Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pope Francis and the Papal Foot Washing Controversy

  • Pope Stresses Selfless Service to Youth at Holy Thursday Mass, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 03/28/13. The Holy Father opened the Triduum by spending it with young men and women at a youth detention center in Rome.

    Here is the full text of Pope Francis’ homily given today at Rome’s juvenile prison, Casal del Marmo:

    This is moving, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Peter understands nothing. He refuses but Jesus explains to him. Jesus, God did this, and He Himself explains it to the disciples… ‘Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do’.

    It is the example set by Our Lord, it’s important for Him to wash their feet, because among us the one who is highest up must be at the service of others. This is a symbol, it is a sign – washing your feet means I am at your service. And we are too, among each other, but we don’t have to wash each other’s feet each day. So what does this mean? That we have to help each other…sometimes I would get angry with one someone, but we must let it go and if they ask a favor of do it!

    Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service. But it is a duty that comes from my heart and a duty I love. I love doing it because this is what the Lord has taught me. But you too must help us and help each other, always. And thus in helping each other we will do good for each other.

    Now we will perform the ceremony of the Washing of the Feet and we must each one of us think, Am I really willing to help others? Just think of that. Think that this sign is Christ’s caress, because Jesus came just for this, to serve us, to help us.

  • Pope Francis includes women in papal feet washing ceremony for first time Reuters 03/28/13:
    Two young women were among 12 people whose feet Pope Francis washed and kissed at a traditional ceremony in a Rome youth prison on Holy Thursday, the first time a pontiff has included females in the rite [as well as Muslims].

    The pope travelled to the Casal del Marmo prison on Rome's outskirts for the traditional mass, which commemorates Jesus's gesture of humility towards his apostles the night before he died.

    The ceremony has been traditionally limited to men because all of Jesus' apostles were male. The Vatican spokesman said two of the 12 whose feet were washed were Muslim inmates.

    While the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio included women in the rite when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, it was the first time women had taken part in a papal Holy Thursday ceremony.

Reactions and Commentary

  • "Letters [to Pope Francis] from Prison" (Vatican Radio) 03/28/13:
    When the young boys at the juvenile detention facility in LA heard of Pope Francis’ wish to celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at Rome’s Casal del Marmo prison with the young inmates there, many of them expressed their desire to participate from afar and in close solidarity to what the Pope was going to do in another juvenile hall.

    To do this they have written letters to Pope Francis, thanking him for his gesture of love and service, praying for him – as he has asked all of us to do, describing the sadness of their lives in detention, and asking for prayers to help them endure the darkness and hopelessness of their situations… As [Jesuit Father Mike] Kennedy points out, some of these youngsters will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

  • Pontifex legibus solutus?, by Joseph A. Komonchak. Commonweal 04/01/13:
    Conservatives and traditionalists need not be the only ones to raise questions about some of Pope Francis’ liturgical innovations, whether it was his including women and Muslims among those whose feet he washed or in the reduction of the readings for the Easter Vigil. But shouldn’t we all be concerned when they are justified by the idea that, after all, the pope is the supreme law-giver and so is not bound by Church law. There is an old Latin legal term for this: princeps legibus solutus, which Black’s legal dictionary translates as: “Released from the laws; not bound by the laws. An expression applied in the Roman civil law to the emperor.” As the example given shows, it is a very dangerous principle to allow into ecclesiology.

  • Why Traditionalists Have a Point, by Kevin Tierney. Common Sense Catholicism 04/01/13:
    So there's been a ton of concern trolling about how bad traditionalists have looked over the whole footwashing issue, and how they really just need to pipe down. Yet little noticed is how even if some might have reacted badly, there was a point behind it all. This point was proved by Fr. Thomas Rosica of the Vatican's Press Office in a statement on Pope Francis' ignoring of established liturgical laws. It is statements like this that make traditionalism so appealing.

  • Popes, like dads, don’t have a choice in the matter, by Ed Peters. In The Light of the Law 03/28/13:
    By disregarding his own law in this matter, Francis violates, of course, no divine directive, nor does he—to anticipate an obvious question—achieve the abrogation of a law which, as it happens, I would not mind seeing abrogated. What he does do, I fear, is set a questionable example at Supper time.

    We’re not talking here about, say, eschewing papal apartments or limousines or fancy footwear. None of those matters were the objects of law, let alone of laws that bind countless others. (Personally, I find Francis’ actions in these areas inspiring although, granted, I do not have to deal with complications for others being caused by the pope’s simplicity).

    Rather, re the Mandatum rite, we’re talking about a clear, unambiguous, reasonable (if not entirely compelling or suitable) liturgical provision, compliance with which has cost many faithful pastors undeserved ill-will from many quarters, and contempt for which has served mostly as a ‘sacrament of disregard’ for Roman rules on a variety of other matters. Today, whether he wanted to, or not, Francis set the Catholic world an example, about solidarity with outcasts, certainly, and about regard for liturgy.

    See also Dr. Peter's followup: Retrospectives on the Mandatum rite controversies 03/29/13.

  • What is Pope Francis really saying?, by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf. 03/28/13.
    In this explanation I am not necessarily endorsing specific things that he is doing (washing the feet of females in a prison) or not doing (refusing the mozzetta, etc.).

    ... Before liberals and traditionalists both have a spittle-flecked nutty, each for their own reasons, try to figure out what he is trying to do.

    Firstly, we are not succeeding in evangelizing. We are going backwards, globally....

    In the wealthy west, the Church is often perceived (and it is so very often portrayed) as not being compassionate. The Church doesn’t care about women in crisis pregnancies (and therefore we don’t condone abortion or contraception because we are not “compassionate”. The Church doesn’t care about the divorced and remarried (because we don’t admit them to Holy Communion and therefore we are not “compassionate”).

    I think what Pope Francis is up to is trying to project, re-project, is an image of the Church as compassionate.

    ... I’ll wager that, as a Jesuit, Francis doesn’t care about liturgy very much. He is just not into – one whit – either what traditional liturgy types or what liturgical liberals want....

    Francis wants priests to talk to people and find out what they need and get involved in their daily struggles. Liturgy, for Francis, seems to be involved precisely in that. Do I think Francis may be missing huge points in this approach? Sure, right now I do. But I am leaving the jury out.

    I don’t have to 100% embrace what Francis is doing even as I struggle to see and understand what I [think he] is up to.

  • How Should We Understand Pope Francis Washing Women's Feet?, by Jimmy Akin. National Catholic Register 03/28/13.

No comments:

Post a Comment