Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments made clear that priests are not obliged to wash the feet of women on Holy Thursday. Please read the articles at the Wanderer and Aletia
As we all know, Pope Francis amended Canon Law to permit the washing of women's feet this past January. Prior to that, the washing of women's feet on Holy Thursday was a direct violation of canon law. However, some of the more progressively-inclined bishops, in the wake of the canon law change, have taken it upon themselves to require their priests to wash women's feet. The latter is actually a misrepresentation of the canon law change, and most likely a deliberate misrepresentation.
Mindful of the moral and theological quandary in which faithful priests now find themselves (including some in my diocese who, for obvious reasons, must not be named), Cardinal Sarah stated that the individual priest "has to decide in accord with his own conscience, and according to the purpose for which the Lord instituted this feast".
So what is this purpose for which the Lord established this feast? We all know from basic catechesis that the purpose was two-fold: the institution of the Eucharist AND the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The Wanderer article picks up on an important point. We read in John 13 of the washing of the feet of the Apostles. After He is finished, Jesus exhorts them to wash one another's feet. Notice that He doesn't say "wash the feet of any random person". It would appear that the priests are to wash the feet only of men who are in Holy Orders or preparing for the same. It is unseemly, therefore, to wash the feet of women and even more so of non-Catholics.
Regrettably the pope is preparing to depart once again from the focus on the priesthood. He intends to wash the feet of some Islamic refugees. It's supposed to be a "powerful symbolic gesture", you see. At a time when many countries are waking up to the dangers to which they've exposed their citizens by unbridled immigration, when they are starting to take measures to protect their own people, the pope will try to lull their consciences back to sleep. This "symbolic gesture" is really quite political in nature, one that if heeded, will contribute to the endangerment of Christians throughout Europe.
Getting back to Cardinal Sarah's statement, priests are reassured that they can decline to wash the feet of women. They cannot be coerced into doing so. It is my understanding that the washing of feet itself is entirely optional. I hope and pray that many priests will take heart and stand strong against progressive tyranny, even from their own chanceries.
Please spread this, as many priests may not be aware of Cardinal Sarah's pronouncement.
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