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The Pope, The Law, And Me

Much discussed these last days, the Pope disregarded the rubrics surrounding the washing of feet.

Also much discussed, the Pope has rejected tradition in multiple other very visible ways.

Also, widely reported is the Pope's commentary that the Church should not be inwardly focused.

It is not my intent here to discuss whether the Pope is right or wrong, authorized or not, to do what he has done. Father Z and Ed Peters do an excellent job of summing this up and I recommend you read it. My concern now is elsewhere.

The Pope's disregard for established law and rubrics coupled with his statements has an effect and I am afraid it is not all good.

I fear that the Pope is inadvertently setting people in the Church against each other.

This is how the Pope's actions are now being framed in the popular mindset:

If you think that law and rubrics are there for a reason, the reason being the order and good of the Church and the faithful, and you are troubled about the violations then you are part of the problem. You are one of the inwardly focused people that the Pope is trying wrest the Church back from. If you think that law, rubrics, and tradition matter, you are the other--you are the problem. You are not humble and simple like the Pope. You are the past.

If, on the other hand, law, rubrics, and majesty in the worship of God have never been your thing, then life is good. The Pope, by example if not by word, is validating your worldview. You have never really cared about such things and have often violated them. The Pope has just shown that, as you always suspected, these things don't really matter, that things like law, rubrics, and majesty hinder evangelization and are simply the products of an inwardly focused Church. You are part of future Church.

But this unfortunately sets the good of the Church against itself, truly a house divided. This division makes its way down to the people. Look how quickly that happened forty years ago.

Is it alright, in the name of simplicity, for a Catholic not to go to Church on Sunday as long as he keeps the day holy in some way? Why not?

If you think that abstaining from meat on Fridays is silly and anachronistic and a sign of an inwardly focused Church, can you dispense with it if you abstain from something with more meaning to you? Why not?

Which laws, rubrics, and traditions still matter? Which are still binding?

But see, if you even ask the question, then you are part of the problem and part of the past.

I don't believe that this is the intent of the Holy Father, but to some degree it is already the result. If Pope Francis continues to show disregard for law, rubrics, and tradition, I fear this dreadful result.

There are many things the Pope can change, law and rubrics among them. If the Pope wishes to change them, he should do so properly. For one thing the Pope cannot change is human nature. Disregard for the law breeds only more disregard for the law.

[Note. I love the Pope and want him to succeed. I think renewed focus on the poor is wonderful and I support it wholeheartedly. But I do not accept, as some would have you believe, that law, rubrics, and tradition must be thrown overboard to achieve this renewed focus on the poor. I don't think the Pope supports this either, but I fear some of his actions give encouragement to those who do.]

*subhead*The wrong way.*subhead*

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waywardson said...

Pope Francis's gesture has been appreciated around the world. Here are a few letters from youths incarcerated in Los Angeles.


As for the concern over the rubrics, I think I remember that being an issue before...


Patrick Archbold said...

Thank for proving my point.

Mary De Voe said...

Pope Francis washed the feet of juveniles in detention, in prison. This is not the traditional washing of the feet as ritual of Holy Thursday before Christ ordained the Apostles. ...and Pope Francis may have skipped the traditional church washing of the feet to call attention to those in prison. His choice.

Mary De Voe said...

On Maundy Thursday, (sp), Queen Elizabeth goes into the ghettos and gives money to the indigent and poverty stricken as a sign of community. Walls do not a prison make.
I will read Peters and Father Z.

Anonymous said...

I am thrilled that Pope Francis washed the feet of women, no problem there, beautiful in fact.

But huge problem that within hours, from the Altar Thurs evening, a Priest is literally, in a disgusted tone, bashing Benedict for "only washing 12 Priests feet". So as the tectonic plates on continents are shifting, and fault lines deepen and their length is extended, as they say in L.A., it's just a matter of time before "the big one" hits. What that will mean for the physical Church no one knows.

All I know is I was shocked at the Priest's deliberate attempt to denigrate Benedict, a truly humble man that has given his entire being to the Church, and thus us.

mrflibbleisvryx said...

Ok, so I always preface my comments with the caveat that I'm a new Catholic. I will have been confirmed two years on May 1. That being said, while I am much more sympathetic to the pro- traditionalists, I don't have a foothold in either camp of the liturgical wars. I know that the joyful reaction of the liberals is upsetting (and it bother me, too). But honestly, they were going to ignore the rubrics anyway. They don't care that Pope Francis is doing his own thing. They only care about his actions in as far as they can use them to further their own hobby horses. If he had done the same old thing they would twist that to their cause as well ("stuffy old Medieval church hates wymminses, and that's why we just have to do it our way," etc and so on).

