Washing Women’s Feet?

Today Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve detainees in a youth detention center. Two of them were female.

Last year I wrote this post explaining why the rubrics call for men to have their feet washed. Jimmy Akin explicates the texts and offers an excellent commentary here.

What are we to make of the Holy Father disregarding the rubrics which call for “selected men” to have their feet washed, and what does his washing feet of females say about the link between the foot washing and the apostolic ministry?

Jimmy  Akin points out that the church documents don’t actually link the foot washing with the apostolic ministry, although that is one level of symbolism. Instead it states that the foot washing is primarily a sign of service.

Clearly, the Holy Father wishes to emphasize this symbolic aspect of foot washing more than the link with the apostolic ministry. At the heart of the symbolism of foot washing are the Lord’s words, “I have not come to be served, but to serve.” and “The greatest among you must be the slave of the least.” By taking a step to the lowest of the low in society and washing their feet he is emphasizing the heart of the ceremony–at the expense of the other rich symbolism of Holy Thursday.

What do I make of it? It’s okay. He’s the Pope. I’m concerned that his willingness to disregard the rubrics may give the wrong signal and give carte blanche to every other priest who wants to use the liturgy to make a personal point. I personally wish he had found a way to combine all the elements of this rich symbolism together–maybe by choosing to wash the feet of selected priests and brothers who spend their lives serving the poor. He would thereby have also re-emphasized his role as “the servant of the servants of God”. By doing this within his basilica of St John Lateran (I know he hasn’t yet taken possession of it) he would also be showing through rich and traditional symbolism, the role of the Bishop of Rome as the servant of the poor by washing the feet of those priest members of the Body of Christ who serve the poorest of the poor.

On the other hand, by taking a radical step and washing the feet of poor young prisoners–women as well as men–he not only reminds us of the radical nature of the symbol, but also the unexpected and sometimes upsetting example of the Lord himself–who upset some religious traditions in order to make a point.

In the gospel Jesus repeatedly flouted some strict rules for a greater good, and so upset the religious legalists. Did the Pope break the rubrics? At the end of the day the rubrics are there to serve the gospel–not the gospel to serve the rubrics.

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  • Michael

    I know, but it still makes me sad, and makes others who do it in a spirit of disobedience think they have carte blanche to do as they please. I understand he’s the pope, and he has my obedience.

  • Karla

    I thought a Pope could not wash womens feet because the apostles were all men

  • Ryan Ellis

    This falsely pits the rubrics against the gospel. The rubrics serve the gospel by giving the rules for the Church to proclaim the gospel through the liturgy. They are not in conflict with the gospel.

    Also, the Pope can violate the rubrics without making a change to law. If he wants to make a change to law, he can. But he’s not doing that here.

    Every liturgical innovator the world over was given their biggest booster shot in decades today. This is a disaster for the liturgical movement.

  • http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com Marcellino D’Ambrosio

    Fr. Dwight, great commentary on the Holy Father’s choice here. Very balanced. What is important to ask what is he teaching here? And how does that relate to what Jesus was teaching on the night before he died.

  • stewart m. schwartz

    “What do I make of it? It’s okay. ” i’m so happy you approve

  • Kasey

    What of the Muslims, Father?

  • Catholic

    The Holy Father does not answer to you, Fr. Longenecker. You’d be wise to remember that.

  • Robert

    If one takes Sacrosanctum Concilium seriously; the Holy Father as the Bishop of Rome and the Chief Liturgist not only for that Diocese but also for the Church… one may conclude that if the Chief Liturgist chooses to ignore the liturgical rubrics, then he is sadly setting the example that could be followed by all other bishops and priests – ignore the rubrics for a “higher cause”. If this is the pattern he is setting, I fear we’re back to the 1960′s-70′s with clown Masses and pizza and beer instead of break and wine – as long as the “innovations” (deviations from the rubrics) serve a perceived “higher cause”.

  • Heber

    I think when viewed through the lens of Joshua chapter 3, the footwashing of 12 men makes a lot more sense. It ties it to Baptism, it ties it to the 12 tribes, it ties it to the priesthood (soles of their feet in the water!), it ties it to entering the promised land, it ties to God condescending to human nature so as to exalt it. It ties it to the fact that God is about to do something truly glorious (the death and resurrection of Christ, the opening of the Gates of Heaven). There is a lot more to the washing of feet than just a simple act of service. It is a mystery in and of itself and it is not surprising that the great theologian evangelist St. John took special note of it. I think some of the symbolism that is lost when it is not done for 12 priests is it’s connection to the institution of the priesthood and the fact that they are to model Christ’s condescension in their own ministries in order to raise up (exalt) His flock. I think the other connection that is lost is the sacrificial nature of the washing of feet. It is Christ making us clean. It is pointing ahead to the sacrifice on the Cross by which we will be made clean by His Blood, by which we will be raised up with Him, glorified with Him. This act continues to this day through the Holy Priesthood, through the daily offering of the Mass and the other Sacraments through which heaven condescends and mankind is raised up. Did the Pope do this today in some way? Surely. He condescended to exalt in the manner of Christ. This probably had a very profound effect on the lives of these people. Perhaps they will have real conversion. However, I really do think something is lost when this condescension/exaltation is not tied to the sacrificial nature of the priesthood in some way.

  • Gregg

    Does it matter that he washed their feet outside a church, but in a jail? Would rubrics apply?

  • Carol

    There is no excuse for this and none should be given. We all know the ramifications to his public witness to his own disobedience.

    This is beginning to look like a show of self love in the name of humility.

    We must wait for his appointments before we form any convictions but so far, his judgment is starting to smell of a wreckovator.

  • Eugenia

    Key words, Michael, of what you posted is “spirit of disobedience.” Disobedient Catholics whether a priest or in the pew don’t look to the Holy Father for guidance. They’re their own popes. And they’re going to do what they do anyway.

  • leslie

    Agreed, it makes me sad, too. I’ll be obedient — but I for one like the “trappings” of the Holy Father — his residence, traditional places that Mass is presided over — leading by example is not necessarily wrong nor is it always right!!

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    It took place in the chapel of the prison.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    The comment about the pope reading my blog was with tongue firmly in cheek.

  • Cindy Coleman

    As with so many things, it comes down to understanding based in catechesis. How many Catholics in the pews understand the link btw the washing of the feet at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the institution of the priesthood? Not many is my guess. I know I didn’t get it for a long time and in the world of lay Catholics I have studied more than most. Teaching parish religious education for years has forced me to expand my understanding when I am called to teach to the children. In my ideal, I suppose, in every parish the pastor would explain in the homily why the feet of 12 men are washed. Especially at this moment in the life of the Church, I feel we need to reinforce, recognize and even honor the vocation of our many faithful priests, whose commitment and ministry have been stained by the evil of a very few.

