Monday, April 12, 2004
Footprints I thought we passed this speed bump years ago. People are still trying to connect washing feet to Holy Orders? While I wouldn't deny a bishop has the power to make judgments about the gender of wet and dried feet, they still can't come up with better explanations than "the Vatican says so" or "we never used to wash women's feet at liturgy." Let's review the case against Archbishop Donoghue and others: - Footwashing only appears in John's gospel, and in connection with "disciples," not the Twelve. - If washing feet and the Eucharist both took place at the Last Supper, and both involved only men, then what's the distinction? Jesus didn't share the Eucharist with women either. - If footwashing is supposed to be connected with Orders, then why wasn't the ritual put into the ordination rite? Or the Chrism Mass? - The Roman Missal doesn't even specify "twelve" to be washed. - Humble service and charity is supposed to be the mark of priesthood alone? Why was footwashing so closely associated with the poor instead of with priests? It makes little sense to me for conservative pastors to be turning this ritual into a political demonstration of the chasm between men and women, laity and clergy. Archbishop O'Malley, at least, publicly said it is not his personal custom. That argument flows better than the pseudo-connection between washing feet and priesthood. Lacking something sensible to say, perhaps it is best to just say nothing at all, lest a clerical foot slips from basin to mouth.