Making the church less 'self-referential'

Making the church less 'self-referential'


     Francis washed and kissed the feet of inmates

With every act of his pontificate, Pope Francis seems to be demonstrating exactly what he meant when he told cardinals that the church needs to be less “self-referential” and more present in every environment of modern society.

The debate over washing the feet at the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper had become one of those “self-referential” issues. The controversy was whether both men and women could have their feet washed; some argued that Jesus was instituting the priesthood with his 12 male disciples on that occasion, and that the “men only” rule made ritual sense.

Pope Francis, as we know, washed and kissed the feet of 12 young inmates in a Rome prison at the Thursday liturgy. Among them were two young women and two Muslims. He explained that washing the feet was above all an act of humble service, and said it illustrated simply that “we need to help one another.”

“These young people will help me be more humble, to be a servant, as a bishop should be,” he said.

In other words, rather than drawing boundaries around this Catholic rite, he found a perfect way to make it accessible and understandable to all.

This is a smart way to evangelize. It’s not a smart way to woo traditionalists, as the reaction from some quarters has made clear – but that does not seem to be among the new pope’s priorities.

12 comments (Add your own)

1. Kelly wrote:
There is a whole lot of people.. both traditionalists and liberals longing for Vatican III.. who managed to miss what the pope was teaching us yesterday. What is happening is radical but it has nada to do with Church doctrine.

Fri, March 29, 2013 @ 11:03 AM

2. Yae wrote:
I feel sorry for the traditionalists as they have failed to see the charity in the humble gesture of what took place. I will say it makes me uncomfortable to look at those pictures since this is the Holy Father after all "on his knees" bringing Christ to those young folks. Seeds have been planted and now, for those of us who claim to believe, well, it is time we too get on our knees and pray those seeds take root. The Holy Father has the heart of a Pastor and it was on full display.
May many be brought to Christ by a true conversion of heart stating with me. Amen

Fri, March 29, 2013 @ 1:02 PM

3. Ruth Ann wrote:
The action of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, inspires me. I am surprised and saddened at the criticisms and I hope they cease.

Fri, March 29, 2013 @ 2:13 PM

4. Sibyl S. wrote:
Well, Jesus let a woman wash HIS feet.

Sometimes the radical traditionalists seem downright misogynistic. May be.

Fri, March 29, 2013 @ 4:10 PM

5. Sibyl S. wrote:
After all, foot washing was a lesson in humility; it was not an ordination ceremony.

Fri, March 29, 2013 @ 4:12 PM

6. claire bangasser wrote:
It's interesting you know: the same blog is quoted again and again when it comes to disgruntled conservatives.
Otherwise, Pope Francis continues to be a treat and an inspiration.

Fri, March 29, 2013 @ 5:16 PM

7. Paul Ben wrote:
There are a lot of rituals, a lot of ceremonies, a lot of appearances, a lot of unnecessary "show-offs", of unnecessary distractions in all churches, in the Eastern and Western rites. And especially in the East. Maybe if we get to the point instead of wasting time, effort and giving or taking instructions about the "looks" during the celebration, and worrying that something might go wrong, against the preset, planned order and instruction, it would be more beneficiary for the soul of the faithful and the celebrants. Surely God is looking for content, for sincere works of mercy before celebrating a Mass or performing any ritual. Looks and appearances are meant for the media and the people. That's what people want to see and gossip about as we're seeing in this story. God doesn't give a damn! Jesus said, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."

Sat, March 30, 2013 @ 2:45 AM

8. Br. Tony Jukes, S.S.S. wrote:
Speaking to Associated Press, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., explained that “in a "grand solemn celebration" of the rite, it would make sense to only involve men because during the Last Supper, Christ washed the feet of the 12 apostles, all of whom were male. But in the case of Casal del Marmo “the rite was for a small, unique community made up also of women. It was a specific situation in which excluding the girls would have been inopportune in light of the simple aim of communicating a message of love to all in a group that certainly didn't include refined experts in liturgical rules."

Also, interesting aligned to this case is the Pope’s short homily at La Casa Santa Marta as reported by Cindy Wooden:-

But people also do the same to each other, including "when we gossip about each other," he said.

"I don't know why, but there is a dark joy in gossiping," he said. Sometimes we begin by saying nice things about another, but then we slip into gossip, making the object of our chatter merchandise to be bartered.

"Let us ask forgiveness because when we do this to a friend, we do it to Jesus, because Jesus is in this friend," he said.

If one notices a defect in another, Pope Francis said, the Christian response is pray that God will help him or her.


Morover, I maybe wrong, but I thought the Pope has jurisdication over all the Church's litugy...

Sat, March 30, 2013 @ 8:32 AM

9. Barbara wrote:
As a "left behind" Vatican Catholic, I see a glimmer of hope for myself and others like me in the Holy Thursday ritual.
Why are the traditionalists so angry with the idea that the Pope chose to wash women's feet? I can't go back to a church which excludes 51% of the population.dfe

Sat, March 30, 2013 @ 9:04 AM

10. lois j Jenkins wrote:
Theophane the Monk said: Humility is the audacity to be the first to say, 'I love you'."

Sat, March 30, 2013 @ 1:01 PM

11. Gerard Mpls. wrote:
I often hear traditionalists telling liberals to join the Episcopal Church if they want to ordain women, have married priests, etc. Now with Pope Francis on board, I'm compelled to tell the traditionalists to join the St. Pius X bunch (SSPX) if they want all-male feet washing and a "purer," more judgmental, Church.

Sat, March 30, 2013 @ 2:28 PM

12. Oswald Sobrino wrote:
I am 100% with our Pope Francis!

Sat, March 30, 2013 @ 5:00 PM

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