    Our liturgies, especially the Triduum are soooo rich. We need to do our best to catechize all members of the Body as to what they are partaking in. Pope Francis, celebrating his first Easter as Pontiff, especially has the eyes of the world on him. I will trust in him and the Holy Spirit that he knows what he was doing in prayerful reflection. Thank you, Father Longnecker, for your reflection and not condemning him out of hand.

  • Anne

    I appreciate your kindness toward the Holy Father, but this is a sad thing to watch. Yes, we’ve always had priests who loved innovation – they were disobedient to Rome. But when Rome improvises? The fall out from this is anybody’s guess. I feel especially sad for faithful priests who hold fast to doctrine in the face of an incredibly hostile culture. They may have ’70′s mindset’ bishops, but they could always look to the Holy Father…

  • Deacon Rick

    Thank you for giving the most insightful comment to Fr. Dwight’s commentary. Pope Francis gave us much to learn from by his actions today.

  • Tabitha Raised

    As a single woman I would not want a strange man to kiss my feet. I won’t even dance with a strange man or hold hands with a man at Mass or let a man put make-up on me at the counter. In today’s culture it is hard to seperate chaste touching from intimate touching because it has all become so disordered through evil sexual images. If I had a cleaner mind it probably wouldn’t bother me, but my mind does not just mirror Christ, it still mirrors what I have seen in the world, too. I don’t know what those two young women thought of it. People are in different places psychologically. But, I know decorum is behind the rubics, too.

  • vox borealis

    I agree. And I am coming to see where this is going in the years to come. And it doesn’t necessarily make me joyful.

  • http://fromthepulpitofmylife.blogspot.com/ Ruth Ann

    If I have to read criticisms about the Holy Father, like these, I need to quite reading these blogs.

  • http://fromthepulpitofmylife.blogspot.com/ Ruth Ann

    quit, not quite

  • Catherine Alexander

    Karla, Jimmy Akin explores this further in his article, to which Father L. has provided a link.

  • rd

    it seems like the fear and concern is not out of what WE or I might do, but with what others less perfect than ourselves may do. how about we all pray for greater faithfulness within ourselves first? it’s Holy Week, after all.

  • wineinthewater

    But disobedient Catholics do look for justification and cover anywhere they can find it. No need to help them out.

  • wineinthewater

    While the rubrics aren’t set against the Gospel, I do think that it is possible for the rubrics to fail to engender the proclamation of the Gospel as much as they could. I’m not saying that this is the case here, but we have to admit that some of our rubrics don’t allow or proscribe enough.

    That said, I have to agree with you that this just gave liturgical innovators a huge boost. I fear that this is a case of the right thing done the wrong way. The Holy Father’s actions would have had more impact if he had changed the rubric instead of defying it.

  • Beefalo

    I’ll become concerned about this the day Pope Francis comes out and says women may be priests because, after all, he washed women’s feet on Holy Thursday. In other words, never! My goodness. I think there are some Catholics who would complain about a violation of the rubrics if Jesus himself came down and washed women’s feet. Certainly, we should be genuinely concerned about dissident priests who would attempt to flout the rubrics and use this rite (or any other) as an excuse to advance dissent, including on the issue of so-called women’s ordination. But there is no evidence that Pope Francis is doing that. Rather, he is providing a terrific display of humility and charity. Let’s take it as just that and use the example of the Vicar of Christ to convert ourselves to greater humility and charity.

  • Ben

    Why is it OK for the pope to violate liturgical rubrics &, in doing so, set a very bad example for priests & bishops? Is he deliberately advocating disobedience to Church law in a era of widespread disobedience on the part of clergy & laity alike? Why take a chance on causing even more harm when Catholics are already walking a tightrope in so many areas? I don’t care if he’s the head of the Church–as such, he’s even more obligated to set the example for all Catholics. Guess it’s OK for me to disobey now as long as it benefits the poor & marginalized, right? I’m following his example. Somehow, I don’t think Jesus would approve of it. One of the holiest days of the year for Catholics & he excludes his fellow Catholics from this Mass. How wonderful!

  • Ben

    I agree with you, Carol. Disobedience is disobedience, no matter who’s doing it. Initially, I was ecstatic when he was elected. I can’t say I’ve been favorably impressed with any of his messages, so far. He seems to have excluded those of us who he sees as “wealthy,” even when that’s not true. Yes, we need to care for the poor & oppressed. But, we cannot overthrow their corrupt governments who are the ones responsible for their poverty. We need God to intervene.

  • http://rannthisthat.blogspot.com RAnn

    I find all the uproar about this interesting. It is generally coming from the same folks who praised B16′s liturgies, including his placement of candles across the front of the altar. The GRIM says “The candles… are to be appropriately placed … and not interfere with the faithful’s clear view of what takes place at the altar or what is placed on it.” In some com box somewhere I noted this and was told that the Pope could lead by example.

  • Richard E

    I think Pope Francis explains his actions in two quotes: from his homily at the Christ Mass: “those who did not live in humility close to the people risked becoming “collectors of antiques or novelties – instead of being shepherds living with ‘the smell of the sheep’”
    And from his homily at the detention center: “And now we will do this ceremony of washing the feet, and we must think. Each one of us must think, ‘Am I really willing to help the other?’ Think only of that and think that this sign is a caress of Jesus, because Jesus came specifically for this: to serve, to help us.”
    In the Gospel’s we have two different times women washing the feet of Jesus. The washing of the feet is a example of service to everyone, and in the early Church there were women who ‘commissioned‘ to serve other women. I’d have to search to find out when the Church instituted the washing of the feet into it’s liturgy for Holy Thursday. During and after the sixth century the washing of the feet almost disappeared from the liturgy, kept alive in monastic settings. the holy king Robert of France, and, later Saint Louis, used to frequently wash the feet of the poor. The holy queen St. Margaret of Scotland, and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary also washed the feet of the poor. At that time were the poor just men or men and women?

  • midwestlady

    Good questions. This is what people should be asking themselves.

  • Kevin

    He’s the Pope, and I shall obey. But I cannot help but think:
    “And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake. “

  • taad

    As Pope Benedict said “One must not just come in as pope and start to make things the way he would like to.” I am really concerned at these changes which are making the previous popes look like evil men. Something is not right.

