Women have no place in foot washing ceremony


To the Editor:

I was surprised to see on the front page of the RI Catholic for 27 March a photograph of a priest washing the feet of a young woman during a Holy Thursday liturgy. While it has unfortunately become somewhat common to include women in the "Mandatum" or Washing of Feet on Holy Thursday, this practice is directly contrary to the rubrics contained in the Sacramentary, which specify that the feet of 12 men are to be washed.

This is explicitly reiterated in a 1988 letter (Paschales Solemnitatis) issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship which goes on to state that "This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained." No ambiguity there.

In the present day we are blessed to have a Pope who is placing considerable emphasis on restoring dignity and solemnity to the Church's liturgy. However, it is obvious that some have not yet gotten the message. Displaying a photograph like that on the front page of the diocesan newspaper – and a similar picture on page 8 – sends the wrong message to the clergy and faithful and implies that liturgical abuses are really "no big deal." There will always be those who will substitute their own judgment for the directives of the Church, but a Catholic newspaper should avoid covering them in a manner which implies validation.

Allen M. Maynard

North Carver, MA