Liturgy Secretary of England and Wales: Don’t Imitate Pope Francis and Wash Women’s Feet

According to the liturgy secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, priests should not imitate Pope Francis and wash women’s feet, The Tablet reports. The pope’s actions caused much comment because the liturgical books only allow men’s feet to be washed. Pope Benedict washed the feet of men initially, and then switched to the practicing of washing the feet only of priests.

Fr. Paul Gunter stressed that papal liturgy should not be seen as the exemplar for other liturgies. “It is precisely because the papal liturgy is a distinct reality in itself, that local churches [cannot] call on its precedent to dispense themselves from norms that apply to the whole Church,” he said.

He said further, “While it is known that there exist, in some parts of the Church, those who extend the rite of the mandatum [foot washing] to women, contrary to the liturgical norms contained in the liturgical books, … such indications, nonetheless, pertain to different conversations about ecclesiological perspectives regarding the magisterial authority attached to authorized liturgical books.”

Fr. Paul Gunter OSB, is secretary of the Department for Christian Life and Worship, and professor at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome.

90 comments

  1. So the thrust of his message seems to be “If I agree with (or get appointed to high office by) a Pope, then what he does should be done by all, right down to the way candles are arranged on the altar, but if I don’t agree with (or get appointed to high office by) a Pope, then what he does should be ignored.”

    And what’s with his writing/speaking style? Did he really say/write it like this, or is this a Vox Cloara translation of what he originally wrote/said in Latin?

  2. “Liturgical books” is plural. Is he speaking about the thousands of MR3’s all over the world? Or just that one line in the GIRM? We’re talking about one reference in one book, I’m pretty sure. Fr Gunter should attend to accuracy in a public pronouncement and not try to pile on with the weight of misogynist opinions.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #1:

      Or just that one line in the GIRM? We’re talking about one reference in one book, I’m pretty sure.

      Nope, there’s also the Ceremonial of Bishops and the collected liturgical documents, that make up another body of liturgical law (in this case Paschales Solemnitatis.

      And you know that his opinion is misogynist how?

  3. In washing young women’s feet, Pope Francis on Holy Thursday may have set papal precedent, but it’s well-known that he wasn’t the first priest or bishop to wash the feet of women or children at liturgy on Holy Thursday. The US Bishops offered their guidance on the matter in 1987. It is written here: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/triduum/holy-thursday-mandatum.cfm.

    As they note, “This is the latest statement of this Secretariat on the question. No subsequent legislation or instructions have necessitated a modification in the statement.”

    We are not exactly in a liturgical climate in which the Holy See is shy about expressing directives on matters such as these. I’m confident that we would have heard by now if the practice of washing women’s and children’s feet at Mass on Holy Thursday was to be halted.

    I understand that we can’t do everything like a papal Mass (intinction, anyone?). Yet, isn’t that–to greatly simplify things–one way in which the liturgy of the West spread? See it in Rome, bring it home? Or, was the book sent out from Rome to communities which were faithful to it in greater or lesser degrees, before the liturgy was ultimately standardized in the Missal of 1570? A combination situation here, and a lot of other factors, it seems…

    We have a rich history of liturgical practices and multivalent symbols expressed differently in different places yet within the Big Tent of the Church. Our U.S. Bishops and the Holy See, through different styles of leadership, have allowed this practice of foot washing to carry different meanings. Can we here on the ground allow them to exist together, as well?

    1. @Kyle Lechtenberg – comment #3:

      Read that document carefully and you will find that it does not in fact give permission for washing women’s and children’s feet (as we discussed in the previous thread.)

      In fact, shortly after that document was released, the Vatican did issue another document Paschales Solemnitatis in order to

      recall certain elements, doctrinal and pastoral, and various norms which have already been published concerning Holy Week. All those details which are given in the liturgical books concerning Lent, Holy Week, the Easter Triduum and paschal time retain their full force, unless otherwise stated in this document.

      That document reiterated the prohibition.

      1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #7:
        I am not a canon lawyer, but I have studied liturgical law. I disagree with Fr.Gunter. Many of our rubrics and liturgical laws began as customs. The washing of women’s feet during the mandatum is one such custom. Canon 27 tells us that custom is the best interpreter of law. There is also the provision that if a custom is in existence for 30 yrs or longer it becomes law. Some canonists hold that the custom of washing women’s feet does not meet this requirement because of the various revisions of the Roman Missal. However, Canon 26 allows for the Pope to explicitly or tacitly approve a custom with or without the 30 yr period. I do believe that Pope Francis tacitly approved this custom by his actions at the youth prison. The Vatican later made a statement that explicitly verified the custom. The Pope is the supreme liturgical legislator. .

  4. I suppose the conferences also cautioned against arranging candlesticks and a crucifix on the altar in imitation of Benedict XVI. Just because the pope does something does not give anyone else permission to do it.

  5. What dismays me is that Fr Gunter has felt obliged to issue a ruling at all. I wonder if he was worried that Pope Francis was setting a bad example? Elsewhere in his statement Fr Gunter says that the washing of feet in the liturgical context is an imitation of the Last Supper and “intrinsically attached” to the institution of the priesthood. I wonder what his sources are, especially if he believes them strong enough to underpin a laying down of the law like this. Both his assertions seem to me amply open to challenge.