  • Yae

    ” Thank you, Father Longnecker, for your reflection and not condemning him out of hand.”

    With all due respect, I highly doubt the good father would ever do such a thing as he has a holy fear of the possible consequences that could arise if he ever resorts to such and while we may be entitled to give our respective opinions, some more distasteful than others (just my humble opinion) I cannot get worked up over all the uproar of what our Holy Father did today at that detention Center. I have brothers who have spent time in jail and I already heard that they were moved by such an act. May his actions plant many seeds and bring many to Christ. That is what an evangelist does, right? A voice crying in the wilderness proclaiming Christ crucified?

    I sense he went beyond what the rubrics called for in the hopes of calling those present to everlasting life in Christ Jesus. by his fine example of putting himself at the service of others. As far as “setting an example for others to take advantage” well, I think those who do what they want do so anyway irregardless of what Papa Francis does and may very well continue to do so.

    “He not only reminds us of the radical nature of the symbol, but also the unexpected and sometimes upsetting example of the Lord himself–who upset some religious traditions in order to make a point.”

    Exactly! I for one do not want to miss the still small voice that speaks when such events occur as I want to be converted and transformed as well and since none of us know what the future holds, maybe this will be something he will do every year but then again, maybe it was a one time deal.

    Wishing each and every one of you a blessed and holy Easter!

  • http://cathoolic.com Godwin Delali Adadzie


  • Paul Rodden

    ‘At the end of the day the rubrics are there to serve the gospel–not the gospel to serve the rubrics.’ Yes!

    Our lovely little son is going through the stage where he’s using my own words against me. He’s twigged that he can quote my words back at me, word-for-word, but in a different context where, in his heart-of-hearts, he knows he trying it on because they simply don’t apply in the changed circumstances. These are also the times he has the biggest tantrums.

    Dissenters try this too. They know, even if something’s legitimate, or the wording is ambiguous, how it’s meant to be interpreted, but choose to take advantage in the situation.
    They know in their heart-of-hearts it’s not the right interpretation. They know their proposed action, although legitimate, is immoral when in this or that particular context.

    Their desire is to subvert or find the loophole, just like unscrupulous companies. The problem in the criminal intent. The mindset which desires the fulfillment of its own will above that of the Common Good.

    But, isn’t it the case that we’ve seen the, ‘Say the Black, Do the Red’ principle, used as a weapon, too? I know of a parish where the priest has caused so much rancour and division over his love affair with TLM.

    I think your ‘Mass at Camp’ example in your ‘Worship Straight Up’ article exemplifies an adaptation that’s not an abuse in any way, shape, or form but fits the pastoral circumstances, considering all factors. But it requires an appreciation and appropriation of the context and participants. In short, pastoral sensitivity, and sadly, many at both extremes seem to lack this ability to discern what’s appropriate.

    Those who want to dissent, will. Give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile. They’re adults, despite behaving like our 10 year old. To try to stop it, like any where else, will merely push it underground. They interpret their subversion of ‘the rules’ as their liberation from them. But, I have a hunch they know it doesn’t wash, and that’s why they get so prickly.
    However, we have one effective weapon up our sleeve. Pray for them.

    If I really believed the gates of hell will not prevail, maybe I’d mind my own business and have more time to focus on how I might be a stumbling block for people? And if I don’t see my prayer being answered? Who am I to question God’s providence?

  • Yae

    I wholeheartedly agree…and let’s not forget the liturgical dancers! The day I see that ugliness in St. Peter’s well, then I will really be praying for Papa Francis but guess what? Not gonna happen! So far, I have seen only great reverence and prayer and beautiful hymns with Monsignor Marini at the Pope’s side.
    I watched the Chrism Mass from Rome and was inspired by the beauty of the worship of our Lord Jesus. Amen!

  • D Meyers

    I don’t think he realizes that it is a bad example to priests, that innovations in Liturgy is ok again, because the Pope does it. We’ve had 50 years of wild disobediences by priests. I don’t think the Pope sees his own “blind spots.” And, he has undone conservatives and emboldened liberals. Priesthood is for men. No mention of Mary being at the First Mass. Just Peter needed his feet washed. Maybe the other Apostles had theirs done too. The fact he allowed himself to be photographed doing it – makes it not so humble. IMHO. I’m a poor Catholic. I hate when Catholic Priests or famous Catholics try to showboat their Acts of Charity towards me, then treat me like crap after the Camera’s Are Off! I detest it. It is self aggrandizement. The Pope is not in lovey-dovey Argentina anymore. Frankly; I do not like “touchy feelie” Catholics. I do not like it, being forced on me in Liturgy, since Vatican II. It was never my culture and never will be.

  • http://expatbeesblog.blogspot.com Barbara Lake

    As far as I know the Pope is infallible in only all things that concern the Church and washing of the feet on Holy Thursday is to do with the Church. I have just come from Mass where my parish priest washed the feet of twelve including RCIA candidates which includes women.

    Those of us who follow Father L will know that he is anti women when it comes to some roles within the Church. I have to ask, with all due respect Father, how can you be so when we know that Jesus surrounded himself with women? Of course, there were the twelve men but how could he have performed his ministry had there not been women around him? Who fed him? Who washed his clothes? The disciples?? I think not! I will go as far as to say that I am fast coming to the conclusion that were it not for women, there would not be a Catholic church today. In my part of the world, one only has to look at weekend pews to know it isn’t men who are filling them.

    The washing of the feet is symbolic of the servant and the giving of oneself. Are we not all servants? Including the Pope and the clergy?

  • frjimt

    amen….. these are the very people that need to have the Gospel preached to them by this deed…. enough with the words…. one would think that blood has been spilt….. oh, wait, it has! Jesus’

  • FW Ken

    No one seems interested in his washing the feet of young Muslims. We will probably never know, but I wonder if there will be conversions when people see that the pope values these young lives.

  • annie

    Isn’t anyone concerned that this could led to an international incident? Muslims do not approve of their women having their bare feet washed and kissed in public. Whoever approved this has more potential problems than breaking the rubrics.

  • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ Christian

    Changing stuff on the fly even if it’s ok doesn’t strike this Catholic as the way the Church does things.

  • http://arnobius-of-sicca.blogspot.com Arnobius of Sicca

    Rubrics don’t have to be set against the Gospel, but they can still be in opposition if we hold to disciplines to such an extent that we miss what Christ calls us to do. It is just as possible to be too rigid as to be too lax.

