Vatican defends Pope Francis’ washing of women’s feet

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Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter's Square on Tuesday (March 19) at the Vatican. World leaders flew in for Pope Francis' inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square on Tuesday where Latin America's first pontiff will receive the formal symbols of papal power.  RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini

Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter's Square on Tuesday (March 19) at the Vatican. World leaders flew in for Pope Francis' inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square on Tuesday where Latin America's first pontiff will receive the formal symbols of papal power. RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini

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VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican dismissed criticism of Pope Francis' decision to wash the feet of two women during a Maundy Thursday Mass at a Rome youth prison.

  • Sekar

    God created man: man and woman. to serve and not to be served is the root of values of our Lord. Washing the feet of a female is not the question. Man and woman are God’s own image. Pope Francis did what we are told to do. Can a traditionalist say ‘my wife is not equal as I am in the eyes of our Lord?’

  • Christ would wash all peoples feet,He was a loving God and did not didmiss any person who was willing to come to Him.what a joy to have such a God .he is worthy of all praise and glory from all.

  • gilhcan

    This is sick! What is the mentality, religious or otherwise, that might even begin to inspire such questioning. Women are part of the world. Women are part of the human race. Women carry and deliver the rest of the human race. Religion is about caring and kindness–I thought. This is so sick! We can only hope that Francis will not hesitate one bit in bringing the old, sick, Catholic Church up to date, up to religion, up to Jesus!

  • gilhcan

    No need for any excuse! Those who query are lost!

  • gilhcan

    Should we be surprised that those who are satisfied with an ancient, dead language they do not understand, just noise, in their rituals would raise ridiculous questions like these?

  • gilhcan

    John Zuhlsdorf isn’t “conservative,” he’s not even a Jesus follower. He’s invigorated by the large, royal, pompous nature of old Catholic management and ritual. Zuhlsdorf’s thinking is distorted. He missed out on logic completely in his seminary years. How does he exclude women from the human race and from those about whom Jesus cared, those he served? As I recall, Jesus had a mother. Her name was Mary. Wonder if Zuhlsdorf only did favors for his mother Mary to ultimately keep her doing his laundry? Anyone with self-respect in a church where Zuhlsdorf preaches this nonsense should get up and walk out–and slam the doors! Leave him alone with his macho club!

  • Alvin M.

    Read for yourself the piece by Ed Peters, which is linked to above. The author of this article does not clearly represent the nuance of Peters’ view.

  • Sacerdotus

    Ed Peters, along with the majority of Catholics, should simply have applauded the Bishop of Rome for his ministry to the prisoner. Peters can place himself with other fundamentalists who can drive a positive act into the ground. No one said he was wrong, just lacking in pastoral skill.

  • Gea

    Having women priests and married priests would greatly improve the Catholic Church whose pedophile priests had made the teachings of Jesus a mockery. Good for Pope Francis! This is the most Christ like behavior of inclusion that a new Pope did. Perhaps we can really hope for a true Catholic Church which will follow the teachings of equality that Jesus had preached and practiced.

    It is high time to stop male domination of the Catholic Church and become true followers of Jesus’s teachings.

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  • Joe Giardina

    In the past 50 years, there has been a noticeable shift in the manifest papal trappings from monarch to supreme pastor as the prevailing worldwide cultural and political environments have evolved. This is in keeping with the Church’s ongoing 2000 year metamorphosis to preserve itself for it’s perpetual mission of evangelism.

    The main stream media is allowing Pope Francis a brief “Honeymoon” period as he discards or alters certain liturgical forms. After using these instances to indirectly bash Pope Benedict’s style in comparison they will surely revert to their raison d’etre which is to attempt to undermine church teaching.

    They will savagely turn on Francis once he reiterates age-old positions regarding the brutal killing of unborn children through abortion and homosexual marriage.The media will never be successful, despite their constant use of a false traditional- progressive dichotomy. Especially now, that the once liberal viewpoint news monopoly has ended.

    One can never be, “More Catholic than the Pope.”