    If the washing of feet is a gender-specific role-play of the Last Supper, why isn’t the reception of Communion? And what aspect of foot washing makes it symbolic of priesthood?

    1. @Martin Barry – comment #9:
      “If the washing of feet is a gender-specific role-play of the Last Supper, why isn’t the reception of Communion? And what aspect of foot washing makes it symbolic of priesthood?”

      Excellent questions, Martin.

  6. Yet, as S. Alphonsus says, the Pope’s will, God’s will.

    I suspect that this pope will not suffer foolish prohibitions gladly. We are indeed living in interesting times.

  7. Martin Barry : Elsewhere in his statement Fr Gunter says that the washing of feet in the liturgical context is an imitation of the Last Supper and “intrinsically attached” to the institution of the priesthood.

    Let me accept his statement for now. Put it together with the fact that Pope Francis washed the feet of women. Then, what does that imply about women and the priesthood? Is Fr Gunter really saying what I think he is?

  8. Here you go – seems to put Gunter’s statement in the category of *not understanding the liturgy or the roots of the mandatum or what Pius XII intended in 1955*:

    http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/triduum/holy-thursday-mandatum.cfm

    Key points – review1-6 – no reference to anything about the mandatum as *intrinsically attached* to the institution of the priesthood.

    Is this just another version of *literally* interpreting apostolic succession and borrowing from the Holy Thursday ritual to reinforce an inadequate understanding of the Mandatum or even apostolic succession?

    See also Prosper Gueranger, OSB, The Liturgical Year, Volume VI, Passiontide and Holy Week (Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1949), pp. 395-401

    Annibale Bugnini, CM, and C. Braga, CM, Ordo Hebdomadae Sanctae Instauratus in Biblioteca “Ephemerides Liturgicae” Sectio Historica 25 (Rome: Edizioni Liturgiche, 1956), pp. 73-75;

  9. I have noticed that when it suits HMC, (Holy Mother Church) man (vir) means men and women and the request for inclusive language is silly. When it doesn’t suit, it means only persons with male genitals. Frankly, I am running out of patience.

    My feet were washed at this mass many years ago and I found the experience to be both humbling and inspiring. I’ll never forget the example of ministry that was demonstrated that night. It wasn’t just a “role play” for us. It changed my life. Preach by example, (thank you Pope Francis) and revise the sexist rubrics.

    1. Anne Moore : Preach by example, (thank you Pope Francis) and revise the sexist rubrics.

      Changing the rubrics instead of ignoring them would be helpful. I think we can all agree on that.

  10. Forgive Fr. Gunter, he is still in shock and a bit fuzzy after having Pope Francis hit the brakes, turn the ship of state around, and shift out of reverse and into drive. Ever see a Venezuelan drive?

    1. @Anne Moore – comment #21:

      I don’t see why that is true for the Pope. He is the supreme legislator – Changing the rubrics should be no harder than planning his masses.

      Also, in not changing them, he is causing Catholics of good faith problems (i.e. who do not wish to break rules or dismiss the Holy Fathers example).

      Why not release them from this bind?

      1. @Scott Smith – comment #23:
        Exactly. If the Pope wants this rule to change, he can change it. He doesn’t need to consult anyone or jump through any hoops.

      2. @Scott Smith – comment #23:
        Alternatively, they could release themselves and exercise their own judgement about how important rules are.

        Pope Francis is helping us all to grow up. There is no need to be looking over our should continually – despite Father Paul’s views.

      3. @Gerard Flynn – comment #32:

        “But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak”.

        It is not for us to pass such judgement on the weakness of others – Our own weakness is all too great.

  11. Fr Gunter can only express an opinion. I question his authority to decree anything definitively. He is secretary, only an administrative servant, to the bishops conference who retain authority with the Holy See in liturgical matters. I suspect, a ‘higher authority’ will clarify differently how the rubrics are to be interpreted in due course and his comments may have made that necessary more sooner than later. Given the current circumstances I think Fr Gunter is very unwise to jump in the water now. Holy Week is a year away so there is no pressing need to speak at all, unless he’s worried about spontaneous outbursts of priests washing women’s feet up and down the UK in the next few months!

    1. @Andrew rex – comment #22:
      Very good points and expressed in a very balanced way.

      Father Paul’s intervention is symptomatic of the tendency of the Roman curia to assume executive power when its function is to provide administrative assistance.

      After all, it is not the Roman dicasteries, or national or diocesan secretariats which are the successors of the apostles. It would be good if a bishop from England and Wales issued a statement on the matter.

      This is an example of the type of challenge awaiting the reforming zeal of Father Franciscus.

  12. The washing of the feet has nothing to do with clergy or with men only.

    Let me amend my comments regarding Fr Gunter. The ritual is optional. A person who lacks maturity to not only allow women and children to be washed but also wash in line with the Lord’s command (John 13:15) probably shouldn’t bother with the ritual at all.

    Let me also suggest that in communities where it is not done on Holy Thursday at the church, there is nothing to prevent lay people from gathering at another time of the day and sharing the ritual with one another. Honestly, we don’t need priests to maintain the traditions of Christ. Especially when some of them just get in the way.

    Thanks Jeffrey, for the correction. Rubrics, yes.

