The foot-washing wars are back

The foot-washing wars are back

If it’s almost Holy Week, you know what it’s time for: the foot-washing wars. Specifically, the battle over whether women can be included in the Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual, imitating Christ’s example of service to the apostles.

Frankly, I’m getting tired of it. Every year it’s the same old battle over what is really a settled piece of Church regulation. Here’s another article explaining the rule.

But like with altar girls, everyone knows better than the Holy See and they do what they want until eventually the bishop gets tired of people fighting over it and allows the practice. And then the Vatican notices that it’s become so widespread that it throws up its collective hands and says that it’s got more important things to worry about and allows it. The lesson that has been taught is that if you persist in minor violations long enough and refuse to obey, you eventually get your way, like a bratty child with a tired parent.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
7 comments
  • Funny how an optional component of the Holy Thursday liturgy gets so much attention. In Atlanta, if it was done, it was done with only men. Now under Archbishop Gregory, it seems to have devolved into only First Communion Candidates at the Cathedral.

    Just goes to show that distraction is the Devil’s easiest card…and American Catholic pride knows no boundry. The plain language of the rubrics is crystal clear but “we” know better…

    I know of no one who would go to a physician who is obese and smokes yet we hail the equivalent in liturgy as cutting edge and inspired.

  • I disagree with Lourdes.  Her critical points are true, there is a lot of time and motion; however, no moreso than at a confirmation mass where the bishop is tied into a chair and spends 15 minutes confirming 10 people.  The fact is that in Liturgy, by our words and deeds, we make present again the mysteries therein contained.  In the reading of the scriptures we “relive” the actions of God in the Old and New Testament as well as the words and deeds of Christ in the Gospels.  The same goes for this washing of feet.  By the celebrants actions he makes present for the faithful again the words, deeds and example of Christ.  The signifance of the passage in the Scriptures should not be overlooked, nor should the washing of feet be removed.

    On the other hand – it should be preserved in a steadfast way.  I echo Dom’s lament that the bratty children seem to win every time.  Well – settle in for the long haul, and include some prayers in our preparation for confronting, peacefully and lovingly, this abuse where it is present.

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  • Big Tom.

    Confirmation is a sacrament.  Foot-washing is not.  It isn’t even necessary—it’s optional.  And I think we should get rid of it.  It’s superfluous and protestant.

  • Many are saying that if the directives are not followed, don’t have the ceremony.  That is the same as saying that if you can’t have a family dinner without having a food fight, don’t have the dinner.

    The message is clear from the Vatican.  If you are a bishop, the only time that you will get kicked out or your hands “slapped” is if you are a child molester and the press makes public, or if you are a traditional bishop who consecrates other bishops with out mandate.  As far as the liturgy goes, everything is fair game.  The Vatican only makes “suggestions”.

  • That is the same as saying that if you can’t have a family dinner without having a food fight, don’t have the dinner.

    Well, yeah. If you can’t behave at dinner, then we won’t have it. Again, this is an optional ceremony, not required for Holy Thursday. It has become politicized and divisive. That’s unfortunate, but that’s the reality.

    Until such time as it’s lost its controversy, maybe we should not do it. Like letting a field lie fallow for a season to let it recover its vitality.

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