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  • Bill Hocter

    There’s no need to be more Catholic than the Pope. We should try to cultivate an attitude of docility about such things.

  • Matthew Kilburn

    Women cannot be Priests. Simple as that. Women cannot act in the presence of Christ. Eucharist “consecrated” by a woman would remain simply bread, and a confessor granted absolution by a woman would remain stained by mortal sin. If it was possible for women to be Priests, possible for them to directly perform the actions of Christ, then why didn’t Christ himself include them directly in his inner circle? Why were they not at the last supper? Because it was a patriarchal time? Christ certainly wasn’t afraid to ruffle feathers, so I doubt that would have stopped him. Because he himself was prejudiced? That borders on blasphemy. There is simply no solid biblical basis for the inclusion of women in the function of Priests.

    All that said, I don’t necessarily have a problem with what the Pope did….but this Pope needs to start realizing that every action, every choice, every simple personal preference he has will be closely scrutinized. If the Pope had come out and said “I’ve decided to extend this ritual beyond the Priests, to those the Priests serve”, then I don’t think anyone would have complained. But he needs to spend more time explaining WHY he does things.

  • poet234

    I really think that for you to speak this way makes you sound like a misogynistic knuckle-dragging troglydite–surely you are not are you? Perhaps just someone who must have someone to exclude if the club is to be really satisfying?

  • Sacerdotus

    This pope does realize that every action he takes will be scrutinized. That is probably why he does what he does. The days of lace and roman vestments are over. Thanks be to God.

  • Susan

    Women were present at the Last Supper, but Jesus chose to wash the feet of his disciples only. Only an arrogant man would alter this simple rite to achieve personal ends.

  • emeka

    Is pope francis, in any way trying to tell the world that he is a better pastor than Christ Himself? A good number of the pope’s act has been seen to be in sharp contrast with those of his predecessors. As a catechumen, i was taught in my local parish that the church teaches just once on an issue and that such teachings is usually an infallible truth. The pope has to understand that his actions are examplary teachings. The doctrines and traditions of the church are sacred and as such, should not be desecrated. If St. Peter had decided not to do as he saw Christ do, there wouldn’t have been any thing apostolic about the church. Please your Holiness, stop destroying our traditions just because you are the supreme pontiff.

  • Sacerdotus

    You need to repeat the RCIA in a church that is not caught up in who is infallible. Such a narrow view of reality is not catholic.

  • Dianne Martin

    I agree with all your comments.

  • Dianne Martin

    Matthew Kilburn…I agree with you.

  • Sacerdotus

    I hope you remember your words when our leaders inform us that women can indeed be priests. Maybe not in our lifetime, I know.

  • Susan

    Most biblical historians believe that women were present at the Last Supper. Maybe they didn’t make it into Da Vinci’s painting, but they were probably there. In those days, women were the ones who prepared the Passover Supper. Who else do you think was slaving away in the kitchen that night?

  • Gea

    Since when does one need a penis to preach the teachings of Jesus? Since when a penis is necessary for a symbolic transfiguration of a wafer into a “body of Christ” BTW, I always had a problem with this symbolic cannibalism of a Catholic church ;-)! Why does one need to eat Jesus to accept his teachings?

    Before the men dominated the church, women followers of Jesus were just as important as men. There is absolutely NO reason why WOMEN could not be priests in a Catholic church and even a Pople…

  • Ralph

    You’re not the only one uncomfortable with this “cannibalism” claim:
    “The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” … Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?

  • Ralph

    Actually, I think things should be exactly all the other way around. I hope the world updates itself to the teachings of the Church, and not the other way around. Religion is not about caring and kindness. That is a consequence of the first, which is to provide for the means of salvation for anyone who seeks it. How are women being denied those means?

  • Ralph

    There are women teachers in public schools, and there is no celibacy requirement there. However, the incidence of sexual abuse far outpaces anything done by priests or anywhere else.

  • Ralph

    Can you please elaborate on how he excludes women from the human race? Where did he say that?

