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Traditionalists taken aback by Pope's foot-washing ritual

April 01, 2013

Traditionalist Catholics were dismayed by the decision of Pope Francis to include young women in the traditional foot-washing ritual at the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. An AP story released on Easter weekend highlighted the traditionalists' discomfort, linking it with other complaints about the new Pope's liturgical and ceremonial decisions.

The Vatican press office issued a statement defending the Pope's gesture, which was at odds with the liturgical rules of the Church. Canon lawyer Ed Peters, who had respectfully questioned the Pope's gesture, now questioned the Vatican explanation.


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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Apr. 02, 2013 1:46 PM ET USA

    Msgrtom: The tradition of the mandatum as practiced until last week may be only a little younger than myself, but it was a published norm, and as such, the head of the Catholic Church would do well to make definitive changes in a way that does not blindside the faithful. I would appreciate it very much if His Holiness would comment on this event in a public way and make formal changes as he finds prudent.

  • Posted by: mario.f.leblanc5598 - Apr. 02, 2013 10:23 AM ET USA

    As a christian who has been bothered by rather dismal liturgical abuses for at least 20 years (a woman reading the Gospel and preaching, omission of the Gloria on an ordinary Sunday ant the like), I would nonetheless suggest that the distinguished Canon lawyer take the time to read Mt 12 with an open heart. Maybe he will see a faint picture of himself in one of the characters. The magisterium is a living being, not a dead body.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 02, 2013 10:08 AM ET USA

    The "tradition" of the mandatum during the Holy Thursday Mass dates back to 1953 in the reforms of Pope Pius X11. Prior to that, it vvas NEVER part of the Liturgy, but took place after. Bishops to priests, Superiors to nuns, deacons to poor etc etc. So to be a real "tradionalist" on the Mandatum on Holy Thursday does not exclude ANYONE. It is a modern innovation to perform this rite during the Holy Thursday Mass and to restrict it to 12 men.

  • Posted by: ltoscan2645 - Apr. 02, 2013 9:29 AM ET USA

    I keep praying everyday for this Pope,that he will continue to be a defender of the faith in its totality and traditions, both doctrinally and in forms of worship.I found the explanation by the Vatican of this act most unfortunate, it reminds me of the altar girl controversy. Our pastor here in Canada went to visit family in Rome and came back and instituted altar girls (before they were legally sanctioned) because they were doing it in the pope's "backyard" before the law was changed.

  • Posted by: ebierer1724 - Apr. 01, 2013 7:55 PM ET USA

    I don't see how breaking tradition in an effort to show love and humility - in the way we can suppose Christ would - can be a bad thing. I understand the traditional and theological purposes behind having only men have their feet washed as a part of that sacred liturgy, however I have rarely been moved by an act of a Pope as much as I was when I read the story about the Pope's actions. The stirring in my heart is the stirring of the Holy Spirit and I know I am not the only one who has felt it.

  • Posted by: mgreen32234 - Apr. 01, 2013 6:31 PM ET USA

    Given that there is a global war on tradition -- an attempt to erase our memory, our history, our knowledge of how we became what we are, our values, our depth and intelligence -- given that this war on tradition is undoing societies like a self-inflicted Alzheimers, I was very disappointed that Pope Francis did this radically untraditional washing. And whatever the "humility" message is, I don't get it.

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Apr. 01, 2013 6:08 PM ET USA

    Agnes, don't blame Greg Burke, the American to whom you're referring, for AP's mess up. It's AP's and AP's alone.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 01, 2013 5:31 PM ET USA

    The contest between pastoral sensitivity and following church law is very destructive to the life of the Church. It is a false dichotomy. This has been amply proven in the liturgical destruction since the Council. If the Holy Father does not take care to follow the rubrics he will not have a leg to stand-on when confronted by a new wave of destructive liturgical innovation. Liturgical law (rubrics) is a condition or pillar of liturgy and when it is abandoned we will all suffer the consequence.

  • Posted by: Defender - Apr. 01, 2013 3:35 PM ET USA

    Despite Fr. Lombardi's somewhat carefree dismal of the new pope's actions, the laity continues to look for continuity of tradition and of being Catholic. If it was the fault of the advance man in choosing who were to have their feet washed, that's one thing. Regardless of what happened, females and Muslims were not Apostles and isn't this a large part of what we are celebrating? Fr. Lombardi owes all believers an apology to all who take the Church's traditions seriously.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Apr. 01, 2013 12:51 PM ET USA

    AP does it again! We did not "adore" Pope Benedict for "restoring pomp" to the liturgy. We respected him because he taught the Church and its leaders the role of liturgical norms and the right of the faithful to authentic worship with the Church Universal. When I heard that the Vatican had hired an American to run their press office, I was initially heartened, but this kind of p.r. wash is worse than the original incident.