    I won’t accuse anyone, mind you (and apologies if it comes across like I am). But I do think we should all be careful that we don’t make ourselves the norm with which the Pope is judged.

  • Linfs

    A woman washed Jesus’ feet, therefore there is no scriptual violation in a woman washing a man’s feet. I would also surmise from this that there is no violation in a man washing a woman’s feet. I don’t intend to question either the actions of Jesus or my Holy Father in regards to foot washings.

  • Advocate

    I appreciate your comments, Father, but I would feel less distress if I did not have 35 year of experiences with liturgical terrorists riding roughshod over the rubrics in the name of the “Spirit of the Law.” Consider it liturgical PTSD.

    Perhaps Pope Francis comes from a different milieu, and these liturgical matters were not a threat in Argentina the way they were here in the United States. Still, I fear that his actions will embolden others.

    Where does the apostolic/evangelical/radical step stop? Before or after Roman Catholic Wymynpriests? That is what I fear.

    Yes, it is the Pope. But within our memory, we saw the good, faithful, orthodox Pope Paul VI preside over corrupt filth, and one of the manifestations of that corruption was the detriment of the liturgy. We will endure, and I will remain faithful, but I am afraid.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Shall I be slightly insulted that you say I am “anti-women”? It is true that I am opposed to women’s ordination, but that is not my opinion. It is the teaching of the church.

  • David Zelenka

    Us Westerners just don’t get it. The world is a shambles. People’s hearts are a shambles. People are literally walking into Hell. And the church is worried about rules and liturgy! This pope gets it. I have finally had a glimpse of Christ in the higher echelon of the Church.

    The bleeding woman reached out and touched His robe. In our sin, we must be able to reach out and touch Christ Jesus. We can’t let rubrics and rules get in the way of our fallen brothers and sisters as they approach the table–our beloved Christ Jesus.

    Don’t you all get it! This was no symbolic action. The Pope was acting in the stead of Christ and healing and fully cleansing the young Muslim woman. She needed Christ. Christ came to her and served her. It was Christ that washed her feet, not poor Pope Francis. Do you get it?

    Lord God, Thank you for send us your servant Francis. Thank you for sending him as the Vicar of your Son to help us understand how much we all need you and helping us to put our heads on straight. We praise you, Lord Jesus.

  • coop10

    Have to agree with you on this one. I’m so deeply saddened by this action. In my lifetime I have not seen a pope disregard the rubrics in such a manner, and I also believe that it’s a self-conscious display of humility. This really bothers me, but I know that the gates of evil will not prevail upon the Church.

  • worried

    “Clearly, the Holy Father wishes to emphasize this symbolic aspect of foot washing more than the link with the apostolic ministry.”

    Can we be so sure? His dear friend and brother Cardinal, the one who sat next to him in the conclave, reminding him to remember the poor and to promote peace, Cardinal Hummes of Brazil said in an interview with a Brazilian newspaper, that Pope Francis is willing to reconsider women’s ordination and priestly celibacy. Also, Cardinal Kasper, the high profile rival of Pope Benedict XVI on the issue of papal authority, said that women should be deacons. In his very first Angelus as pope, Francis called Kasper a “a clever theologian, a good theologian” and that reading Kasper’s book on mercy, “has done me so much good, so much good”.

    Of course, this could be reading too much into things, but, there it is. What should we make of it?

  • RR

    I think you’re making a big assumption in your interpretation of “clear view of what takes place on the altar.”

    What does or doesn’t constitute a “clear view of what takes place at the altar” is by no means entirely clear, but one point helps: the rubrics also envision that a priest may celebrate ad orientem, and in that regard, we clearly cannot assume that it means things like, “the chalice must be always visible” or, “you must be able to see what the priests hands are doing” — because obviously in an ad orientem instance they wouldn’t be, and yet that is perfectly in accordance with the rubrics.

    The rubric would seem to more general and broad, relating to the general action and movement of the liturgy and not necessarily in the sense of every element/object being entirely and absolutely “unobstructed.” In that regard, it is quite easily arguable that there is nothing contrary to the rubrics in that arrangement of cross and candles.

  • Anna

    I fully admit that I’m not familiar with the rubrics of the Catholic Church, and I do not have any formal theological training. But that being said, I think it’s sad that folks are so strongly against Pope Francis’ BEAUTIFUL and symbolic action of washing the feet of 12 youth (including the 2 females). Perhaps it’s so controversial because this took place during Mass on Holy Thursday as opposed to nearly any other day of the year. I can’t speak to that. I just think it’s a beautiful image that our Holy Father is willing to be where other folks are often afraid to go, hesitant to go, or just flat out don’t have time to go. I really appreciate his image of a humble man who leads a simple life. While I can’t speak to how closely he is or is not following the laws of the Catholic Church, I can say that the love and humility he seems to display is how I want the Church to be seen. It’s that “face” that I want representing our faith to the world and setting an example of living out the most important commandment – to LOVE.

  • Brad

    Shame on you Father! You owe the Holy Father who as the Primate of the Holy Roman Catholic Church and the Successor of Saint Peter your Direct Obedience and Loyalty as a Ordained Priest of the Roman Catholic Church. How long or fast did it take you to come up with this blog or commentary before you dashed to your keyboard to ploy your narcissistic personality and tendencies? As a fellow priest of this Diocese I find your commentary disgusting. Is this some sort of game you are playing?
    As is so true of so many of the former Baptist-Episcopal-Anglican-Catholic clergy who come in to the Roman Catholic Church they try to be more Roman than the Holy Father himself!

  • midwestlady

    This is actually what my take on this was too. Not too concerned over the rubical thing, but I hope this girl doesn’t have a problem later with her family over this.

  • http://www.witnesspath.com Todd

    Disappointed with many of these criticisms of Pope Francis. Didn’t Jesus teach us about the dangers of focusing too much on the law.

  • David Zelenka

    I might have been a bit hyped-up in my last message. As a sliding away from-Protestant-to-Catholic the reason I’ve been approaching the Catholic Church is because I want to be obedient to Christ’s call for unity in his body. We can’t be a schismatic body. So, I approach but am continually amazed by how all the rules (and there are a lot of them) trump the reality of Christ with his people. Shall I name just one: remarried people can’t approach Jesus at the table. Ouch, and I’m not even remarried.

    Christ and his disciples gathered grain to eat in the fields on Sunday because they were hungry. That was not allowed. David ate consecrated bread. That was not allowed. We are all so hungry for God. We must be allowed to eat first. The world can’t wait for the rules and rubrics to get set right. That’s what Pope Francis is saying. There are times that the reality of Christ trumps rules and rubrics.