  • Mike in Wisconsin

    Ralph, The view that you expressed here is the very reason that the Nones is the fastest growing category of religious identity in the U.S. Organized religion has become obsolete and should either be retooled or altogether abandoned.

  • Gea

    Jesus WAS and STAYED a JEW and was preaching mostly to the Jews, urging them to be better Jews and follow the teachings of the Tora, especially the Decalogue. He himself was a Pharisee rabbi who was against hypocrisy of the official clergy Sadducees in the Temple and urged Jews to follow the teachings of the Tora (which includes 10 commandments). Jesus also followed other Jewish laws, which he urged his followers to follow too, thus he was an observent Jew.

    If was Paul who dispensed with the Jewish law and substituted it with symbolic cannibalism, blamed Jews for crucifixion of Jesus, in order to get Gentiles to join his church and Romans to stop harassing them…it is uncertain if Jesus ever taught the transfiguration…It doe snot seam likely, since Judaism is very much against consumption of blood, and certainly has nothing to do with cannibalism…

    Having women priests will make Catholic Church much better…then having a bunch of celibate frustrated male priests who often take their frustration on innocent children who are given to them for guidance and not for molesting.

  • Ralph

    Nones is just a fad that will disappear in one or two generations. Organized religion or Islam will eventually take over. Why should organized religion be retooled? Why are these generations so much more special than the countless others that preceded them?

  • Ralph

    I must infer from your comment that you were there with Jesus, as all credible sources that described what happened there contradict your statements.
    Regarding Paul, all his teachings were accepted by the Church that included Jesus immediate disciples.
    Regarding the “symbolic cannibalism”, I refer you to the Didache, which is older than most gospels, and already include that eating of the flesh of Jesus, which I already quoted from the gospel of John.
    So, unless you were there, I really have no reason to believe what you are saying.

  • mdsmd77

    Let’s hope that this pope continues to follow Jesus’ real example. Jesus came to prepare us for Kingdom not on earth but in heaven. All this pomp and circumstance was not what Jesus was about. Jesus was about love and forgiveness. Easy to say Difficult to do. Ask any one who has been harmed by another, had his property stolen, had his home stolen, had his farm stolen, etc etc
    Pope Francis I you have chose the right path but it is frought with danger.

  • Rick Ward

    I cannot believe what people will argue about. The pope washed a woman’s feet? This is something your wring your hands over? You need to see your counselor right away and adjust your medication.

  • David A Ghosh

    I believe,it is not wrong or sin to wash and kiss the feet of women. Our Pope Francis I has done a good work. First we took birth and seen the world from whose womb? surely from a WOMAN womb, and call her mother.
    If we fail to respect women,we are not men but a nasty creature.
    POapacy is correct and he follows the correct way and did a wonderful work.

    David Ghosh

  • Sandra

    I guess you don’t know your Bible. There were NO WHEN present at the Last Super!

  • Sandra

    Sorry, swypo on my phone. Should say women* not when. There were NO WOMEN at the Last Supper.

  • Sandra

    It’s Pope Francis! No number after it! Just Pope Francis.

  • Sandra

    When did Father Zuhlsdorf exclude women or say that he excludes women or want to exclude women? I want proof, sources, video of him saying this. If you mean exclude women from priesthood, then of course he would be right. Women should not be priests. … I still want proof that Father said he excludes women.

  • Sandra

    WOMEN CAN NEVER BE PRIESTS. Since Jesus is the only High Priest, then only MEN can be priests. The Church is the BRIDE of Christ which makes its gender female. We call the Church, Holy Mother Church and she teaches us the faith. If a woman were to say a Mass, it would be a lesbian relationship and so it would NOT be a valid Mass and therefore no consecration and no Jesus.

    When a man becomes a priest, he marries the Church. One man, one woman. Jesus is our High Priest, HE is a MAN and so only a man can become a Priest.