What I do think, looking at this as a very recent outsider, is that the traddies who are generally more faithful to the letter of what the Church teaches in my observations, maybe need to unclench just a bit so they can be simultaneously faithful to the spirit of those teachings.

Just from reading the trad blogs since the pope's election I will tell you that a lot of the traddies come across as caring more about the liturgy than about the rest of Catholicism. I don't think either Mssrs. Archbold give that impression and neither does Father Z, for which I am greatly thankful. But when I see comments about the Holy Father's "sins against the liturgy" (which I saw in a comment on this blog about a week ago) or how we are going to be forced into the catacombs because the pope didn't wear the Mozzetta (saw that one several times from commenters at Father Z's place) and all sorts of speculation about sedevacatism (in the comments at Rorate) it makes me think that there are folks out there that are so obsessed with the liturgy that they have completely lost sight of the point of what we're doing here to begin with. And I think Father Z is right in pointing out that there are a lot of trads who are missing the forest for the trees and that maybe Pope Francis is trying to remind us that there's a big forest out here.

I read a piece by The Anchoress a week or so ago that really stuck with me. She said something along the lines of Pope Emeritus Benedict was our brain for the last eight years, he taught us how to think about our faith. And maybe now Pope Francis is showing us how to live the faith. Like the graphic that's been going around Facebook with a pic of JPII that says hope, next to one of PE Benedict that said faith, next to one of Pope Francis that says charity.

I think that it will ultimately turn out that Pope Francis is showing us how to live out the things we learned from the past two pontiffs and that is a lesson I sorely need. I imagine a lot of other for do as well.

Anonymous said...

I was just reading a book about St. Margaret Clitherow this morning. One of the events in the book had to do with some imprisoned priests during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.. Some of them were Jesuits who wanted to celebrate Christmas in a very austere manner. The others were priests ordained under Mary's reign who wanted to celebrate Christmas in their more traditional fashion. There was great discord and a feeling that the Jesuits were simply parading their piety and sacrifice. The Jesuits felt the other priests weren't being sacrificial enough.These men were all under the threat of martyrdom, their country was suffering from a tremendous anti-Catholic persecution, yet they could still bicker about the way their spirituality was being expressed. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Karen Hall said...

Having seen and lived through the"fruits" of Vatican II, I am not a fan of "Oh, let's change stuff so the world will like us better." I completely agree with your point and this pope, so far, is doing what I feared he would do -- become myopic on the poor and forget that there are many more disenfranchised folks in the world -- like the faithful Catholics who have had to watch the Church do nothing while Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden and Kathleen Sebelius make the world safe for any and all abortions. Like Jesus said, the poor we will always have with us. Apparently the same is true for pro-abortion politicians in the communion line.

Lynda said...

Your piece succinctly highlights some of the implications and consequences of a Pope breaking the laws of the Church. It can never increase the faith though it can please those with erroneous ideas of the Faith. We need to pray and do penance more than ever before. The laws exist to preserve the Deposit of Faith.

MikeAOR said...

I think you're seeing divisions coming to the surface that are very real, but I don't think Pope Francis is to blame for causing those divisions. Pope Francis' real humility and his departure from the rubrics and majesty are undoubtedly making many lapsed Catholics and even outsiders pay attention to the Church like they haven't in years, if ever. Catholicism is, in effect, new to them.

But once those people pay attention, they are going to see the beauty of the Catholic faith, including the beliefs they may not be drawn to immediately, beliefs Pope Francis is not going to change because he is, like all Popes, Catholic.

I've seen the same divisions you have among people I know and in my case, the people who wrongly cite Francis as a rejection of Catholicism are either political liberals who have always wanted the Church to change into something horrible that it isn't and never was or people sympathetic to the Jesuits who always picked and chosen which aspects of Church teaching to accept and which to ignore or rail against. In all cases I've seen, those people have also expressed disappointment that Pope Francis is "conservative," which as we know is inaccurate. Popes aren't conservative. Popes aren't liberal. Popes are Catholic.

And those who expect to see an un-Catholic Pope are and will continue to be disappointed. The cause of the divisions we are seeing, which I think have been there for a long time, are the people who were always uncomfortable and/or hostile to Church teaching anyway. I don't think our Pope is causing responsible.

But what our Pope is causing is a reality where people are giving our faith a second look. And because our faith is beautiful and true, it is also powerful and I think and hope that Pope Francis will ultimately attract more and more faithful Catholics into the Church, even if those disinclined to join start kicking and screaming along the way.

Suzanne said...

Yes. Exactly -- all you say, Patrick, so well said. It's frustrating when those have been disobedient to Church rubrics are affirmed in their disobedience while those who have suffered in being faithful get rebuked. It hurts when our Father in the Faith does this.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Even if the Holy Father wants to convey points, be it humility, evangelization, or other good, can he not do this without disregard for the rubrics or tradition?