  13. Anyway, of course, the underlying psychosexual stressor is not misogyny per se but “gynephobia” -fear of women -especially when presented with a potentially sexually fetishistic act such as washing a woman’s feet; which, as many of you will confirm, can be not only a deeply sexually satisfying act in itself, but also (and simultaneously) a deeply spiritual act. This is the “elephant in the room” which apparently never gets mentioned when this Maundy Thursday washing-of-feet business gets brought up. A lot of stuff, liturgical and otherwise, renders down inevitably to deep human desires and emotions which are taboo in the contexts in which they arise.

    1. @Mark Emery – comment #25:

      The first time I was present at a celebration where everyone’s feet are washed (such celebrations are of course quite common), the very last person to have their feet washed was a 35-year old man. The person doing the washing was a six-year-old girl. By this time, washing had ceased at all the other stations around the church, and the whole assembly watched, totally still and holding their breath, as the little girl performed this gesture of love and service for her daddy.

      There was absolutely no sexual connotation whatsoever in such an act. It’s all in the mind of the beholder, alas. (And in fact most people’s feet are not pretty to look at!)

  14. This guy needs a sabbatical. Holy Week is a year away, he should have said nothing. Now here is a fact that everyone just has to deal with: countless bishops and priests wash women’s feet and have been for decades. Doing so didn’t make the list of liturgical abuses in case no one noticed. The idea that strictly following rubrics is an inflexible requirement for the efficacious celebration of the Eucharist and the other sacraments is characteristic of the EF not the OF. I have a great archbishop, but without any apparent compunction he won’t use a host large enough to be broken into pieces, some of which can be distributed to the people; and he continues to enable the practice of storing large quantities of Hosts in the tabernacle that he relies upon for communion distribution. But, you know what, I live with it. Not a big deal. Nor is it a big deal if the pope reverences the Presence of Christ after consecrating both elements with a profound bow rather than genuflecting after each consecration. This is the kind of difference that means nothing to the PIP. The alternative to strict adherence to rubrics is not chaos and confusion but common sense exercised by priests doing their best to lead people they love in the worship of God.

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #28:
      Given the discussion here it seems to me that Fr. Gunter’s pastoral direction is most helpful, even wise. There is too much temptation for celebrants to ignore the rubrics & our received tradition at a whim. A “creative” celebrant can defeat the liturgical movement altogether. As the council reminded us, the liturgy is too important for that.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #38:
        I have no dog in this hunt. But could you further your point about the importance of liturgy, br. Todd? Left as is, there’s dissonance with “source and summit of our being,” and I don’t really believe you intended that difference.
        I think I’ve now read two references to the Tarantino “foot massage” dialogue in reference to Casal Mass. Ridiculous. That’s two too many inferences.
        At risk of losing some rep cred, I agree that we all need to lay off, and let Francis be Francis for quite some time, take care of business at home, and find, if we must, other cannards that enable us to argue whether the sky is falling. YMMV

      2. @Charles Culbreth – comment #43:
        “Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows.”

        I think the liturgy is directed to the faith of believers. Christ is “source and summit of our being.” The liturgy helps us achieve this.

        My comment, in context, was directed as Daniel’s: As the council reminded us, the liturgy is too important for that.

        There are times when faith is too important to be encumbered by old, useless ideas about liturgy.

      3. @Daniel McKernan – comment #36:
        You suggest that celebrants who wash the feet of women at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper are ignoring our received tradition. I would suggest that at least as problematic is the inventing of tradition that Fr. Gunter is engaged in when he speaks of the rite as “intrinsically attached to the institution of the priesthood.”

  15. Jack Feehily : … but common sense exercised by priests doing their best to lead people they love in the worship of God.

    Except, rightly or wrongly, the trust required for that has been lost, and would need to be re-established before that solution could be accepted.

  16. It is sad to read the comments by Fr Paul Gunter.
    When Francis visited the young men and women in the juvenile detention centre in Rome he gave a message that has reverberated round the world, not only for his action of kneeling to wash a stranger’s feet, but for the inclusivity of what he did. Here is a Bishop who leads by example, who says much with few words, who looks for simplicity for himself and by implication asks us to do the same. Dare we think that the vision of the Church that came from the Council is at last being considered, a Church that is open to the world rather than inwardly turned to its own structures?

  17. “It is precisely because the papal liturgy is a distinct reality in itself, that local churches [cannot] call on its precedent”
    But is a particular parish Mass not also a distinct reality? With it’s pastors living out the liturgy most appropriately for their communities. Most parish priests I know wouldn’t see the Pope’s actions as a precedent, but as a validation of their approach to being a pastor that they have been practicing for years.

  18. The announcement of the eight cardinals to lead the reform of the Curia today suggests that everyone is going to have to get use to this Pope’s new style of doing things.

    In a signal that major reform may be on the horizon, the Vatican announced today that Pope Francis has formed a group of eight cardinals from around the world to “advise him on the government of the universal church” and “to study a project of revision” of a document from John Paul II on the Roman Curia.

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/pope-taps-eight-cardinals-lead-reform

    Note that these cardinals are not going to meet together as a group until October 1st but that Francis is going to talk to them individually in the meantime. They represent a diversity of continents and viewpoints.

    All of this seems very much in line with what we know of Francis previous style of management.

    I suspect that we will see most of the “unofficial” revamping of the Curia will take place between now and October 1st through consultations with these eight and others.

    Then on October 1 this group who will have been in on all Francis thinking and decision making will assemble and redo the documents that make everything “official.”