    No, I’m not a ‘liberal’, at least not in my book.
    - Yes, I believe in a real Hell. As Jesus’ arms and legs, it’s our job to keep others from going there: through prayer like Monica and through words and action like Paul.
    - Yes, I believe men should be priest, not because woman wouldn’t be any good at it, but simply because the tasks of power need to be given to men for a variety of reasons based on sin tendencies within gender.
    - And yes, marriage’s purpose is 2-fold–children and sanctification, why make it something else. That’s what friends are for.
    - And yes, I think Just War doctrine is sound…however, the only just war ever to be is the one that began with the Fall and ends when the Kingdom comes. The only weapon is that one sword that Jesus tells us to carry: our tongue (containing his Word)…Oops, maybe I am a liberal!

    But we need to do what Pope Francis is telling us: get out to the margins and save people. That’s the purpose of the Eucharist. It puts Jesus in us so we can do his work, not so we can sit around and be glad we’re going to the Kingdom. Yes, it will be unimaginably splendid, But now we must get to work.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Did you read the post? I offered a personal opinion, but defended the pope’s actions! Where did you get the idea that I was in any way disloyal or disobedient?

  • Melissa

    As a Protestant who has been seriously questioning what exactly she is protesting I have been watching the Catholics debate their new pope with a deep interest. I know for myself pope Francis has been causing me to ask myself what exactly do I do to share the love of Jesus? With one foot in the door to the Church these debates give me pause. Perhaps I’m better served on the outside of this debate? Do I really want to argue over where candles are placed on an alter when I could be getting off my rear end and just loving people and trying to be more Christ-like? I don’t know. Thank you father longnecker for your blog. Long time reader :)

  • Uomo Senzanome

    I love the Latin mass, sung beautifully, with smells and bells. At the Holy Thursday Novus Ordo mass I attended, in Spanish and English, with the petitionary prayers offered in a multitude of languages including Hindi!, with some jangling bells at he beginning I didn’t quite understand the purpose of — I said to myself, it’s too early for the strepitis of tenebrae, what are they doing? — there were females among those having their feet washed, as there were assisting on the altar. I was perhaps happiest tonight hen the choir sang the last two verses of Pange Lingua in latin rather thn english (and let me tell you, the distribution of the notes across the stllables was clearer and stronger in Latin, no one is exactly sure which sylbles go with which notes in english). But it didn’t bother me, any more than it bothered me that the Holy Father chose to do what he did. Do these “trads” who are freaking out over this forget that Jesus broke the letter of the law when He healed on the sabbath, that He scandalized authority by associating with sinners, with women, with Gentiles? Who are the modern Pharisees He would tell us not to mind? Who are the modern Gentiles He would embrace? He was NOT a rule-bound Mandarin. Tradition is a beautiful thing, but I do not believe He would be a strict constructionist.

  • Thomas Kaiser

    The highest authority of the Church on Earth is not The Rubrics, it is the Supreme Pontiff. It is by virtue of their emanating from the Supreme Pontiff that they derive their authority.

  • Joshua

    Wow – just when the Pope was doing something that gives me hope for the catholic church, I read this blog and find so many catholics condemning it. Look, if you guys think this guy is your leader, then you might do well to actually LEARN from his example rather than sitting in some sort of Pharisee-like judgment over it. This pope may well take all the encrusted religion off you and teach you how to follow Christ. I’m not even catholic, and I’m ready to learn from your pope’s example.
    The whole idea of “washing feet” is for the greater to serve the lesser, and thus even the score. If there is anyone who is “less” in the church it is women. I think Jesus is pleased that your pope lowered himself to serve him, even at the risk of YOUR disapproval of his scandalous obedience to the Spirit of Christ.

  • taad

    So when St. Paul said, whoever eats the Body of Christ unworthily, that is in a state of mortal sin, eats their own condemnation, just as Judas did, how do you reconcile this? If I am living in a state of mortal sin, by having two husbands, since I am divorced, how can I approach the Eucharist? His words are clear.

  • Paul Rodden

    Hi D Myers.
    I don’t particularly like being a Christian. It doesn’t do me any favours. But I do try to love the Lord.

    What you’re expressing is what Dr Bryan Cross calls Ecclesial Consumerism – which is one of the biggest infections within Christianity today: the Church is a consumable.
    he uses Evangelicalism as his example, but I find it just as rife in Catholicism here, in England.

    Is the Pope wrong about what he calls Theological Narcissism? Because that seems very similar to what Bryan Cross is talking about, except from another angle…

  • Paul Rodden

    BTW, the articles are long, but one comment of Cross’ we should take note of:
    One comes to the Church just as one comes to the Apostles, and just as one comes to Christ. Not with lists of requirements and demands that must be met before one will enter and submit. That approach reminds us of some of the ‘ghosts’ in Lewis’s The Great Divorce. Whatever it is that must conform to one’s own judgments before one will submit to it, is something man-made, something beneath and below us. The Church is not only made by God, but more importantly, she is joined to God as His mystical body. She is divine. And for that reason one should expect to find that some of her teachings and practices do not align with one’s own opinions regarding what the Church should be like. One should expect to have to conform oneself to her, not the other way around.”

  • Paul Rodden

    Hi, David.
    I found your posts lovely.
    My heart bled for a non-Catholic remarried man in our parish last night. He’s divorced, but married a Polish Catholic, and I wished he was up there with us.

    They come to Mass every week and yet remain in the pews, not even going up for a blessing, yet he’s never invited to be one of the twelve, despite ‘being more faithful’ to the Church than one of the remarried Catholic men who goes up for communion every week, and is invited to be one of the twelve (my suspicions are that it’s because he’s a big donor, unlike my friend who’s poor).

    But that’s the rough and tumble of the Church, rather like the motley crew Jesus had as disciples when he was on earth…

  • Advocate

    After reading Jimmy Akin on the issue, my heart is more at peace:
    I will bring all of this to prayer during the Stations of the Cross this morning.

  • vox borealis

    My concern with this is twofold. First, I think the example of the pope “breaking the rules” in the area of liturgy will only make it harder for priests who want to restore dignity to the liturgy by, well, following the rules. There will be more pressure from various quarters to bend and break the rules because “hey, the pope did it.” and then we end up back in the chaos of the 1970s and 1980s.

