My Discomfort

Here is a press release Fr. Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt & Light and Assistant to the Director of the Vatican Press Office, sent today to journalists regarding Thursday’s Mass celebrated by Francis at the Juvenile Detention Center, “Casal del Marmo”.

* * *

In response to the many questions and concerns raised over Pope Francis washing the feet of 12 young people at the Roman Juvenile Detention Centre on Holy Thursday evening, especially that two were young women, Fr. Lombardi has sent me the following information to be shared with you.

One can easily understand that in a great celebration, men would be chosen for the foot washing because Jesus, himself washing the feet of the twelve apostles who were male.  However the ritual of the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday evening in the Juvenile Detention Centre in Rome took place in a particular, small community that included young women.  When Jesus washed the feet of those who were with him on the first Holy Thursday, he desired to teach all a lesson about the meaning of service, using a gesture that included all members of the community.

We are aware of the photos that show Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, then-Archbishop of Buenos Aires, who in various pastoral settings washed the feet of young men and women.  To have excluded the young women from the ritual washing of feet on Holy Thursday night in this Roman prison, would have detracted our attention from the essence of the Holy Thursday Gospel, and the very beautiful and simple gesture of a father who desired to embrace those who were on the fringes of society; those who were not refined experts of liturgical rules.

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. (Source)

I have no problem with the Pope washing the feet of women per se.  I have no problem with the Pope giving gestures that women are equal in dignity, obviously.  I have no problem with the Pope showing love and affection to the outcast and disenfranchised.

I am uncomfortable with the Pope washing women’s feet on Holy Thursday – not because they are not equal to men – but because this liturgical rite is closely attached to the male priesthood.  I am also uncomfortable with the clear discontinuity of the new Pontificate over what Benedict had proposed and implemented for the Church.  The liturgy is not a play-thing of the Church…or even the Pope himself.  Like the Word of God, the Church and the Pope are to safeguard and preserve the Liturgy.

I am very uncomfortable with the Pope disregarding canon law…any canon law.   It is not “rigid” or “legalist” to insist that everyone in the Church abide by Canon Law.  Canon law is essential in applying the Gospel to our lives.  Disregarding canon law is basically an assent to anarchy and disunity in the Church.  Other than the Holy Spirit, it’s the very glue that holds us together as Catholics. It is very troubling indeed for the supreme law maker in the Church to disregard the law.  It sets a bad precedent.  The Pope might be able to change the law, but while it is the law, he is still morally bound to respect it.

Pope St. Pius X was a lover of the poor and high liturgy and solid doctrine.  Why must there be a division?

And I think this touches on the real problem between pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II.  Why should there be a division between loving the poor and loving high liturgy?   High liturgy reminds the poor of their ultimate inheritance.  There are no poor in heaven.  Why must there be a division between maintaining our identity as Catholics and engaging in the new evangelization?

It’s not one or the other. It can be and should be both.

I hope that I am misunderstanding the Holy Father.

But it seems to me that we can show love while at the same time respecting the Church’s law and its tradition.  Pope Francis, if for nothing else, is not just the Bishop of Rome to the poor.  He is the Pope of the Universal Church.  Disregarding canon law goes far beyond the issue of gender and washing feet.

Think pro-abort Catholic politician and Canon 915.  Get my drift?


19 thoughts on “My Discomfort

  1. I actually saw a blurb of this news, running across the television last night reporting ina power point news format. I thought I saw it wrong and could not believe my eyes, ,so I said to my husband maybe I got it wrong and it said, that the Pope refuses to wash the feet of women, because in do doing He would be playing with solid Church teachings and Canon law, not to mention it is is very bad precedent, and worse yet is it an omen of what he plans on doing while he is has been givng the Supreme position of guiding God’s children whilst in the chair of Peter.

    So…I let the whole news streaming go through again until …yup there it was a gain, so needless to say, I was disheartened,
    and began to be reminded about all I have already read and seen not to mention experienced by being in local Parishes as well,who play with solid Liturgy and Canon law about the ongoing plan to destroy the Real Church and all its magnificent Glory begun and Instituted by none Other than Christ Himself.
    Yes… the plans are still intact by the evil Freemasons in high places as well as all through the Church, the smoke of Satan is clouding peoples eyes, so much so that many thought it had disappeared, but no, it has only gotten thicker and some have been blinded by it.