    The old style of Papacy where a person or group of persons gets empowered to do their own thing is past history under this Pope. This group of eight has been empowered to work closely with the Pope in a manner that is going to make it difficult for any of them to grab power or compete with each other.

    So expect change to happen; then be codified.
    And perhaps church government that is both very papal and very collegial.

  19. Daniel McKernan : There is too much temptation for celebrants to ignore the rubrics & our received tradition at a whim.

    You seem to assume that since the ritual is “received tradition,” it cannot be an offense, i.e., misogynist. I can recall more than one biblical passage in which harsh divine judgment descends upon “received tradition” in temple rituals. If indeed the ritual cannot be reformed because the Church cannot admit it makes liturgical mistakes, the Church ought to discard it rather than reviving it for a generation for whom it is clearly a offense of exclusion against women (and children, “viri” meaning adult males) and God, who excludes none.

  20. With so many things the Holy Father is doing shows that he is a take charge person and makes decisions and doesn’t overly consult in the process. While things may function on a more collegial basis in the future, especially how the curia serves the pope and wider Church, it is still quite top down management by a manager who know how to manage and isn’t afraid of doing so regardless of what the right, left and those in between think. How refreshing is that! And yes, unlike Benedict who modeled but seldom codified, this Holy Father is a codifying sort of person I think, so the conservatives have had their prayers answered sort of! 🙂

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #42:
      I think I hear you saying this:
      “Top down” and “direct things by codifying” is good from a conservative standpoint; Pope Benedict didn’t do this with his ‘conservative’ positions; Pope Francis is doing this with his ‘reformist’ positions; conservatives should be happy because, though it’s the wrong worldview, at least it’s top down.
      Is that it?
      Hey – if you’re happy, I’m happy! 🙂
      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #44:
        That’s it; the status quo doesn’t change, although the ideology might. Of course I’ve always held that the progressives in the post-Vatican II Church have always been more dictatorial, not to cast aspersions on South America’s political history or our new Holy Father. 😉

      2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #45:
        “Of course I’ve always held that the progressives in the post-Vatican II Church have always been more dictatorial,”

        Never miss an opportunity to max out rhetorically.

  21. For “Project of Revision,” Francis Calls A Council
    http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2013/04/for-project-of-revision-francis-calls.html

    Rocco adds some important information

    In retrospect, the idea has apparently been on Francis’ mind since the first days following his election – the new Pope had his first announced audience of any sort with Semeraro on the evening of March 17th, the same night he met with the Father-General of the Jesuits, Adolfo Nicolás.

    The group’s first meeting is slated to take place from 1-3 October – conspicuously, the days immediately prior to the feast of St Francis of Assisi. Beyond Bertello, the only other member of the group to have served in the Curia is Errázuriz who served as Secretary of the “Congregation for Religious” from 1990-96.

    On another front, the Chilean prelate is a former president of the CELAM – the mega-conference of the Latin American bishops – while Gracias is the current head of the umbrella-group of the Asian episcopal conferences, the FABC, and Marx oversees COMECE, the Brussels-based commission of European bishops’ conferences.

    It is interesting that the Pope chose heads or former head of episcopal conferences, however he did not choose Dolan but split the English speaking world between O’Malley and Pell.

    Perhaps there will be a consistory on the Feast of Saint Francis that will also give us a good idea of what the future of the College of Cardinals will look like under this Pope.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #46:
      Jack – would suggest that what is more interesting is that O’Malley was chosen over other North American cardinals – Ouellet or Dolan. Doubt that Dolan *impresses* Francis – he looks for more than *show*.

      Pell is the only cardinal from Oceania – my guess is that this is the only reason that he was chosen.

      1. @Bill deHaas – comment #57:

        Francis has a good relationship with Ouellet and is likely to keep him on as head of the Congregation of Bishops. However, Lombardi emphasized this new group is not meant to substitute for the daily working of the Vatican. Francis is likely to discuss the whole topic of appointment of bishops, and the relative roles of national conferences, papal delegates, and the Congregation of Bishops. Having Ouellet there might result in less candid advice.

        O’Malley had a number of advantages including as John Robert Francis #58 has pointed out his Spanish speaking relationship with Pope Francis. Look however how its structures the American part of the Group since Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras is going to be the “coordinator” of the group. Both of them likely share Pope Francis view of the Americas far more than Dolan would.

        O’Malley’s media style is more like that of Pope Francis and less like that of Dolan. Francis loves the picture that is worth a thousand words (the slums, public transportation or washing the feet of women). Francis gives enough “ad lib” during homilies and speeches that he comes across as fresh and human, but he stays on message. However Francis avoids media interviews. If you just look at the American media operation that was shut down during the pre-conclave, I am sure Francis would not want to contend with Dolan being in the cabinet and being a media star.

        Dolan and the American Bishops whom he represents may have some adjustments to make in both style and substance to fit into Francis vision.

  22. Fr. Allan J. McDonald : With so many things the Holy Father is doing shows that he is a take charge person and makes decisions and doesn’t overly consult in the process. While things may function on a more collegial basis in the future, especially how the curia serves the pope and wider Church, it is still quite top down management by a manager who know how to manage and isn’t afraid of doing so regardless of what the right, left and those in between think. How refreshing is that! And yes, unlike Benedict who modeled but seldom codified, this Holy Father is a codifying sort of person I think, so the conservatives have had their prayers answered sort of!

