Every year the issue comes up, and every year at my Novus Ordo parish, and at countless Novus Ordo parishes, the feet of women are washed, despite what Rome has written on the subject in the past.
Here is what the Sacramentary says: The men [vir] who have been chosen are led by the ministers to chairs prepared in a suitable place. Then the priest (removing his chasuble if necessary) goes to each man. With the help of the ministers, he pours water over each one's feet and dries them.
This is what Paschale Solemnitatis (the circular letter on Holy Week issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments) says concerning this: 51. The washing of the feet of chosen men which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the service and charity of Christ, who came "not to be served, but to serve."  This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained.
Many people have decried that the USCCB has said it is alright to wash the feet of women.
And they have said that. Here: Because the gospel of the mandatum read on Holy Thursday also depicts Jesus as the "Teacher and Lord" who humbly serves his disciples by performing this extraordinary gesture which goes beyond the laws of hospitality,2 the element of humble service has accentuated the celebration of the foot washing rite in the United States over the last decade or more. In this regard, it has become customary in many places to invite both men and women to be participants in this rite in recognition of the service that should be given by all the faithful to the Church and to the world. Thus, in the United States, a variation in the rite developed in which not only charity is signified but also humble service. While this variation may differ from the rubric of the Sacramentary which mentions only men ("viri selecti"), it may nevertheless be said that the intention to emphasize service along with charity in the celebration of the rite is an understandable way of accentuating the evangelical command of the Lord, "who came to serve and not to be served," that all members of the Church must serve one another in love.
This is the ambiguous way of saying "...we know it's wrong, but we're going to do it anyway."
Let me remind all priests in the Scranton Diocese and abroad: The USCCB is NOT an American Vatican. Nothing the USCCB has written in regards to this customary washing of the feet carries a Recognitio from Rome, hence, it does not carry force of law. And since Rome HAS issued a statement, namely Paschale Solemnitatis which I quoted above, I certainly hope and pray that all priests will take the Vatican's word and prohibit women from the washing of the feet at the upcoming Maundy Thursday Masses.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Thou Shalt Not Wash The Feet Of Women!
I re-post this article every year, and I will continue to do so until every priest in this diocese is able to comprehend this simple fact.