  • Sandra

    Since when? Since God decided to become MAN and not woman. You do know that Jesus was a man right and that because of that, He also has all the body parts of a man. And when a man becomes a Priest, he marries the Church. We call the Church, Holy Mother Church. SHE teaches us the faith. Women can NEVER be Priests. The Holy Spirit would never consecrate the host and wine through a woman. Since Jesus is our High Priest and He is a man, then only men can be priests.

  • Chuck Gleason

    First and foremost, women make sandwiches. If all of the sandwiches needed for any given event have been made, what ever else happens after that is cool by me. I will not slice things so thin as to say if the sandwiches should be prepared dry with condiments readily available on the side, or completely dressed. I will leave those nuanses to the liturgical scholars. Personally, I will have a roast beef, cheddar, lettuce and tomato with mayo and a splash of yellow mustrad. Chop chop!!

  • Rev John Leigh

    Pardon me for shaking my head. I do that when I stumble upon ignorance in the guise of religious fundamentalism. You see it among Protestant who only see what is written in their english bibles. They quote but do not understand. While reading the above comments, that head starting shaking, but it was Catholic fundamentalists (why are they called conservatives?) who quote the bible when it serves them, creeds, doctrines, and papal pronouncements, picking and choosing the quotes and the interpretations that serve them. My head gets tired wagging away from the sniping and poor use of sources to serve an agenda of fear, anger, sexism, and some bordering on hate. Father, forgive them. They really do not know what they are doing. Blindness abounds.

  • That is excelent statement! This liturgical abuse has made many concerned Catholics sad, disturbed and confused. Poor pope Benedict XVI whom he had fought so hard against mordernism and tried to bring the Church back to traditional, solid faith. Sorry B16. All your good efforts have gone down to the drain and became in vain now. There will be a lot of chaos in the church from now on. May Holy Spirit guide Pope Francis and protect the Catholic Church from fierce attack of modernism which Satan employs to destroy the Church.

  • Bravo, Emeka. This is straightforward! If he did it with a purpose he has opened the door for liberalism come in to divide, undermine the Catholic church. I pray that Holy Spirit straighten him up and guide him to follow B16’s efforts. Liberalism is a sin!

  • Sandra, Thanks a lot. It is so lound and clear. Periode.

  • Matthew, many of us are still waiting his apology and explain. With his violation of liturgical law that has caused a lot of turmois, disappoint and uncomfort in the church. Lord Jesus Christ help us!

  • Moral Proposal to Francis
    Proposal about rise Moral of Humanity
    Dear Pope Francis,

    In the world take place the moral degradation. Unfortunately, all kinds of religions cannot stop this process only their real possibilities, absence of mutual understanding and effective cooperation. As a result of absence of due education at youth high of morals level of relations of people the modern mankind cannot provide itself in a necessary measure with useful, rational image of getting of means to a normal life. Economic crises, wars, robberies, murders proceed.
    For some reason people do not realize simple TRUE: the reason, (base) of all unreasonable actions of people and bad conditions of their life on a planet the Earth is a wild way of life, absence of education at youth of useful moral qualities of the person: goodwill, honesty, decency, own advantage without a damage to other people, aspirations to all fine, elegance, respect of wisdom, benevolent politeness, tolerance, delicacy, modesty, etc.
    There has come time the Earth on the basis of observance in a life of reasonable natural mutual relations of the people stated by founders of the most widespread religions of the world (is time) for the organization of international propagation of high norms of morals, education of intelligent relations of people in all states of our planet: the Buddha, Christ and Mohammed.
    Bitterly to realize the fact that presently by use of mass media and, first of all, TV, frank immorality is constantly propagandized. For example, ways of a robbery, physical mockeries and murder of people, and also advertising, violence, dishonesties, cynicism, permissiveness, illegal actions for enrichment of criminals by any way; etc.
    At the same time, for the decision of the above-stated problem of change of living conditions of people it is necessary to take advantage effectively of results of progressive development of the international TV.
    Unlike religious cents of the United Nations Organization (UNO) possesses unique possibility of coordination of actions of the governments of all countries of the world. Therefore (in connection with circumstances) the greatest effect of re-education of mankind it is possible to reach by the organization on air of the Intelligent Television Channel of the United Nations Organization.
    If the UNO (Ban Ki-Moon) agree with idea of necessity of global re-education of moral shape of people on the Earth (in the world) in commonwealth with attendants of religious communities we can by commonwealth with you quickly develop and present to the UNO the Concept of work of the Intelligent Television Channel (ITC of the UNO). We are ready to develop and present immediately to you for the coordination our vision (representation) of the Concept of all basic spheres of intelligent unostentatious propagation of high morals, the organization of reasonable beautiful living conditions of the person on the Earth on the basis of high ethics. Your personal great prestige will provide a substantiation and a recognition of necessity of acceptance of the positive decision in the United Nations.
    At further (subsequent) our contact it suggested to use any variant of the name (on your discretion) United Nations Television Channel: «The True Tree», «Honour and Conscience», «The Reasonable Future», «Reasonable and Useful», «Reason, Advantage, Beauty», etc.