Celeste said...

Couldn't agree more with this post--you nailed it.

Katalina said...

I will be honest with you readers:I have been uneasy with this man since the day of his
election and all the wrong signs he has been putting out (whether he is aware of it or not). Not choosing to live in the Apostolic Palace is what did it for me because NO modern Pope including John XXIII or even John Paul I refused to live there. He was not part of the Council so this may be why he feels he can do whatever he wants. It's confusing the Faithful and the Message preached was "OUT WITH THE OLD"

Mack Hall, HSG said...

I hope I'm not drifting off topic in agreeing with Katalina and several others about the implied criticism of Pope Benedict, a holy man who has always lived a modest life. The Papal apartments are IN the palace, but they are a few simple rooms in what is otherwise an office building. From the (unnamed) popular press a naïve reader might get the idea that Papa Benedict was an irresponsible wastrel with other people's money, rather like an (unnamed) political leader.

Christine said...

Fr. Lombardi implied that if the foot-washing had taken place in a major public venue like St. Peter's, the traditional custom of wasing the feet of 12 priests would have remained. The fact that it took place in a small, semi-private venue was not meant to signify a significant change in law. That, at least, is some comfort.

I agree, Patrick, with your commentary. I've seen the remarks from well-meaning but frankly judgmental Catholics who mock those of us who show concern for obedience to the rubrics, as if we place the law above the spirit. If it weren't for the fact that we've already had 50 years of damaging liturgical innovation by creative pastors who felt themselves above the law, I wouldn't be so concerned. I don't think Pope Francis has any secret agenda to wreck the liturgy or tinker with doctrine--but his actions have no doubt given a shot in the arm to disobedient clerics who will now feel justified in their disobedience to the rubrics.

Fr. Philip Powell, OP said...

I'm a "Say the Black, Do the Red" celebrant of the Church's liturgies. The Holy Father's free-lancing of the rubrics doesn't bother me in the least. The rubrics are still there to be followed, and should be followed. Nothing has changed. I'm not the Pope (Deo gratias!), so I have no authority to change the rites. . .and neither does anyone else.

We need some ecclesial docility right now. Let the Holy Father teach us.

Fr. Philip Neri, OP

Anonymous said...

Perhaps as the liturgical abuses grow, and it seems they will. More and more people will be drawn to the TLM, where they do not have to tolerate such liturgical wars.

PattyinCT said...

Really Anon? I've met few who live the TLM who aren't downright belligerent when the mention of Vatican II comes up. Most of them are ignorant of the documents themselves, and are hypocrites compared to those who "go for the spirit of Vatican II" They're so busy fighting against that spirit they take no time to understand the majesty of Tradition that is found in these same teachings and documents.

That having been said. Is it a greater sign of humility for the Pope to wash the feet of women in service, or to follow the rubrics of the Mass during this (optional) Rite? Really, in retrospect, couldn't he have done both? Hmmm....

Virginia said...

Pro-RH, pro-abortion, liberation theology are all done in the name of charity and service for the poor, that is why charity must always be tempered with obedience; Or else self-righteousness will prevail and we can miss out on the Truth. Pope Francis was said to be a strong and assertive person, so he knows what he is doing. I can't second guess his reasons.
As for the anchoress comment that BXVI taught as how to think of our faith and Francis is teaching us how to live it--- that would be a heartbreaking comment for any teacher. But we have the deposit of faith, the cathechism, the canons - each one can still live the faith accordingly and faithfully in communion with each other and Christ.

Anonymous said...

I don't consider Francis to be 'the Pope', simply because it is increasingly clear to me that he does not consider himself to be such, and so it seems false to perpetuate the pretence through the duration of his tenure. I believe that he would agree with this viewpoint. He is however the Bishop of Rome, and the legitimate Successor of Peter. His Holiness Benedict XVI, on the other hand, is no longer the Pope, but he will always be a pope, and he is still with us in the Church militant, and is very close to us. So although I pray for Francis, when I think of the pope, I still think of Benedict, our former pope (and all the holy Popes down through the ages of the Church).

It is also evident to me that the events from February 11th have caused an intense disorientation in the Church, moreso than at any other point in my lifetime, (I was born some years after Vatican II). Even so, we can do no more than to take each day as it comes. If, through the permissive will of Our Lord, an arrogant maverick was ever licitly entrusted with the power of the keys, and chose to fulfil his petrine ministry with a great admixture of error, as merely a first among equals, then we would simply have to stop acting like spoilt children, ask Our Lady for the grace of acceptance, (and for fortitude, prudence etc), and grow up. Truth will not change, even if a Bishop of Rome, through words or deeds, tries to witness to falsehood. It is never sinful to defend Truth, regardless of whom one may have to oppose to do so. If such a situation ever did arise, how far the persecution of the mystical Body of Christ by the Institutional Church may be permitted to go, could not yet be known in any concrete way. In such a situation, the greatest target would of course be the Mass, especially the traditional Roman Mass.

