • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

      Was that about Jimmy Akin’s article that I posted? Jimmy Akin is about as solid as you can get.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        Dave, it’s Good Friday. We have all the rest of our lives to talk about these things. Let’s wait.

        No. It wasn’t about that article.

  • CathyLouise

    Rebecca, I really enjoy your blog, it’s probably my favorite. May you have a blessed Easter with your family. And thank you for your service to our country. The people of Oklahoma are indeed fortunate to have you serve them!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Cathy Louise. Have a blessed Easter.

  • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com Jessica Hoff

    Thank you for posting this Rebeccas, and may you have a holy and blessed Easter.

    Those who go on about the actions of the Holy Father here may care to ask what Jesus would have done, and who they sound like.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Jessica. Blessings.

  • Irenic

    It gets even better. One of the blessed women is a Serbian Muslim, the other an Italian Catholic. Love it.

    • Theodore Seeber

      And given that they’re both incarcerated; one can assume both are in need of mercy and conversion. Let this act of mercy become a reason for conversion.

  • abb3w

    Calling it “settled” seems overly optimistic.

    That the washing of feet may (at least sometimes) be performed on women is authoritatively settled. What degree of symbolic significance attaches to it, however, almost certainly has a lot of screaming still to go.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Not on this blog.

      • abb3w

        Your moderation policies would indeed appear likely to minimize the presence of such vociferous debates here.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          I encourage intelligent and civil discussion. However, the purpose of this blog is to further Christianity.

          • Yae

            God bless you and yours this fine Easter Monday! He is risen alleluia! Thank you for being kind and fair and for your blog which is a place of rest after so much negative commentary.