    In 2008 after publication of the philosophical treatise “INTELLIGENCE”, (Choogin V.V. and Chepelyuk E.V., ISBN 978-966-2207-01-9), SUPREME CREATOR has visited my brains, has removed restriction on far-sighted reflections, has lifted above clouds, has provided clearness of understanding of the validity and has charged to think over process of perfection of a life on a planet the Earth.
    Since 2009 I have started to write down separate thoughts in writing-books.
    On July, 07th, 2010 SUPREME has sent me the Envoy in the name of the small beautiful butterfly of yellow colour who has sat down to me on a brush of a hand and did not leave it in the course of installation of four support for the future summer-house which has been conceived for reflections and fixation of new thoughts in writing-books. This «Sign of God» has definitively convinced me of necessity of a writing of the Way of Mankind for the Uniform State “EARTH DWELLERS” for ordinary workers of people all over the world (not for rich oligarchs).
    Till December, 31st 2012, I have written eight writing-books.
    From January, 01st, till April, 04th, 2013 all thoughts have been placed on the computer.
    Now I am engaged in updating and polishing of the text of four heads of the fundamental philosophical treatise «Domination of Nonsense, Primitive State and Power of Reason, Virtue on a way to Reasonable and Just State». I assume to finish by October, 2013 editing of all text of the treatise.
    The form of a statement of a real way to the Future is presented in the form of a spoken language for accessible understanding of the maintenance by ordinary workers worldwide. Certainly, I understand the first negative reaction of “experts”: «Author has gone mad!», «It is all to carry out not really!», ЕТС. But me the opinion of modern heads of the states and philosophers does not interest, as I carry out the commission of SUPREME CREATOR. I accurately realize one true: all simple citizens will welcome a reasonable, fair way for them in the Future State “EARTH DWELLERS” for achievement of normal living conditions and development of the abilities and talents.

    The first edition of the treatise in small quantity of copies (at least 100) is expedient for carrying out in perfect Russian language for preservation of all subtleties, nuances of my reflections. The second publication of this work is rational for spending in English language for use in all countries.
    I understand a negative reality of a situation: in our country nobody will resolve treatise publication for reviews of “experts” will be negative! Surprisingly, but in the Middle Ages the publication of works of thinkers even in case of presence of the bitter truth of life of those times was carried out! Then it could be carried out, and now it is possible to publish only works on advantage to oligarchs. Primitive state is frank!
    After October I am waited by great difficulties with procedure of the edition of the treatise about basic features of the organization and useful functioning of the Reasonable, Just State on the basis of high ethics of Intellectual Intelligence.

    With big respect,

    Valeriy Vitalievich CHOOGIN
    Academician of Ukrainian Technological Academy,
    Dr. Sc. (Technical), Professor.

    Kherson, UKRAINE

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  • Rob

    Ralph, please give us a definitive, litmus test example of how a woman would/could be excluded from the human race. Your comment is absurd. Excluding women from participation and engagement in the church, as members of the body of Christ with no compelling rationale other than the mere fact that they are women and not men is indefensible. Exclusion is exclusion even if it lesser than exclusion from the human race (whatever that means). Jesus never turned away any of those who sought him, regardless of their societal state. Why do you?