Far-fetched? I can see the day looming ever closer when we must start acting and speaking in defence of the 'old religion'.


Rick said...

I've heard a Jesuit explain away the rubrics - even as a cause of neurosis. He may be smart but I say he is uncaring of the sensibilities of other people. He might have forgotten the lesson that St. Paul taught about the head covers. My two copper coins.

Rick said...

In Christianity, charity is job 1. The question is, is charity to some, uncharitable to others?
And if you can't please everyone, whom do you choose to offend?

It is always the elder son who has been loyal and responsible to the Merciful Father who gets the shaft because he is the one who is more mature, more likely to understand, more stable in his faith.

Rick said...

... and more holy for he has been with the Father all the time and never strayed away.

Father Maurer said...

Those who dissent shouldn't be attributed to the Pope; they are responsible for their own choices. Those who are on the fence may be drawn from dissension by his efforts. Those who are faithful need only to remain faithful.

Christ founded the Church. If the gates of hell won't prevail against it, this present conundrum won't either.

Foxfier said...

I really hope that the Pope has someone to warn him about the damage he's doing over here-- I don't begrudge the rest of the world some possible goods, since I don't really know where and how and such, but I can see the damage happening here so I hope he's being well informed.

trespinos said...

I agree with what you say, Patrick. It disturbs me that Pope Francis is rushing. Why rush? I hope that a number of old heads among his brother bishops are taking courage enough to advise him privately (we don't need their public statements) to slow down and take prudent counsel on whether it is wise to translate absolutely every part of his Argentine ministry to his new area of responsibility.

Pedro Erik said...

I am afraid. I am really afraid.

I am confused with Pope Francis, I can manage that his homolies are not that profound as Benedict XVI's, but he is changing so many things in so short time.

I outright agree with you, Patrick

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Disregard for the law breeds only more disregard for the law.

What makes Pope Francis so different from JPII, who disregarded centuries of teaching from Scripture and Tradition regarding capital punishment for murder because he wanted to replace them with his own revisionist, abolishionist approach?

What makes Pope Francis so different from BXVI, who refused to discipline pubicly the president of the German bishops' conference, who denied on German TV the fundamental doctrine that Christ received God's justified anger against sin on the cross?

What makes Pope Francis so much more different that Cdl. Wuerl, who disregards Canon 915 and makes excuses not to enforce it?

Pope Francis' actions on Holy Thursday pale by comparison. At the same time, they reflect the centuries-old tendency of the hierarchy to view itself as above God Himself, let alone above the beliefs and values they claim to uphold.

Catholics, if you want to know where your church is going, just look where it has been.

Plus ca change...

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall a recent Pope having something to say about inwardly-directed, self-referential communities. They got that way because they had abandoned authentic liturgical orientation, not only outwardly but also in spirit, having cast aside liturgical law.

Does Francis not see that the law itself is rooted in love? Does he not see that his stunts are far more inward and severed from the Mystical Body than frustrated trads who grieve at the scandal of a father who holds his duty in contempt?


Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Disregard for the law breeds only more disregard for the law.

What makes Pope Francis so different from JPII, who disregarded centuries of teaching from Scripture and Tradition regarding capital punishment for murder because he wanted to replace them with his own revisionist, abolishionist approach?

What makes Pope Francis so different from BXVI, who refused to discipline pubicly the president of the German bishops' conference, who denied on German TV the fundamental doctrine that Christ received God's justified anger against sin on the cross?

What makes Pope Francis so much more different that Cdl. Wuerl, who disregards Canon 915 and makes excuses not to enforce it?

Pope Francis' actions on Holy Thursday pale by comparison. At the same time, they reflect the centuries-old tendency of the hierarchy to view itself as above God Himself, let alone above the beliefs and values they claim to uphold.

Catholics, if you want to know where your church is going, just look where it has been.

Plus ca change...

Blackrep said...

What is the Vatican's official justification for the foot fight? "That the Holy Father, Francis, washed the feet of young men and women on his first Holy Thursday as Pope, should call our minds and hearts to the simple and spontaneous gesture of love, affection, forgiveness and mercy of the Bishop of Rome, more than to legalistic, liturgical or canonical discussions."

