I refer, of course, to the now-infamous and yes, scandalous conduct of the Holy Thursday service at Rome's Casal del Marmo prison for minors. The Holy Father washed the feet of twelve minors - including two women, one of them Muslim. This is in direct contravention to canon law that stipulates that only the feet of men be washed, if that ceremony is included in a Holy Thursday liturgy.
This is wrong on so many counts. Yes, he's the Holy Father and he can initiate a change to canon law. But changing a law is not equivalent to breaking a law. Unfortunately the latter happened yesterday. Father John Zuhlsdorf believes that the pope is trying to make clear that the Church is compassionate. Well, be that as it very well may, the ends do not justify the means. That principle of moral theology binds even upon the Holy Father.
The Pope has just, by example, led many people to think that the Vatican cannot be taken seriously. If the Holy Father can break canon law, by what logic can he ever insist that others do so? Witness the example set forth by King David (read some Old Testament here). After his adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of Uriah, he lost all moral credibility in the eyes of his sons; all of the notable ones ended badly (including Solomon). Yesterday the Holy Father stepped perilously close to that precipice and may even have tripped over the edge. I'm sure that wasn't his intent, but that was a very foreseeable effect. Some sober thought on his part might have led him to anticipate that.
For a "case in point" of the disaster that was unleashed yesterday, I refer you to a comment on the blog of my colleague at Tenth Crusade; see what "Catechist Kev" said at "Mar 29, 4:51pm". This scenario will be repeated many times over in the next few months and even years.
Another commenter on one of the other blogs raised this interesting point regarding of the young Muslim girl. She has now been touched by a leader of a religion other than that of Islam. Her life may well be in danger if her family is of the "jihad" variety. Did the Holy Father and his advisers consider that? In their crusade for simplicity, perhaps they've mistaken that for simplistic thinking that doesn't consider all aspects of a given course of action.
This current Holy Father seems to have a disregard for some of the traditions of the papacy, most particularly that of the vestments. In perhaps a misguided zeal for "simplicity", might he have forgotten that these traditions have historical roots that transcend not only his personality and tastes but those of his predecessors and successors? Among other things, they are meant to convey the sublime dignity and authority of the Petrine office and cannot be jettisoned with utter abandon. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is no longer merely a Jesuit from Argentina. He is now the Holy Father, the Pontiff who holds Peter's keys. I pray that he learns to appreciate the dignity and responsibility of that office for he causes many to doubt that such appreciation has already occurred.
Morning Papal Mass Before Many Empty Chairs
3 hours ago