Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

O'Malley queers Boston foot-washing

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Mar 22, 2005

In a state that gave us gay marriage, Paul Shanley, and the Boston College Theology Department; in a state where the Church blurs seamlessly into the Democratic apparatus, and where the Democratic apparatus blurs seamlessly into ACT-UP; in a state where four priests out of ten fail to see the problem with NAMBLA or Dan Schutte's "Here I Am Lord," one would think that a little clarity about la difference would be welcome.

All the more vexing, then, that Archbishop O’Malley should toss away one of the remaining symbols of sex distinction -- washing of the feet of duodecim viri on Holy Thursday -- especially since he could let the Holy See take the heat of the outrage from the gender benders: The Vatican made me do it.

The word from the Archdiocese is that the archbishop asked the Vatican about the situation and that the Vatican … well, see what you can make of it:

O'Malley promised to consult with Rome, and yesterday his spokeswoman said the Congregation for Divine Worship, which oversees liturgical practices, had suggested the archbishop make whatever decision he thought was best for Boston. "The Congregation [for Divine Worship] affirmed the liturgical requirement that only the feet of men be washed at the Holy Thursday ritual." However, the Congregation did "provide for the archbishop to make a pastoral decision."

I confess my Flynnish is a little rusty, but I don't myself read the provision "to make a pastoral decision" as permission to wash the feet of women –- that option seems to be expressly excluded. More likely the "pastoral decision" intended would be a determination to skip the foot-washing altogether in favor of, I don’t know, a Bob Cousy highlights video.

So the maleness of the twelve apostles will get the Mardi Gras treatment in Massachusetts -- just where it's least needed. Picture the Boston clergy with that dangling lower lip and stare into the middle distance characteristic of the petulant first-grader at the feltboard trying to dress Wendy Weather Girl, and failing.

Come to think of it, the Massachusetts Correctional Institute Concord must be one of the larger domiciles of Catholic clergy in the Commonwealth by now; Paul Shanley and James Talbot have been added since the new year to swell the ranks. One can well imagine the concern for renewed liturgy in that clerical cellblock! It would be only fitting if the Mass that commemorates the institution of the priesthood should be celebrated iuxta ritum by poofters in prison, while the rest of the Boston faithful are treated to the sundry Walter Cuenins indulging the, ahem, "pastoral decision."

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