This could justify absolutely ANY infringement of any canon, rule, rubric or law. Even the natural law. He bends the law as he sees fit, according to his affections and sentiments. So can I! I could follow my affections to a divorce, to contraception, to abortion, to homosexuality, to Mother Earth reggae masses with paper mâché puppets performed for the homeless in shopping carts beneath underpasses. For as long as we both shall love.

The facts must be faced: this Papacy is already an internal disaster, a public relations nightmare, and a cause of confusion in every parish. And it's just begun. But we must always tell the truth about what we see, and call things by their proper names. Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a train.

Katalina said...

One thing I saw on Rome Reports yesterday is that at the Good Friday Ceremony they showed Pope Francis lying prostrate on the floor on a Pillow if as to say this is yet another "first" for him but its NOT. Pope Emeritus Benedict made this gesture first early in his Papacy and Francis decided to imitate him at least in this area. I also know the two talked on the phone on Thursday.I hope Benedict can straighten him out.

Jeffrey Stuart said...

There is no need to pit charity against following the rubrics of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We can have both. We should have both. We need to have both. They must work together.

Christ teaches us that there is a time to serve the poor and a time to serve him and the Mass is when we serve and worship him. Every time people throw out the term "pharisee" when confronted with the notion that we should follow the rubrics, I think about Christ actually saying to every "do as the Pharisees say, and not as they do." In other words, follow the law but don't be hypocritical about it.

Further, I also look to Mary Magdalene washing the feet of Christ, anointing them with perfume and thenJudas remarking that the perfumes could have been sold for the benefit of the poor. Christ rebuked him saying that "You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me." At the Mass, we have Jesus on the altar and it seems to me that that we should keep the Mass focused on Him while He is there and not change things for out own purposes. After Mass, we will continue to have poor and it is then that we should serve them as the Pope asks.

The foot washing could have been done outside of Mass and had and even greater and more powerful effect if staged correctly. As it stands now, the original message is being lost. Pity the sub-optimized execution of it all.

Rick said...

I wonder what will happen if Pope Francis liquidates the Vatican treasures - auctioning off paintings at Sotheby's and giving proceeds to buy food for the starving North Koreans. Just to push this envelope further.

Mary De Voe said...

The juveniles in prison are probably the closest persons Pope Francis could find to respect who have not respected themselves. Does anyone know if Pope Francis did not also wash the feet of twelve men as part of Holy Thursday Rite?

Anonymous said...

I am finding all of Pope Francis' actions confusing. I don't know what to think. Last week while visiting friends, we attended an Eastern Orthodox liturgy and loved it. Perhaps that is a better home for us. . . . and yes, I know the docrtrinal differences. . .

Anonymous said...

I am far more disquieted by the fact that Francis chose to offer Mass on that night, of all nights, when the Church celebrates the Institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Institution of the sacerdotal priesthood, outside of a Roman Basilica: that he offered the Mass of the Last Supper in the multi-cultural setting of a Young Offenders Centre. I think that all the scandal that he has formented over footwashing outside of the Household of Faith, and of the washing of womens' feet is obscuring a much deeper issue than that of a blatant disregard for the law.

Anonymous said...

Come on people.

Christ is Risen!
It is Easter! Christ is, and always will be, the Light of the world!
Let's shift our focus to him today.
Let's not talk about our fears today, of all days.
Let's not be suspicious of one another today, of all days.

Christ is Risen!
Indeed, He is Risen!

Anonymous said...


I travel often, and always attend the TLM, for the most part, I've found trads to be relatively uninterested in what goes on in the NO. I've seen moments, of belligerence toward Vatican II, but I wouldn't call it typical. Most often Vatican II will be quoted to support the TLM.

credocatholic said...

I think the healthiest thing for all of us is to just conceed that Pope Francis did indeed break liturgical law. It does damage to everyone's understanding of the papacy if we imagine exemptions that simply are not there. He can make bad decisions. He can break law. He can do all of these things and still maintain the authority of the pope and the protection of infallibility. It's okay to look upon some of his actions and consider that they may not be good ideas for the faithful. It is not making a judgement upon his soul, rather it is performing the very important task of being a cognizant member of the body of Christ. I love our Holy Father, and I continue to pray for him as he asked us to. As a faithful and non-dissenting Catholic, I am grieved by the disregard for binding liturgical law. God gives us laws through our Holy Mother Church in love, and it is our loving duty to honor Him by these as long as they are on the books. That is the most humble thing.

Bad Catholic said...