    It is far too early to come to any conclusions about how the Pope will govern, but I am not sure how Fr McDonald can interpret the news that Pope Francis has appointed eight senior cardinals from all over the world to advise him on the reform of the government of the Church as evidence that he does not like to consult too much.

    1. @Rom Kiul – comment #50:
      Rom – it is not difficult to divine Allan’s rhetoric – keep in mind that most of his *thoughts* are channeled from Fr. Z, EWTN, etc. And he knows all this consulting stuff first hand, of course….let’s see, Francis followed the advice of a fellow cardinal in remembering the poor and choosing the name Francis; now his appointment of 8 cardinals was suggested in the talks prior to the consistory, etc. But, Allan ideological damage control can contort anything – even common sense, evidence, documentation, etc.

  23. Dom Paul Gunter was appointed by the Bishops of England & Wales in Feb 2012. This is the biography they issued at the time.

    “Dom Paul Gunter OSB
    Dom Paul Gunter OSB has now been appointed as Secretary to the Department for Christian Life and Worship of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
    Fr Paul was born in Wolverhampton in 1966 and grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon. He has been a monk of Douai Abbey since 1985 and was ordained priest in 1991 after graduating in theology from Heythrop College, University of London. Over ten years of parish ministry followed, first at Cheltenham in the Diocese of Clifton, then as parish priest of Studley in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
    In 2002, he was sent to Rome to pursue further studies in Liturgy, gaining a Licence in 2004 and a Doctorate in 2006 from the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy attached to Sant’Anselmo, where he has also been organist since 2005. After defending his doctoral thesis, “Edmund Bishop and the Genius of the Roman Rite”, in June 2006, he joined the faculty of the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy and teaches courses and seminars on liturgical history, liturgical theology, and liturgical catechesis. In 2008, he was named a consulter to the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff and in 2010 to the Commission entrusted with the aggiornamento of the 1962 Missal as requested by Summorum Pontificum and under the jurisdiction of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.”

    His considered opinion on this matter is not universally held in England and Wales, despite his official position.

  24. A few years ago we had the practice of each person washing each others feet. it was a real reminder of the command to serve one another. It wasn’t a case of pouring water and drying but a case of warm water and soap being used to cleanse the feet.

  25. “It is precisely because the papal liturgy is a distinct reality in itself, that local churches [cannot] call on its precedent”

    I don’t know how this statement can be justified since it seems that for centuries the papal liturgy was used as a precedent for the Latin liturgy in other parts of Europe.

  26. Cardinal O’Malley has been a friend of the Pope for a number of years. No doubt his flawless Spanish helped in cementing that friendship. Some say Cardinal O’Malley got a handful of votes on the first ballot. He was very popular with the people of Italy.The people of the diocese of Rome would have elected him.

  27. Does anyone want to join me in a Don King-like promotion of a Bill de Haas v. Allan McDonald MMA caged rhetoric bout? We could, like, bail out Kansas City.
    Anyways, regarding the topic wherein I said I don’t have a vested interest. Paying close attention to this Sunday’s gospel at Vigil “(Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Lord you know I do.” “Then feed my lambs, tend my sheep.” That and Friday’s multiplication of the loaves and fish, caused me to reconsider, there’s absolutely no ambiguity or proof of a gender mandate in the former example (feed my lambs, tend my sheep.) If one insists upon literalism and fundamentalism, the Risen Lord DIDN’T MENTION THE RAMS.
    So, maybe we should really lighten up on the rubricist mentality across the board so we can let the Holy Spirit do what s/he had in mind when hovering over HHF. Yes?

  28. I do not truly know any persons’ contentions about the mandatum. That is not for me to know. I must simply respect the dignity of all persons regardless of what they say. I do not mind that women’s feet are washed at the mandatum. All I can do is say a rosary or other act of devotion for peace and reconciliation on this topic.

    I fear, however, that Mass and services are increasingly about who participates and not for Whom we participate. A layperson can go through his or her life without serving Mass, lectoring, administrating the Holy Communion, and participating in the mandatum. Indeed this same person might well achieve an exceptional level of holiness well above those who perform an active role in the Mass. This knowledge of holiness is not known to us, but is an objective state.

    I cannot know of any other person’s spiritual state of affairs, but any time I have performed a liturgical function I have felt a spiritually destructive pride. This indeed might be a weakness of mine and not many others, but the possibility is worth pondering. I sometimes wonder how priests say Mass for years without becoming prideful or conceited — perhaps God’s grace prevents this from occurring to some priests. In any event, I always think: for whom do I participate in this sacrament or rite? If the who is you, then perhaps it is best to shy from crossing the rail.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #65:
      “I fear, however, that Mass and services are increasingly about who participates and not for Whom we participate.”

      SC 7: The Mass is about the sanctification of people as much as the worship of God. Luke 15: more rejoicing over the discovery of holiness than maintaining the status quo.

      ” … any time I have performed a liturgical function I have felt a spiritually destructive pride.”

      I can respect that. But lay or clerical involvement in the liturgy is not meant fot the actors. It is meant to build up faith, and give honor to God.

      Over the years, I have seen and experienced God’s grace at work when situations were less than optimal: my lack of preparation or attention, our recent parish fire and liturgy in exile. God seems to delight in working with human weaknesses. And then there are the people who experience God in extraordinary ways performing ordinary service for others. This is why I feel privileged for being as close to parish liturgy as I am.