    Second. while the act of service is beautiful, does anyone really question that we are supposed serve others? Of course we usually fall short, but the basic theology of service to others (i.e., that it’s good) is rarely questioned. No one ever claims to be against the poor (though they may debate how best to help the poor). Yet the theology of the Catholic sacramental all-male priesthood IS under attack, constantly, both from within and without the Church. Therefore, I feel that this ritual on this particular day is best utilized as a “teaching moment” by stressing the institution of the priesthood. THAT is the message that needs to be sent out more than ever.

    At least at my parish the priest’s homily explicitly linked the eucharist, the priesthood and service. On the other hand, so many in sacristy after mass were crowing about great Francis is because he’s not bad old Benedict, who was “too extreme”. And this is my third concern. The whipsaw change in tenor is giving another club for those who wish to beat up the last pope (and by extension various Traditions). The message that is being received is that Francis is repudiating his predecessor—even though that is surely not the message he is trying to send.

  • http://www.catholiccrossreference.com/ Jeffrey Pinyan

    She’s in prison. With other non-females. And non-Muslims. And she’s not covered head-to-toe.

    And you think her family might have a problem with this!?

    I think this event would — or could — give her family a whole new perspective on a whole lot of things. This is Jesus-and-the-Samaritan-woman big.

  • Tabitha Raised

    Like Paul Rodden commented it is the “pastoral circumstances”. The Holy Father has not committed any doctrinal error. As others have noted, he will not and connot because of the office was built on rock, ever go succumb to the other liberal tentants of a female priesthood, or that their cry of “compassion” means allowing the redifinition of marriage. So, although, his actions throw off the catechized for those who aren’t it will most likely help the new evangelization until those folks find out how critical we can be.

  • Alex

    I have to disagree. I just don’t know how any of us are “worthy” enough to partake in the Eucharist. If we are all sinners, then we are all unworthy, right? Is confession before every mass required? I never thought so, so to take Paul ‘s instruction so strictly is overbroad as to be unhelpful. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Previously, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you…” Unworthiness is inherent for all receiving the Eucharist, but we ask Christ to give us his blessing anyway.

    For people who have broken away from the Church and are looking for the road back, the Church needs to be more open. I listened to a Catholic radio program about restrictions for re-married Catholics who had previously divorced. The couple was recommitting to the Church. The list of prohibitions–no Eucharist, living “as brother and sister”–were daunting. Same with premarital cohabitation. Not all of us are blessed to have had the wisdom in our youth to follow all of Christ’s teachings. But people who are trying to return to the Church mid-life should need our love and support and forgiveness, not ostracism. Why should the Church punish people who want back in?

  • u3

    Loosen up and don’t be so uptight.

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd Flowerday

    Good for Pope Francis. Clearly, many Catholics are too focused on viri selecti and not enough on the Gospel. The feet of disciples were washed–not apostles. John 13:15 clearly gives a mandate to believers to imitate the Lord, and we should be washing one another’s feet on Holy Thursday. This isn’t about women, or what the pope and other clergy do. And Catholics can always opt out of this gesture of service, as they might for anything of our tradition, even the sacraments.

    This is a very heartening sign: the first pope in history to wash women’s feet. Too bad I have to wait another 36 hours to say the word I really want to say.

  • Paul Rodden

    Hello Melissa.
    I really sympathise with your dilemma. I struggle with all sorts of stuff, particularly the ‘messiness’ of the Church. I’m a revert, so have seen ‘outside’.

    I work for the Church of England, and have very good non-Catholic friends who are far more prayerful, moral, committed to social justice, than I am. So often I find far more friendliness, care, solidarity and general family-feeling in non-Catholic congregations ‘outside’ the Catholic Church, too. What’s more one can almost guarantee the music will be great and preaching will be far more moving and challenging. It will ‘really minister to me’.

    But is my internal barometer reliable in judging who’s ‘in’ and who’s ‘out’? Is the Catholic literal interpretation of Peter’s Confession, and Christ’s founding of the Church upon that weak fellow, Peter, convincing or not (Matthew 16/Isaiah 22)? If it is, the dilemma is resolved. ‘Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia’, ‘Where Peter is, there is the Church’. [St Ambrose of Milan.]

    The question for me is whether the Catholic Church is the Church. Mary, Saints, calling priests Father, etc., aside. If I was not convinced of that fact, I would vacillate constantly because I’m a weak human being and want things my way.

    After all, I could rationalise myself out of the Catholic Church if I wanted to as it’s so easy. Pointing to those debates you mention, for starters. They show ‘the Church is divided’, so why not stay put outside, eh? Condoms prevent disease, the Church is mean towards Homosexuals (yep there are plenty of Catholic homophobes who don’t know Church teaching). It is here our humility is tested to the limit. One of the best rationalisations against the Church is the accusation of ‘Mediaevalism’ as if truth is progressive along a chronological trajectory.

    But I’m afraid that being Catholic is somewhat ‘Mediaeval’ for it doesn’t follow fads and it doesn’t let the ego and individualism drive the show – characteristics of post-mediaeval thought. The idea of ‘giving one’s life to Christ’ outside Catholicism is just as ‘Mediaeval’ because truth is truth and defies it’s position in history. Archomedes’ principle still stands, as do Pythagoras’ theorem and Euclidean Geometry.

    So yes, it requires a ‘Mediaeval-like’ swearing of allegiance but in that, we relinquish our pride and freedom, but discover a greater truth and freedom in service and obligation to a God who loves us. It is a real act of faith because I can never take back what I’ve given like I could as a non-Catholic by finding a congregation that ‘more suits my needs’ or ‘ministers to me’. That is, the ‘Mediaevalism’ has protected it from the individualism and narcissism of modernity where everyone is led to believe they are the source of truth ‘for them’.

    When I re-entered the Church I had almost every hang-up in the book. My head was screaming at me to reconsider what I was doing. But, one day, I just woke up utterly convinced it was ‘THE Church’ despite all my baggage.

    Don’t let the mess get in the way. Is the Catholic Church the true Church? Spend time in Eucharistic Adoration. Go to Mass. Let Jesus speak to your heart. God’s providence is always bigger than my puny pontifications.

    Blessings, Melissa.

  • midwestlady

    The last time anyone said that to me, I was 16, we were in the back seat of a car and I hit him and said “Take me home. NOW.” And he did.

  • ems

    I have a very old missal dating back to the old Latin Mass, pre-Vatican II. It clearly states that the washing of the feet is an optional rite, not required during the Holy Thursday Mass. Nor does it explicitly say that only men’s feet may be washed. As for the example of the Pope, there was an article in today’s LA Times that said that Francis’s example inspired at least one priest who works with incarcerated youth to do the same thing – wash the feet of those youth.