    God says be diligent,do not let your guard down, and ask His His Holy Spirit to speak His Truth into what “appears” different than it is. Never be passive, for your enemy who roars, roams around looking for someone to devour and never sleeps.
    When one’s gut tells you something is just a little off, and maybe one should investigate further as if it is God’s Will than listen till yu hear from Him and make sure it is The Holy Spirit and not any other spirit.

    In listening to one’s intuition, What Micheal Voris said about his gut feeling surrounding the production of the series “The Bible” is a good example. I had that big time in my intuition, not just because it was not authentic Catholic teaching, but because it claims and blatantly professes untruth surrounding
    God’s Word which means that the writers and producers are engaging in heresy about His-Story which is only True and real according to authentic and solid Catholic teaching and doctrine.

  2. While we’re on the subject of the new pope, I am also very uncomfortable with many changes he is bringing to the papacy, ie not wearing the red shoes (a symbol of continuity with Peter our first pope), changing the Throne to a white chair and lowering it so that it is on the same level as every other seated visitor or congregant in the room, and by extension, every other religion represented by these visitors. As the Church which Christ Himself founded, the Catholic Church cannot be lumped with every other denomination or religion. I am truly worried about where this pope is taking our church.

  3. You nailed it, John. I’m not so concerned about other changes he’s made but the “Feet-gate” issue is a cut and dry violation if liturgical rules stating that only men can have their feet washed during the Holy Thursday mass.

    It’s like a cop breaking the law: it’s all the more offensive. i can just see other progressive Catholics disobeying Canon Law with the excuse that even the Pope isn’t respecting it. Watch out for Holy Thursday 2014: every progressive parish will be washing women’s feet.

    Why didn’t he do the foot-washing of the inmates after mass? The beauty of his gesture would have been preserved while avoiding breaking the law.

  4. He also publicly plugged Cardinal Kasper a week ago in his Angelus address. Kasper and Benedict were frequently at odds when they were both Cardinals over the nature of the Church and other theological hot button issues.

    And Kasper is now plugging for Women Pseudo Deacons to placate the feminists (Of course, what he is proposing won’t make anyone happy).

    These are not good omens. Hopefully, all this will blow over, but just the same, ALL the wrong people (i.e. heretics, liberals, modernists) are euphoric about Pope Francis.

    That might not mean anything in the end because he is known to be orthodox in doctrine, but it is disconcerting to say the least.

  5. I’ve been thinking about how Pope Francis washed the feet of 2 women at Holy Thursday Mass. Most of my thoughts are an attempt to come up with some sort of explanation of why he did it and ‘excuse’ him, so to speak.
    My guess and hope is that he is not intending to undue the understanding that the washing of the feet of men on Holy Thursday represents the Apostles, and priestly ordination, and apostolic succession (“What I have done to you, you must do to others”).
    Rev. Federico Lombardi makes some sense to me when he says: “… in a “grand solemn celebration” of the rite, only men are included because Christ washed the feet of his 12 apostles, all of whom were male… Here, the rite was for a small, unique community made up also of women… Excluding the girls would have been inopportune in light of the simple aim of communicating a message of love to all, in a group that certainly didn’t include experts on liturgical rules.”

    I would add that the ‘group’ is likely made up of some very broken and truly fragile human beings.

    Try to see it like this: It’s very possible that everything was set up without the Holy Father knowing all the details in advance. It was, afterall, in an institution. It’s not like the Holy Father is going to personally oversee a rehearsal like I have to do at a small parish. I imagine some staff at the center was made responsible for the preparations, and that since at so many parishes both genders are chosen for the role, whoever was responsible for finding 12 persons never gave it a second thought. Given that scenerio, and the evident kind heart that the Holy Father has, I can understand him just going ahead with it. As a priest I can say that most of us have experienced this type of dynamic in some form or other when we offered Mass at a school, for example. We get surprised with all sorts of innovations, and then we have to make a quick decision whether to make a big deal out of it or not. Most of the time we’ll go along, just so we don’t set off WWIII or figuratively trample on the little ones hearts. So Pope Francis just goes along so as to not crush those persons that are right in front of him, and, probably thinking that aborting the ritual that had been arranged would cause more damage than good. So, to give Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt, my guess is that he is learning that being the pope is not the same as being an archbishop or parish priest. What I mean is that the whole world is watching, and what he does or says will have ripple effects for good or ill. We’ll have to wait to see if next year he does something different. In the meantime, let’s not panic. I doubt he would forbid priests around the world from washing the feet of 12 men to symbolize the apostles. Nor would I expect that he mandate that priests everywhere must wash the feet of women. We still do operate from the principle of subsiduarity in the Church, which is different than anarchy or relativism. And as for the breaking of canon law, this particular case is quite minor, really, despite the fuel it might give to ‘progressives’. Remember that in interpreting canon law there are two important pastoral considerations. First, we must ask what the purpose of any legislation is. Second, remember that, in the Church, laws are for the benefit of the persons. Don’t get me wrong. I wish he didn’t do it. But let’s try not to read too much into it. At the ground level there is always more to the story than meets the eye. Don’t let this disturb your peace. Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia! Pray for the Pope every day. Imagine the pressure he is under, and the attacks of the enemy. God bless. Happy Easter everyone.