    2. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #65:
      “but any time I have performed a liturgical function I have felt a spiritually destructive pride.

      With all due respect to you this is an eccentric view of liturgy and of human spirituality. From a psychology perspective, everything we feel is amoral per se and not destructive either morally, or spiritually.

      The last few postings in this thread are basically asking the question in relation to liturgy: cui bono? The fourth weekday preface in Ordinary Time from the 1973 missal answered that question comprehensively and succinctly: “Our praise adds nothing to your greatness, but makes us grow in your grace.”

      Quite frankly, I find your comments here and in n.67 to be bizarre and unhealthy.

  29. Todd: SC 7: The Mass is about the sanctification of people as much as the worship of God.

    Yes, but this sanctification is never contingent on sight, being seen, or physical gesture in the sanctuary. Sanctification is always objective. At Divine Liturgy, when the Cherubic Hymn ends, the iconostasis doors close, and the priest draws the curtain, am I not sanctified by the holy anaphora sung beyond my vision?

    Since the scaffold of Christian faith in greater society has long since rotted away, all belief must be intellectualized and reduced to that which is tangible, visible, and externally participatory. This reductionist view of belief and sacrament is not a matter of women or of men, mandatum or manducate (cf. 1 Cor. 11:24), but a profound skepticism of the Catholic faith.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #67:
      And yet sight is considered the primary human sense. Sight has been the drive behind many centuries-old Christian traditions: iconography, candles, and most significantly in the devotional realm, Eucharistic adoration. It is part of the Catholic genius to appeal to the senses of the believer. The sight of bare feet combined with the touch of the water and towel has clearly been a powerful experience for so many.

      It is less a matter of proving God beyond personal doubt, but augmenting and developing faith already present.

      You might just as well suggest the Eucharistic elements be perpetually hidden from view for fear it would provoke skepticism. Your argument just doesn’t hold water. Furthermore, it has never quite been how Jesus worked. Nor centuries of Catholic saints and mystics.

      Gerard Flynn’s assessment strike me as a bit extreme. Your choice to withdraw from service deserves the attention of your own discernment and a qualified spiritual director. But man to man, and lacking the appearance of such discernment, I can respect them, even if I find them unfathomable.

  30. In a couple of interviews while still Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina, he said the following which seems to support Jordan Zarembo’s perspective about lay liturgical functionaries in his comments in #65.

    “It’s key that we Catholics, both clergy and laity, go out to meet the people,” he stressed in the 2010 book-length interview, El Jesuita.

    This is “not only because her mission is to announce the Gospel, but because failing to do so harms us. … A Church that limits herself to administering parish work, that lives enclosed within a community, experiences what someone in prison does: physical and mental atrophy.”

    In a 2011 interview with an Argentinian Catholic news agency, he said this contagious spiritual sickness comes from a clericalism that passes from clergy to laypeople.

    “We priests tend to clericalize the laity. We do not realize it, but it is as if we infect them with our own disease. And the laity — not all, but many — ask us on their knees to clericalize them, because it is more comfortable to be an altar server than the protagonist of a lay path. We cannot fall into that trap — it is a sinful complicity.”

    The “reform of the reform” that is needed for the lay person is “neither to clericalize nor ask to be clericalized. The layperson is a layperson and has to live as a layperson with the power of baptism, which enables him to be a leaven of the love of God in society itself, to create and sow hope, to proclaim the faith, not from a pulpit but from his everyday life. And like all of us, the layperson is called to carry his daily cross — the cross of the layperson, not of the priest.”

    Pope Bergogilio in this regard sounds very much in continuity, not in rupture with Pope Emeritus Ratzinger. That’s very good!

    I would also have to say that Pope Francis’ perspective on “Evangelical Catholicism” is quite attractive to those of us in the Bible Belt where the best of Protestantism in this regard has influenced us Catholics for decades and in fact has become a part of the fabric of Catholicism down here, where we have already seen through a scientific poll that the south is far more “religious” than many other parts of the USA, especially the northeast. I find Catholics up north still to be very private in their faith even when we encounter those who still practice their faith. Not so much in the south, we Catholics are a bit more Baptist in wanting to spread the faith and engage our Protestant brothers and sisters in spreading the faith, not by what the laity do at Church but where they live, work and play. So, invite a friend who is not Catholic to Church next Sunday, even if that person has a Church, the Baptists do it all the time down here and welcome their neighbors who move into their neighborhood by inviting them to their church.

  31. I read the report in The Tablet, and I did wonder whether this was a pronouncement that Dom Paul had made unbidden or whether (which seems the more charitable) it was in response to a particular question posed by The Tablet.
    I would not want to read too much into it without knowing a little more about the context in which the comment arose.

    1. @Jonathan How – comment #70:

      Thank you. My comment was in direct response to a question posed by Christopher Lamb of the Tablet on 2 April 2013. “I was wondering if you could answer a question on the Maundy Thursday washing of the feet. Given Pope Francis’ visit to the case del marmo jail where he washed the feet of men and women. Does this now mean it is legitimate for the feet of women to be washed in the Maundy Thursday liturgy? I know that liturgical law as it stands says it is only men who should have their feet washed.”