  • Richard

    A couple people have stated my fears already. This seems to open Pandora’s box so every priest can decide to do whatever he can justify in his own mind. I got a sense of this early on when Pope Francis decided not to wear some of the traditional vestments etc. I pray his actions do not lead many priest to do what they want to do when they want to do it. While he can choose to do all these things, I think it sets a bad president.

  • Timothy Gray

    ON a slightly different topic: Jesus chose TWELVE JEWISH MEN at the Last Supper and ordained them priests. He made it very clear; they were to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. He never said there should be more. Acts of the Apostles clearly indicates that the Church decided to replace Judas so the number could be restored to twelve. “The twelve” is what they were called.

    WHO gave the church the authority to ordain more than twelve? And to find non-Jewish ones besides? How is a non-Jew supposed to judge the tribes of Israel? Seems the church has been ignoring the intent of Christ and starting new traditions since way back. What were they thinking? Please help me understand this.

  • James

    This is very sad indeed. Well, I can’t change what I can’t change, but I can contribute where I want. I send my money to the traditional outfits, and I support the Extraordinary Form. Annunciation Monastery in Oklahoma, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, St. John Cantius, etc. It looks like Catholics of my ilk are being driven back to the catacombs. My Jesus mercy.

  • Nan

    Wow! Women are certainly not “less” in the Church! Mary is elevated above all. It was a woman who found Christ’s tomb empty. It was the Catholic Church who educated women; many orders were founded to teach girls and to teach them work skills so they could earn money. Serving others isn’t about evening the score; it’s about seeing Christ in others and serving Him.

  • Nan

    Don’t be an ass. Peter was given the keys to the Kingdom and told that whatever he bound on earth was bound in heaven and whatever he loosed on earth was loosed in heaven. He had the right to ordain more; furthermore, there would never have been a question of whether Gentiles must follow Jewish law in order to become Christians if other peoples joining hadn’t been contemplated.

  • David Zelenka

    Exactly, None of us are worthy. (Meant Sabbath not Sunday, btw) Even if I was absolved the moment before I took the Lord’s body and blood in that moment in between I would become unworthy.

    I do understand that people are and have been flagrant about the host, had orgies around the Supper in the past, and did some terrible things in his Presence. We must walk reverently to our Lord and know what we’re getting into: Christ and his cross.

    The whole remarriage thing is really absurd. What percentage of the US is divorced and remarried? These people must be able to approach Christ’s table. They must have his grace. Remember that the Father runs out to us *before* we get to him. This one issue is huge. I believe Christ is appalled and I feel for certain that this one issue will be resolved in an appropriate manner soon. Lives are complicated. Annulment is a dishonest workaround for most. God doesn’t want workarounds. He wants faithful people who are honest and humbly approach him in our fallen state.

    It’s the sinful that need Christ, not the righteous. Christ said that himself.

    I love how the present liturgy says as Alex writes above “I am not worthy…only say the Word and my soul shall be healed.” Every time I hear that, Christ shouts out to me in my heart: “Word!” He is our Word and we must be allowed to approach, especially us who know we are desperately dirty and in need of his cleansing.

  • David Zelenka

    Thanks, Paul.

    Likewise, I wait standing in the pews. I’ve been going to Mass for over a year now. I haven’t become a member because of family situation, but even so, in solidarity with all the others who can’t approach I’m fine with being in the midst of the Church for now and not being allowed to take communion.

    I also know that even though I can’t approach the table, Christ’s body and blood is coming in me. Not only because “when two or more are gathered in my name,” but also because literally the bread and wine have atoms that are breathed in and out of those who surround me, of which I breath. Jesus enters me that way. “Even the dogs get the crumbs from the table,” as the lady told Jesus.

  • Lynda

    Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. The liturgical law of the Church exists for good reasons, most importantly to protect the Deposit of Faith. Everything done and not done in our ancient liturgical heritage is done or not done in service to the Faith. It is not to be made subject to personal innovations or experimentation. God gave us reason and we can understand the good served by the ecclesial law. Tradition, including liturgical tradition must be respected – it is not owned by anyone. Not everything a Pope may do or fail to do is necessarily good, particularly if it conflicts with the Church’s law and tradition. Confusion and doubt are not good fruits. We must be obedient to the Magisterial Authority of the Church. We must also not reject our God-given reason which allows us to identify when laws or Tradition is being flouted. Our Faith enjoins us to use right reason in furtherance of the truth. The Pope cannot do whatever he desires with the liturgy – he too is subject to Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium. Popes can err (excluding formal ex cathedra pronouncements on Faith or Morals), and, indeed can be lead astray or act maliciously and thus against the interests of the Church. It is not obedient or respectful to the Magisterium or Our Holy Father to shun reason and blindly or stubbornly accept everything a Pope may do/fail to do as good.

  • WJ

    It would be nice if some traditionalists actually happened to know something about the actual history of the liturgy(ies) in the west, as opposed to the Disneyland-like version so many of them seem to hold. I cannot count how many times I have seen the washing of the feet ceremony depicted as though it were the Roman freaking Canon, instead of a minor and recent and, frankly, biblically dubious optional liturgical practice. Note, by the way, that the washing of the feet occurs in John, in which it is never specified that Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles only, the word not occurring at all in that scriptural context. So, too, do you people KNOW how different the 1962 Missal is from some of the beautiful rites proscribed by Trent? From the Mass under Gregory, and prior to Gregory? Despite what your favorite traditional blogger might have told you, the Roman Rite did not spring fully formed like Athena out of the mind of Christ, only to be ruined at Vatican II. The history of the liturgy is a complex and difficult area of study, and there is a great deal we still don’t really know. And let’s not forget that while the essence of the liturgy – the Eucharist – is instituted by Christ, much of the liturgy is a human construction. Hence the liturgy itself can become an idol. As, for that matter, can the Church.

  • M T

    What are you guys so scared about? Pope Francis just changed the rubric for a ritual done once a year, that also only 60 years old! Read Jimmy Akin’s article and calm down.