  • MagenD

    “Eucharist “consecrated” by a woman would remain simply bread, and a confessor granted absolution by a woman would remain stained by mortal sin.”

    In truth – Eucharist “consecrated” by woman turns to Chocolate Cake and is called “Devil’s Food”!!!

    And a Confessor granted Absolution by “Anyone” (“All are Sinful, falling short”) short of G-d in heaven remains Stained by mortal Sin!!!

    Who can forgive sin but He who is the Author of the Law?! Sin is only commited by those who break the Law. According to Christ – All are Lawbreakers. And so how is a Lawbreaker qualified to absolve the sin of and/or pardon another Lawbreaker?! They are Not!!! And is why the Accuser’s of the Prostitute ALL dropped their stones and returned from whence they had come!!! I assure you – any Priest or Prophet living today – up to and including the Roman Pontif himself – would likewise have Dropped their stones!!!
    And yet, I’m no Catholic – but would seem to me – that Pope Francis just may be the most Christ like Pope to date!!!

  • MagenD

    “Poet234?!” – say’s it all!!!
    ‘nough said!!!

    Why involve yourself with the truly complex?! You’ll only achieve a headache and pass younger than you should have!!! Reality T.V. and National Enquierer were concieved with folks like yourself in mind – what a fan base they’ve amassed?!

    Run along now – before you miss the latest episode of “Snookie & JWOWW”!!!

  • MagenD

    Key words in the 1st part of your comment:

    Would be thrown out of any court as mere speculation!!!

    “In those (Jesus’s) days, women were (doing what they should) the ones who prepared the Passover Supper (Obviously, Jesus himself agreed with the idea). Who else do you think was slaving away in the kitchen that night? (Who do you think SLAVED in the field to grow the ingredients?! Or SLAVED in the sun to build the Kitchen and the house?! Jesus himself was a craftsman by trade).
    So – you truly consider cooking supper for G-D Slave Labor?!
    I feel sorry for your husband!!! (And please don’t say you don’t have one because I’ll just respond: I wonder why!!!)

  • MagenD

    “You truly consider cooking supper for G-D Slave Labor?!”

    If you do, I’de REPENT of that if I was you!!! He DIED for that Supper!!! I think I’de have been HONORED to cook supper for Jesus?!!! And I’m a dude!!!

  • MagenD

    Did not Jesus himself have something to say concerning the “Vain” Traditions of Men?!
    Forget your “Vain” Catholic Traditions – Learn Jesus!!!

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  • Marilyn Warren

    Jesus chose to wash the feet of 12 men because of two important things to a Jew. Women had no standing in Jewish life. They were to serve men and to have babies. That’s all. Women were very present. Who do you think cooked the supper? The apostles? Hardly. You only need to read the bible to see how women were treated and thought of. If a woman were raped, she was usually stoned or otherwise killed either by her family or the law. She could not testify on her own behalf. The woman at the well went nameless, the apostles castigated Jesus many times because he talked to and listened to women, and worst yet, he talked to and listened to children Jewish women in the time of Jesus were treated much as most Arab women are today, in most Moslem controlled countries today. It would have been anathema to the Jews of his day. They would never have ever thought of it. You can see how the important women to Jesus were treated when he ascended. Mary Magdalene was first called a liar and then exorcised from the gospels. Mother Mary was never heard from after Pentacost. They made sure every one of their company was written into history, but not our dear Mother. By rejecting women, he would have had to reject his mother, which he would never have done. After all, He assumed her, body and soul into heaven. When you say it is wrong to wash the feet of a woman, then you are saying any man, be he criminal or not, was held to be in higher standing than Mary in the eyes of Jesus. Never happen. Besides, if you believe the Pope to be infallible in all things biblical and liturgical, then it is kosher as long as he says it is. (No doubt Mary was busy cooking in the kitchen or in another house with a kitchen, making the Last Supper.) Ergo, women were there in one capasity or another.

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