      1. @Father Paul Gunter OSB – comment #75:

        The problem with Dom Paul’s response is that it was incorrect. Liturgical law does not not say that only men may have their feet washed, and Christopher Lamb was incorrect in stating this when he asked the question. Liturgical law nowhere contains a prohibition on women having their feet washed. Even if you accept the “chosen men” as a recommendation, the rubric still does not say that “chosen women” may not have their feet washed in addition to the “chosen men”. Others have pointed out that what the law does not expressly forbid is permitted.

        His additional problem was in stating that the washing of feet was intrinsically connected to priesthood. Other fora have already dissected this in great detail, and demonstrated that it is not tenable. What may be tenable is that the washing of feet could be intrinsically connected to Eucharist, but not to priesthood.

        Thirdly, if it is possible the Catholic Press will always get it wrong. It is perfectly possible that The Tablet may well have misrepresented Dom Paul’s views. They have misrepresented many other views in the past. You take your life in your hands when talking to anyone in the Press. And they never ever print your corrections.

    2. @Jonathan How – comment #70:

      I have every sympathy with Fr. Gunter.

      The two journalists would have sensed a ‘story’ in Pope Francis’ actions and of course they went straight to an ‘official’ spokesman for Liturgy. He was correct in what he said (i.e., that’s what the Book says). But he was taken advantage of.

      I guess Fr. G. might be musing on his experience of being ‘set up’ like that. I am sure that as a priest and a monk he is as harmless as doves. However, he might do well to pray to the Lord for a measure of the guile of the serpent when dealing with the Press.

      Motto: in dealing with journalists, never play the game according to their rules.

      More broadly, everyone knows that what the Pope did happens, more or less, in hundreds of parishes in the Catholic world. So who was imitating whom?

      Alan Griffiths.

  32. Rakosky #46
    deHass #57
    jRF #58
    Rakosky#62
    KLS # 64

    Rocco fleshes out our discussion of O’Malley highlighting

    Language: “who still says his private prayers in Spanish”

    Relationship “among the few prelates from outside New England who O’Malley invited to his scaled-back installation in Boston in 2003 – only one of two cardinals in attendance on the day – was Oscar Rodríguez, one of his closest friends on the wider scene, now the “coordinator” of Francis’ super-group.”

    Reform “ the new archbishop knew to move quickly, both symbolically (vacating the palatial Cardinal’s Residence in Brighton for an apartment in the gritty South End’s cathedral rectory) and substantively, reaching an $85 million settlement of over 500 cases within a six weeks of taking the reins.”

    Francis’ Friar – O’Malley, The “Super-Cardinal”

    http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2013/04/francis-friar-omalley-super-cardinal.html

    Along those lines, maybe the Big Question is the Franciscan one: having groused in the Conclave’s wake over being made to don the robes of office more during the transition than he had “in the last seven years,” will O’Malley get to wear his beloved habit – as opposed to the normally requisite filettata – during October’s “super-commission” summit.

  33. H/T to Rocco; as the blogger notes this is one of those stories about the Pope for which it is difficult to get official confirmation, but it is relevant to our discussion of “rules.”

    Pope Francis prepares sandwich for Swiss Guard outside his bedroom

    http://afriarslife.blogspot.com/2013/04/pope-francis-prepares-sandwich-for.html

    A few days ago, at dawn, the time the Pope wakes up, he came out to the corridor, and he found in front of his door the sentry, a Swiss Guard standing with his halberd at attention.

    He asked him: “And what are you doing here? Have you been up all night
    Pope Francis looked at him again with kindness, went back to his suite and after a minute he came out carrying a chair: “At least sit down and rest.”

    The guard rolled his eyes and answered: “Santo Padre, forgive me, but I cannot! The regulations do not allow that.”

    “The regulations?”

    “Orders from my captain, Your Holiness.”

    The Pope smiled, “Oh, really? Well, I’m the Pope and I order you to sit down

    After a couple of minutes, the Pope came back to the Swiss Guard, still obediently seated on the chair, carrying “panino con marmellata” (Italian bread with jam) which he had prepared. Before the soldier could say anything, the Holy Father, exhibiting his Argentinean smile, told the Swiss Guard, “With all the hours spent standing on guard you must be a bit hungry.” The Swiss Guard had no time to object because the Pope right away wished him a good bite: “Bon appetit, brother.”

  34. Fr. Paul Gunter stressed that papal liturgy should not be seen as the exemplar for other liturgies. “It is precisely because the papal liturgy is a distinct reality in itself, that local churches [cannot] call on its precedent to dispense themselves from norms that apply to the whole Church,” he said.

    However Pastor Bonus does not appear to forsee that the papal liturgy is a distinct reality in itself

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jp-ii_apc_19880628_pastor-bonus-other-institutes_en.html

    Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff .

    Art. 182 — § 1. The Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff is to prepare all that is necessary for the liturgical and other sacred celebrations performed by the Supreme Pontiff or in his name and supervise them according to the current prescriptions of liturgical law.

    It seems to me that we ought to assume that the interpretations done for the Pope’s liturgy are among the those possible for other local churches.

