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”.
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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?