It seems to me that Jesus broke a number of religious rules when he healed on the sabbath and "Oh NO!" He talked to a Samaritan and not just a Samaritan but a woman! It seems to me that a lot of religious people got really upset with Our Lord for breaking the rules. Since taking office the Holy Father has shown the love and humility of Christ in action. Is his style and manner different from Pope Benedict? Yes it is but that does not make it wrong. Instead of talking about schism we should all be praying for the unity of the Church. Pope Francis is the choice of the Holy Spirit at this time in history. I think that everybody should relax and instead of complaining start praying for our new Holy Father.

Foxfier said...

...Did you even read the post?

Jeffrey Stuart said...


Pope Francis is not Jesus nor does he need to employ the same methodology. If the rubrics need changed, then the Pope could have easy done so before Holy Thursday and then explained why he was making the change. It would have been a real teaching moment.

Further, I don't believe you can ever say definitively that any Pope is the choice of the Holy Spirit. As Cardinal Ratzinger answered when asked if the Holy Spirit picks the Pope:

"I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the Pope. … I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined."

It appears as though the Pope simply didn't execute this as best as he could. So be it. It is said he is a humble man. If that is the case, he will learn from such things and apply that knowledge.

Lynda said...

Well said.

Lynda said...

Believe me, the damage is not confined to one place.

Lynda said...

The Holy See's press release is an insult to our intelligence, and an insult to the laws of the Church which serve the Faith.

Subvet said...

This is much ado about nothing. We're confronted with increasing religious intolerance throughout the world, our own nation stands ready to give full recognition to gay marriage (any bets on how we'll fare then?), theres a greater push for "mercy killings" aka euthanasia and growing acceptance for debating the merits of murdering babies after birth.

And we're worried because the Pontiff washed some girl's tootsies?

Give. Me. A. Break.

johnny b said...


Foxfier said...

We're confronted with increasing religious intolerance throughout the world, our own nation stands ready to give full recognition to gay marriage (any bets on how we'll fare then?), theres a greater push for "mercy killings" aka euthanasia and growing acceptance for debating the merits of murdering babies after birth.

Have you noticed the arguments used to promote those things?

It's "nice." Sure, killing your dad when he's old and sick is against the rules, but he's suffering! Yes, killing a small child is against the rules-- but it's so mean to punish someone with a baby....
Oppose gay marriage? But they're doing it for LOVE!

Patrick Archbold said...

Not about the tootsies. About whether the law and tradition still apply. I understand it may not be the most critical issue to some, but it is important.

Fr Bill Peckman said...

Really? This is how we celebrate the Resurrection of the Christ? That people equate all law and all tradition as equal is not church teaching! You have Tradition (with a capital T) which is faith and morals (that which is objectively true by its own nature)which does NOT change nor can any man dare to change. Then you have tradition (with a small case t)which are matters of disciplines...and do change all the time. the traditionalists, at times, can be a bit maddening... you would think Jesus spoke Latin at the Last Supper. The Pope, as chief liturgist of the Catholic Church can change 't'radition. I, frankly, am much more concerned about the wanton breaking of Tradition, which was going on before Francis or before Vatican II. That said, a Blessed Easter to all.

Jeffrey Stuart said...


You are missing the issue entirely. It's not about the change of traditions (with a small "t"), it's about how the change was done. Surely we could have easily just changed the rubrics and then followed the rubrics. There is not reason to pit charity against following the rubrics of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They should work together.

Happy Easter to you as well, though I would appreciate you not generalizing groups of people and/or insulting them.

Thomas A. Gill said...

Christ washed the feet of the priests he ordained at the last supper - the apostles.
He gave the new commandment "to love one another as I have loved you" to these priests.They are to love and serve all people.Pope Francis is one of Christ's priests by apostolic succession. His example from this Holy Thursday is for priests to love and serve all people. That's why he chose the people he did.

Isn't it that simple?

Have Blessed Easter!

Jeffrey Stuart said...


The rubrics call for males only. That's pretty simple. If changing it is that important, cannot we simply just change the rubrics instead of ignoring them.

Isn't it that simple?

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

I wonder what will happen if Pope Francis liquidates the Vatican treasures...

Rick, he wouldn't need to do that. The Vatican owns billions in securities, stocks and bonds, and has massive shares in various holding companies and businesses. He could liquidate those far more easily than paintings or statues, most of which would be too expensive for the vast majority of potential buyers.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that Holy Thursday has been reduced to a foot washing event. Holy Thursday is the night Jesus initiated both the Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist and that seems to have been forgotten in the confusion about who should have their feet washed. In the Gospel Jesus did not wash the feet of women. He ate and sat with sinners and fed the hungry on other days but on the Night of His Last Supper, He washed the feet of His Disciples only. I don't understand why we have to confuse that simple fact. The Priesthood is a Sacred Vocation. Priests are called to serve and to help souls to get to Heaven and they do this by administering the Sacraments of the Church. Jesus called on them to serve and by washing their feet He showed them simply what that means for Priests. To go out to the poor, the rich, the lonely, the unloved, the housebound, the addicts, the prisoners, the sick and all peoples and bring Christ to them. But it does not mean we diminish our respect for the Liturgy, the Holy Mass or the Sacraments where Christ is at the centre.