    • Thanks Father—good thoughts. It is indeed more that I am afraid of what the “progressives” will do with it than the action itself.

  6. Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Faith,

    While I acknowledge that popes can and have done judgment errors (and awfully huge ones sometimes), I think some we should not be perturbed too much on this one. My sense is that we need to have a better sense of the diversity of liturgical practice that has been around in our Church in the last 2000 years. The important thing is that the priest maintains the respect for the sense of sacredness towards the mystery of the Eucharistic celebration. People react to different forms and as long as they are valid, we should respect the differences. Some people may come into the Church via different ways and we should meet them where they are at.

    It is true that the abuse of the liturgy in some parishes is scandalous. What we need to do is to re-educate (catechesis) Catholics on the true meaning of the mystery of the Mass. Once reverence is there, the rest just follows. My parents used to bring us to Mass occasionally in the slums in El Salvador: under a hut, no walls, dirt floor, hot, very simple…but people were so reverent. In their faith, joyful playing the Mass songs with guitars, and the priest reverent. The form is important but it is what it is in the heart and mind what it counts. The priest needs to set the respectful tone towards the sacred.

    My parents were/are strong Catholic Charismatics and we would spend 2 1/2 h every Sunday in very lively Masses. I don’t think it is my style but I do see clearly God’s grace among it. Further, I don’t think it is a situation of ‘either this form of Mass…or this one…’ but ‘this…and…this’. People experience God in different liturgies but the essential it is the Holy Scripture and His Real Presence and his Sacrifice of the Altar (CCC 1345). Same for others issues: sacraments, salvation, etc.. We have the beauty of the Truth and the Catechism is a good start to see what exactly is what we need to strive for to be children of God. It may be easy to be perturbed by this news but I think the Pope is sending a message of compassion: lepers were by strict Mosaic law to be an outcast and untouchable but this is Jesus acting and other examples of ‘breaking the law’ out of compassion: Man is above the Sabbath.Besides in his book ‘On Heaven and Earth’, he clearly rules out female ordination.

    The rubric of the washing of the feet is galaxies away from being an ‘infallible teaching’ and it can be changed by our pope at last minute without causing great scandal (if any I would dare to say), specially if he feels it can be re-directed to bring the Church towards its true mission: evangelization even taking courageous and bold positions when reaching out not only to fallen out Catholics but also other Christians, other religions and non-believers. Peter changed the circumscion laws that were clearly and previously given by God Himself, so this thing of the feet is a very minor issue, I think. We need to educvate ourselves of what is really essential. I believe every Catholic should be given a good teaching or reading on Church history. My dad used to do that with us…it was kind of ‘trying to immunize us’ against scandal so our faith remains focus on the essentials: Jesus.

    and, finally, we need to pray to the Holy Spirit for our Pope so he rightly chooses what is best for the Church and the ‘approval of the world’ does not misguide him in terms of his discernment of the effectiveness of his pastoral approach.

    God bless and Blessed Easter


  7. I appreciate and respect your seeking to understand what happened here, however,what about the little ones who have been confused for more than 40 years by this type of inconsistency on behalf of some people in high places who confuse with inconsistency. which is watered down to every level in the Church including local parishes and in this case a Service at an institution who instead of asking beforehand (d or even investigating what the rituals are that will be taking place int his special Mass,just compromise and explain later, as best they can, even with The Holy Father coming. Just whose responsibility is it?

    The Freemasons made it very clear that that was exactly what they sought out to do, confuse, change mix up everything in the Catholic Church so it becomes a free for all, and its o.k, and everyone who does not go along with it, is either rigid legalistic or judgmental.

