Pope Francis Changes Church Rules To Allow Foot-washing Of Women On Holy Thursday Mass

23 Jan

Pope Francis has changed the church regulations
to explicitly allow women and girls to participate
in the Easter Week foot-washing ritual, after
having shocked many Catholics by performing
the rite on women and Muslims just weeks after
he was elected.
Proponents of women’s ordination hailed Francis’
decree, while traditionalist Catholics warned that
it would weaken the church and lead to
questions about the inviolability of the all-male
Vatican rules for the Holy Thursday rite had long
called for only men to participate. Popes past
and many priests traditionally performed the
ritual on 12 Catholic men, recalling Jesus’ 12
apostles and further cementing the doctrine of
an all-male priesthood.
Shortly after he was elected, Francis raised
conservative eyebrows by performing the rite
on men and women, Catholics as well as Muslims,
at a juvenile detention facility in Rome.
He has continued to include men and women,
young and old, sick and healthy and people of
different faiths, traveling each year to encounter
them to show his willingness to serve. It was a
tradition he began as archbishop in Buenos Aires.
On Thursday, the Vatican published a decree
from the Vatican’s liturgy office introducing an
“innovation” to the church’s rules that better
corresponds to Francis’ way of doing things.
The decree said the rite can now be performed
on anyone
“chosen from among the people of
God.” It specifies that the group can
include “men and women, and ideally
young and old, healthy and sick, clerical,
consecrated and lay.”
Priests must make sure that those participating
are instructed beforehand as to the significance
of the gesture, the decree said. While the phrase
“people of God” generally refers to
baptized Christians, the decree also said
that pastors should instruct “both the
chosen faithful and others so that they
may participate in the rite consciously
actively and fruitfully.”
That could suggest that the rite could be open to
non-Catholics as well.
In an accompanying letter, dated Dec. 20, 2014
but released Thursday, Francis wrote to the head
of the liturgy office saying he wanted to change
the current rules
“to fully express the significance of
Jesus’ gesture … his giving of himself to
the end for the salvation of the world
and his unending charity.”
The Women’s Ordination Conference, a group
that has long advocated for female priests,
celebrated the decree as a sign that
“change is possible.”
But it noted that Francis’ wishes clearly met
resistance within the Vatican, given his letter
requesting the change was dated more than a
year ago.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the liturgy office,
is a staunch conservative.
“Our prayer during this Year of Mercy is
that the inclusion of women in the
church not stop at our feet, but will be
one of many signs to include women
fully in the institutional church,”
the group said in a statement.
The traditionalist blog Rorate Caeli, meanwhile,
warned that the accommodation could lead to
questions about the inviolability of the all-male
priesthood and bring the Catholic Church the
way of the Anglican Communion, which has been
badly divided over allowing female priests and
bishops and blessing same-sex unions.
“What is most tragic is to see the very
same impulses that imploded
Anglicanism imposed on Latin Church
decades later,”
Rorate Caeli said

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Posted by on January 23, 2016 in Uncategorized


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