  35. Jordan, the rites which are full of beauty and meaning for you fail to convey that to me and most members of the church. I’m quite sure you do not think of yourself as among a remnant of illuminati who has been given a special revelation. To say that worship is for God and then to dismiss its obvious role of affecting and forming the worshipers seems to strike at the very purpose of SC and the work of Paul VI and the world’s bishops following the council. I realize the celebration of the NO cannot be counted upon to be celebrated with the kind of reverence which you see as essential, but the same can certainly be said about the TLM. I have spent the last forty years doing my best to catechize God’s priestly and holy people to offer the mass with devout thanks and praise and with humble and contrite hearts. This includes training liturgical ministers to carry out their duties as servant leaders who are not superior to those they are serving. I’ve participated in the Divine Liturgies of the Eastern churches. They certainly are fascinating to watch but they are obviously predicated on a notion that clergy and laity live in their own distinctive worlds. And none of their clergy cares a wit that people are free to come and go as they choose during these very long rites. I’m glad that the EF is available for you and for those who are mystified by it.

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #76:

      Father Jack, I am sure you are well beloved by your parish. I sense that you genuinely care for and are attentive to the spiritual and emotional well being of your parishioners. I’m sure you’re a good confessor, because you are very observant.

      The priest who taught me Latin in high school was, what I thought at the time, extremely absentminded. I would walk into class and invariably find him saying his rosary softly or reading from his breviary. When he said the rosary, he would blankly stare at the window. At Mass for the community or for students he would often pause for a few seconds, look at the paten or the missal, meditate intently, and then continue praying the eucharistic prayer slowly and intently. But for his sermon at the Christmas Mass he would inevitably quote Peanuts or Ziggy in an animated manner, and have everyone chuckling.

      Father F. knew the time and place for abstract thought, and a time and place for reaching people’s hearts. I know abstract thought very well; it is my constant friend. Even so, I stumble blindly through human emotion, breaking all the china in the shop. Father F. went to his reward recently. I never bothered to ask him how to respond with love to very emotional and contentious questions such as the mandatum, or laypersons administering the eucharist. He is gone now and cannot teach me most of what he knows about how to relate to others, but he taught me some knowledge by example.

      Father F. also missed celebrating the Tridentine Mass. “That was then, this is now”, he would say, staring out the window.

  36. To Fr Paul Gunter, at #75:-
    You wrote to ‘The Tablet’ that Pope Francis “had legitimately dispensed himself from liturgical norms but that his was a unique pastoral context”. Do you mean by this that he could not (or should not) have dispensed himself if he had been in a church rather than a prison?
    Mark (an English catholic layman).

  37. Liturgical law nowhere contains a prohibition on women having their feet washed.

    As we discussed in the other thread, liturgical law is, for the most part, prescriptive, descriptive or hortatory, it tells you what to do with varying levels of authority, not what you can’t do. The rubric doesn’t say an infinite variety of things, but that’s because it tells you what to do, not what not to do.

    1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #81:

      I’m sorry, Sam. The rubric does not tell you what to do. It simply talks about “the chosen men” without further qualification. This is descriptive, but not hortatory nor prescriptive. It does not say that women are forbidden. (Even Solemnitatis Paschale para 51 does not do that.) That is the entire point. It does not, as you say, tell you what not to do, and so for Charles Lamb and Paul Gunter to say that it forbids the washing of women’s feet is palpably untrue. That is my point, You may argue that it tells us what to do, but in fact it does not even do that. It simply states that the chosen men are led to their seats. If you can see in that an explicit prohibition on women in this statement, you are much more imaginative than I am. All I can see is a reference to men. No prohibition of women. Point final.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #82:
        An excellent point, Paul.
        To argue that the the reference to ‘chosen men’ excludes the washing of women’s feet would be similar to attempting to argue that the English translation of the CCC, because of its exclusive language, applies and refers only to males.

        If nothing else, this false argument underlines the importance of using inclusive language.

      2. @Gerard Flynn – comment #86:
        Except that the rubrics are not written first in English, but in Latin, where a word for males is used, not a word that has the flexibility of the English “men”. And this was done repeatedly over many years and different documents.

      3. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #87:
        It’s easy to see how the use of exclusive terms at a linguistic level, whether careless or wilful, can be used to argue for an exclusive interpretation at the theological.

  38. The rubric does not tell you what to do.

    Of course it does. Even if it’s just descriptive, it describes how the ceremony is carried out and thereby tells us how to conduct it. If it’s not telling us what to do, then we wouldn’t know how to do it.

    It does not say that women are forbidden.

    Nor does it say in any official document that that they are permitted.

    That is the entire point. It does not, as you say, tell you what not to do, and so for Charles Lamb and Paul Gunter to say that it forbids the washing of women’s feet is palpably untrue.

    It’s a logical consequence. The rubrics tell you to use the chrism for confirmation. They forbid you from using the oil of the sick, not explicitly, but by logical implication.

    1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #83:

      Sam, I draw your attention yet again to GIRM 20. It’s the spiritual welfare of the people that is paramount in deciding how to select and arrange the forms and elements proposed by the Church.

      Also to earlier versions of GIRM in which the description of the Mass following that paragraph was headed in the Latin as forma typica, translated as “The Typical Form” but equally possibly “A Typical Form”.

    2. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #83:

      If it’s not telling us what to do, then we wouldn’t know how to do it.

      Come on. There are a myriad things that GIRM and the Missal do not tell us how to do, and yet we manage to do them just fine. The point of rubrics is that they are intended to facilitate the “nigrics”; they are not ends in themselves. This discussion reminds me of the rubric of former times which stated “The bishop enters wearing nothing but the mitre”.

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