  • Rosemarie


    This press release from the Vatican explains *why* the Holy Father did what he did:

    Vatican Spokesman on Participation of 2 Women in Foot Washing Ceremony

  • Lorraine

    I think Father Longnecker’s article was very balanced in his assessment. Since washing of the feet was done in a detension center, the impact on the lives of these young people may be tremendous. What he was doing for them I am sure was MORE than symbolic. These boys and girls lives are confused. This may be lifechanging event for them, as opposed to the symbolism in a church. I am not opposed at ALL to the traditional ways. However, we have a crisis of FAITH today. Even so called believers have lost their way. Sometimes in the church it becomes necessary to simplify matters for a particular purpose with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. It is time in this YEAR OF FAITH for us to have faith in God through our Holy Father, Francis. The church needs some shaking up in the right way. What if direct persecution comes to the church and we must go back to simplier ways? Jesus wants us to follow His church and at the same time accept that for specific reasons we need to rethink our hearts and really enter into the mysteries of the church.. Jesus was the first church leader to speak to the woman at the well, and to visit the homes of sinners, tax collectors, and allow a prostitute to kiss and annoint his feet. Today, we have beautifully developed liturgy’s at high holy days. We want to guard against errors that we have seen happen in the church. However, our Holy Father Francis, has something new to teach us in regard to humility, simplicity and faith. Let us have faith that those who would use Pope Francis’ message to advance their own agenda are no friend of Christs’ and that exposing their own agenda will allow the church to continually purify itself of all it’s hidden agenda’s. Christ will work through Pope Francis to bring about a much needed grace for our church, humility.

  • http://restore-dc-catholicism.blogspot.com Janet Baker

    No He did not. Rather, He castigated those who
    Substituted their own proclivities for God’s law.
    Read Scripture a little more closely, please.

  • MAJ Tony

    Wherein did the good Father imply such?

  • http://www.patheos.com Trish

    What is all the fuss about? Pope Francis did what Jesus would have done. Visit the sick and imprisoned. It does not matter that he chose to wash women’s feet. We are all God’s children. He chooses to live simply. Jesus had his disciples leave their baggage benind and follow Him. We all need to do that more! I am truly impressed with our new Pope Francis. He is truly a man of the people!
    I have been a Catholic all of my life and loved it when Pope John the XXIII gave us Vatican II. Those changes needed to be made. For years I went to daily mass in Latin and didn’t know what I was saying or singing. Sometimes change is good. Our parish priest said he would never have girl altar servers and now they are in all churches.
    I respect priests, but my faith in them solely carrying on the Word of God has changed. Pediphiles are continually being reported.
    I think if more women were involved in some decision making…we would have a lot more children and teens involved.

  • Lisa De Ruyter

    I don’t like how this priest accused those who follow the church’s laws of love they are called pharisees. I thought the pharisees were the ones who rejected Jesus and the fact they He came to fulfill His laws of love, not abolish them, through the church. So I never wanted to reject these laws of love, over men who constantly abuse these laws, and create Mass the way they feel it should be said. The pharissie is the one who rejects these laws (and basically is sitting in the pope’s seat, by doing so). Now that the Pope is breaking these laws of love, it is just confusing. Peter himself was corrected too. If this is ok, then I think that the law should be changed from forbidding woman and children’s feet to be washed, and said that this can be done, so the entire church is in unity for these laws are laws of love and laws of unity. These laws are made so we can devoutly assist at the Mass. I think that I would rather follow the Magisterium’s laws of love, then make the Mass my own personal creativity, and harm all those who devoutly assist at Mass and knew better than me, why these laws of love where put there in the first place. There has been so much abuse after abuse and the church gave us these rubics, and laws of love, to end these abuses. Truly following these laws, to me, were the only way, that I knew that I was following Jesus (the Magisterium and the Pope) rather than some disobedient priest who thought he was going to make the Mass his own personal creation. When in fact Jesus Himself created the Mass (and His apostles and leaders). Maybe we need clarification, if these laws are to be bended and why so we can all be in unity and love. (the reason we have these laws).

  • Harvey B

    “As far as I know the Pope is infallible in only all things that concern the Church…”
    Barbara, this is false. He is not infallible in every facet of the Church. Only in official pronouncements of matters relating to faith and morals. The bit about washing feet is called a disciplinary matter, and it falls outside of the the infallibility realm.
    Also, why do you spout insistence that the Apostles could not cook or wash clothes? It seems that in lashing out to others, the mirror is really being held up to your own bigotry.

  • http://www.acatholic.org Laura Kazlas

    I was a mentor at a girls juvenile correctional facility for 3 years and I’m currently the program coordinator for Catholic ministry at a nearby women’s prison. I think it is awesome that Pope Francis washed the feet of two young girls in the juvenile correctional facility because it will affect them the rest of their lives. A prison guard who was a 30 year veteran told me once that the smallest things matter to the inmates and it may not make a difference for several years, but they will remember something little you did for them and it could change their lives. To change one life causes a ripple effect that is also positive for these young women who will certainly become mothers in a few years. Our bishop confirmed a young female inmate in our prison who has five years to serve. She cried her eyes out and had her aunt come and talks about it to this day. One of our inmates was baptized this Easter and the lady who was confirmed by the bishop witnessed her baptism and her tears and could relate to this beautiful experience. It causes a long term change in the inmates. So many of them have never experienced what real love is like, or to feel that they are of any value to society or anyone else. Pope Francis showed them they are precious and beautiful in God’s eyes. These girls will remember this the rest of their lives. Jesus let a sinful woman wash his feet with love. Who is to say that it didn’t touch his heart, that he remembered this beautiful act of love when he later washed his disciples feet at the last supper?


    I agree with you about the terrible witness the Pope just gave with this act. I will continue to attend the Extraordinary Mass to avoid such travesties and pray for the Pope. Traditional liturgy makes sense and is clear. I will not participate in any Holy Thursday Mass with the feet of women being washed. For the children’s’,( especially the boys’) sake we have to boycott all such aberrant liturgies. We are not Protestants, or are we? We must look at the traditions and how they developed and why, in addition to Holy Scripture. Also, the Church Fathers, etc. Also, we know how these ‘spontaneous’ gestures wreak havoc with true worship. Worship becomes more about what I am doing and not about God and what Jesus is and has done for us. It becomes a show about Pope Francis. The rubrics are there to help keep the Mass centered on our Lord and not on us. They are super important. Priests who disobey them are not loving God, since to obey them is to obey Christ.
    Yes, the prisoners everywhere are encouraged, but why do this on Holy Thursday and to the exclusion of the rest of the Church? Catholics do need to reach out to those around them and even horror of horrors, vote for pro-family pro-marriage politicians. Bad or no family life is one of the root causes of criminality.Washing of feet is not in itself going to heal these prisoners.