St. Jean Vianney was a great example, both living a life of extreme poverty, but holding on to all that is beautiful with the Liturgy and also serving souls through the Sacraments and through his teaching and witness of a holy life. We could do with more like him.

Subvet said...

Foxfier & Patrick Archbold, I understand the importance of rules, law & tradition. 22 yrs. in the sub force makes me a "play by the rules" type from Jump Street.

But with all the problems facing the Church now, the uproar over this incident seems unwarranted. It's as if the Barque of Peter is leaking like a sieve and we're concerned about the chipped paint.

Maybe my own reaction is out of proportion to how the problem is presented on this blog. In all fairness I admit to having been on numerous other sites where the prevailing sentiment is "the AntiChrist is here! Run for the holy water founts, women and children first!"

So maybe my disgust is aimed at the wrong people, if so please forgive my ridicule of your sentiments.

But I still consider this incident small potatoes.

Lynda said...

It is precisely the rejection of the principles that underlie the ecclesial laws and their upholding that has lead to the outright heresies and denial of the fundamental moral law which has caused the collapse in the Faith and its practice.

Sharon said...

Patrick, you are expressing the concerns that I have had watching our new Holy Father. But I am having a hard time reading many of the comments here and in other places. In worrying about these things, am I missing what the Holy Father is saying? Matt Drudge has the Holy Father's homily as the headliner on his website this morning, featuring this quote: "Change Hatred Into Love". This, quite frankly, is great PR for the Church. How many people will click the link, and learn something about the Church for the first time? How many of those people will hear the Holy Father's words, then come to these blogs and say, "The Pope is talking about love, and all actual Catholics can do is talk about feet! I thought the Pope had a compelling message, but apparently his own followers can't hear it. I guess I won't bother looking any further into that Church." We'd better stick with praying for him and reading his actual words, and allowing ourselves to be challenged by them. God will take care of the rest.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

You know what's missing in this entire argument? Any discussion about how Pope Francis' actions will affect the young people involved. Will they change? Will they know that God loves them and wants to reach out to them through His Son? Will Catholics in the area follow up with initiatives of their own? (I wouldn't expect Pope Francis to do so, given the tremendous problems he will face once Holy Week ends and he settles into his papacy.).

Ultimately, that's the question. Rubrics are quite irrelevant, by comparison.

SalAOR said...

A couple of points on this:

1) That Christ only washed the apostles feet. He also only imparted the Eucharist to the apostles, yet we all receive the Eucharist. In fact, his command to "wash other's feet" in the Gospel of John is far more specific than his command to "Do this in remembrance of me". In the case of the washing of the feet, He *is* commanding the disciples to go forth and do this to others. In the case of the Eucharist, He did not command the disciples to do this to others, but yet no one is arguing that sharing in the Eucharist should be the sole purview of the ordained.

2) We are getting too uptight over a rubric. This isn't a law that is on par with going to Mass on Sunday and upholding morality. It is a rubric that is hotly debated. And at the end of the day, the Pope is the supreme liturgist by virtue of His office and Papal liturgies have *many* times in the past been used to clarify or even set forth new rubrics going forward. So this is not without precedent. Many times, especially during the Papacy of Blessed John Paul, a liturgical practice would enter Papal liturgies and then make their way into the rubrics of the Church.

3) We are losing the larger point here. This strikes me as similar to what Christ said - The Sabaath was made for Man, not Man for the Sabaath. We can't get *so* caught up in legalese that we lose the point of our Faith - that Christ, the Son of God, was made man, and that he died for our sins and rose from the dead, that we may have life. He gave us the Church and the Sacraments to guide us through life, and we need to follow that Church, even when it makes us uncomfortable.

4) We have to remember that it was not the Cardinals in Sistene Chapel that chose Pope Francis - it was the Holy Spirit, through them. The Holy Spirit must have had a purpose and a reason for choosing Pope Francis at this moment in history. That's not to say that anything done by a previous pope was wrong or bad, or that what they did was more right than what Pope Francis is doing now. It's just that, at this point in the history of the Church, the Holy Spirit deemed that Pope Francis was the man to lead Christ's Church. It takes humility to trust that God will keep His promise - on this Rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

My prayer for Easter is that God will guide Pope Francis to accomplish His will, not my will, or anyone else's will. God's plan is not our plan, and our faith dictates that we acknowledge that, even if it makes us uncomfortable or it doesn't meet our preconceived notions of how things *should* be.