    One experiences the same when they ask the Parish Priest at many local Parishes why he does the opposite of something totally different then what they used to know, that is (if they were privileged to have been subject to authentic Catholic Worship, Sacramental reverence, and adherence to Catholic Doctrine and teaching

  8. Thank you, Father Anthony. I hope you are right. But, here’s the thing: if he’s not asking in advance, then it can’t be a big deal to him. Surely he realizes that it’s over these “trifles” that bigger issues i.e. the male priesthood are at play. I get the impression – and it’s not an unfounded one at all – that he can “do his own thing” like he did in Buenos Aries where he typically washed the feet of women on Holy Thursday.

    Now, of course, there will be this huge outcry from the press and liberals alike about how ridiculous this whole thing is and how “backward” us “traditionalists” are.

    The Holy Father is free to wash the feet of women 364 days a year. It would be a wonderful gesture. There is no contradiction between serving the poor and canon law. If there is, I would like to see where it is.

    I don’t think many of us are asking something unreasonable for the Pope to respect the tradition of the Church, not to mention Benedict’s restoration of the past 8 years. This is not merely about being compassionate or washing the feet of the poor or women – beautiful and touching and even necessary gestures in and of themselves. But there is a much wider powerplay here and that is 1) the male priesthood and 2) respect for canon law and its role in getting Catholic politicians to stop playing Judas to the unborn.

    I have no doubt that the Holy Father does not want to call either of these into question. But gestures matter and he is Supreme Pontiff now which means that although he wants to put his own stamp on the Papacy, he also has to realize that perception does matter some times and he’s not in Argentina anymore with Argentinian problems. And besides, it’s not like he’s ignorant of liberation theology and what it’s ultimate game plan is.

  9. ++O’Malley claims that the Congregation for Divine Worship gave permission in 2005 for women’s feet to be washed at the Holy Thursday mass:

    However, this alleged permission was a private communication so we don’t know exactly what it says, how broadly it applies or even if it exists. Jimmy Akin explains the mess:

  10. A slippery slope was made a whole lot more slippery in my mind. The priest on Mass for shut-ins shown here in Atlantic Canada just gave a homily, an Easter Sunday homily, extoling the virtues of Anglican women priests and other women ministers………….and how it’s women that have kept our Church going all these years. Read into this what you will; I know how I took what he said though. And to me it seems that what happened on Holy Thursday gave these folks a nice thread to pull. I am wary of the coming unravellng…..

  11. Have you seen this?!

    “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.

  12. When the Vatican makes a press release, my understanding is that, it is via Vatican Information Service which is the official media source at the Vatican. Zenit News is not an official media source of the Vatican. So a “press release” from the Vatican via Zenit is confusing.

  13. What happened to your posts John how you liked the new Pope?

    We all need to watch and read and learn what he and others are doing, more as a whole. Then make the call.

    Red shoes and lowering the Pope’s chair, is it something that is going to make a difference if someone is going to Heaven or to hell?

    I understand and agree with the fear of a progressive Pope. We already have some Cardinals who are this way and Lord knows how they got in there.

    We need to slow down here.

  14. You may want to read the latest edition of Catholic Family News, April 2013 , with regards to the articles on Pope Francis,, by John Vennari, and “Francis Praise Kasper”, also by John Vennari: which elaborates on the Pope’s admiration for Cardinal Kasper, whose views on ecunmism, should be reason for anyone to erect a red flag.

    Omens of what is to come?, perhaps.

    Some people listen and watch and are prudent ,others, not so much.

    If one knew what to watch for, then that would be a good place to start-a Pope who is for Modernism of any kind should be watched.

    And…that is not being too “traditional “nor overreacting at all.

  15. I agree Frances.

    Personally, I read our bulletins to see what is going on. In our parish bulletin, they promoted the new evangelism and the speaker was Rosica. For me, this is a trend that needs to be watched closely because if people like him are being put in that position of teaching others, we know that false teachings will permeate our Church. At the same time, what about the Archbishop? Obviously, he supports it and I’m sure a number of priests support it. There are some who don’t support it but either aren’t speaking out (which most never do) or aren’t having any effect in speaking with the Archbishop.

    In regards to the Pope, we only have the media to rely on as there is such a level of secrecy which constantly surrounds the Catholic Church.

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