Lynda said...

Christ gave us His Church with its Magisterium as the way for us and all men to achieve salvation. Ignoring Church law cannot do good, only evil. There are principles central to the Faith and Truth at stake. Love never rejects the truth or lawful authority which in the Church gives us the true interpretation of God's Revelation through Tradition and Scripture. Catholics know that we may not dispense with the God-appointed Magisterium and determine what Tradition and Scripture dictate for ourselves. There are fundamental principles at stake, without which the Deposit of Faith cannot be safeguarded for the Faithful and the whole world.

Anonymous said...

Letters from Prison

Some results of Pope Francis' actions:



Anonymous said...

Awesome!! Well said, that passage as well stood out for me. Also when the three kings came to visit the baby Jesus, Mother Mary and Joseph never said to the kings, "oh give your gifts to charity not us." Im sure Mother Mary did in fact give away her gifts to charity, but im sure she did it quietly without anyone knowing, as a truly humble person.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Lynda, how exactly did Pope Francis betray fundamental principles, and where were you when Pope John Paul II betrayed centuries of teaching with his arbitrary, abolitionist teaching on capital punishment?

Foxfier said...

Joseph, I agree that JPII was wrong in his judgement about capital punishment not being needed any more, he didn't "betray centuries of teaching with arbitrary, abolitionist teachings" about it.

He (wrongly, in my view) believed and argued that the situation had advanced to the point where the wrong-doers could be sufficiently removed from society to not be a threat, and be punished that way, so killing them wasn't needed. Given that murderers regularly spend less than a decade in jail, and can kill while in, I disagree...but he didn't try to argue it was inherently wrong, just wrong in this situation. (B16 said it better in the famous letter about abortion, war, capital punishment and being able to receive communion.)

Anonymous said...

I see myself as something of a "traditionalist". This relates to my personality. I also believe that the Universal Church comes before my feelings. In this I mean to say that regardless as to how any of us feel about what any Pope does, the Church belongs to and is the Mystical Body of Christ. Our Lord was very clear when He said (and I paraphrase) This is My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against It.
I think we have to keep in mind that no matter what any of us sees in Pope Francis, this is Christ's Church and we have to have faith that there is some bigger plan than any one of us including the Pope. We of course are all part of the plan. But when you stand as one piece in the middle of a several billion piece puzzle it is very easy to get tunnel vision. After all God's timing is not ours!

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Foxfier, I suggest you read the following:


Here's a quote from JPII during his 1999 visit to St. Louis:

“The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation. A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.”

That was during his homily at an outdoor Mass.

So, Foxfier, was JPII speaking unofficially as a private citizen or as the offical head of the Catholic Church? In either case, why would he be contradicting his own catechism??

As far as Benedict goes, he is continuing the abolitionist policy despite his "paragraph" about capital punishment vis-a-vis abortion and euthanasia.

Which are Catholics supposed to believe, words or actions?

Foxfier said...

What part of "modern society has means of protecting itself without denying criminals the chance to reform" do you not understand?

They did not teach that it is an intrinsic evil, like abortion-- they taught that it has a time and place, and they did not think it was currently justified.

Reading the very quote you supply as meaning "killing criminals is always wrong" is like taking opposition to a specific war as trying to change binding teaching to hold that all war is wrong.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Foxfier, what part of "I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary” do you not understand???

Moreover, what part of Genesis 9: 5-6 do you not understand??

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Finally, when a pope declares the death penalty to be "cruel," isn't he saying that it's an intrinsic evil?

Frankly, I'm so sick and tired of the way Catholics parse words to justify their theological and ethical vanity. This is why I left the Catholic Church; it's fundamentally dishonest. It abandons divine revelation for its own agendas and lusts for power.

Foxfier said...

....You think killing somebody doesn't cause pain or suffering? That's what "cruel" means. Intrinsic evil, meanwhile, doesn't mean "a thing that is bad." Intrinsic evils are bad, but not all bad things are intrinsic evils.

Yes, shockingly, when talking about matters where there are fine shades of meaning, some people pay attention to what the words actually mean. That's not "vanity"-- and it's insisting that the sloppy interpretation that doesn't hold up when you pay attention to what they actually said that is fundamentally dishonest.

Foxfier said...

Since you have made it clear that you do not bother to pay attention to what people actually say, no matter how carefully they say it or how many times they hammer it home that they are not saying what you want them to be saying, I am done speaking to you. It is useless to try to talk to someone who wants to control both sides of a supposed conversation, and your obsession with denouncing prior popes for the words you put in their mouths is not even related to the topic.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Foxfier, go read Genesis 9:5-6 and tell me how the late pope's words compare.

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