Church Traditionalists Livid at Pope Foot-Wash

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 30 2013 3:45 PM

Church Traditionalists Livid at Pope for Washing Feet of Two Girls on Holy Thursday

164815601
Pope Francis washes the feet of a prisoner at the Casal Del Marmo Youth Detention Centre in Rome

Photo by Servizio Fotografico L'Osservatore Romano via Getty Images

In the short time since Pope Francis became leader of the Catholic Church, his every move has been scrutinized for signs of what his plans could be for his rule. And while his focus on austerity and the world’s poor has excited many who thought the Church was too out of touch with reality, traditionalist Catholics have been devastated. Francis’ decision to wash the feet of two girls, including a Muslim, during a traditional Holy Thursday ritual “has become something of the final straw,” writes the Associated Press. For traditionalists, it was a clear sign that Francis has no intention of continuing Benedict XVI's efforts to roll back reforms that were brought in after Vatican II.

The Thursday incident is seen as particularly serious because Francis flouted Church law when he washed the feet of the two girls. The traditional foot-washing ceremony reenacts the way Jesus washed the feet of his 12 apostles during the Last Supper, and the Church has long said women can’t participate because the apostles were all men. Some were quick to question whether the move could be seen as the first step in opening up the Church to women’s ordination, although the Vatican has cautioned against reading too much into every little move. Yet there is no getting around the fact that until Francis, no pope had ever washed the feet of a woman, or a Muslim for that matter, on Holy Thursday, notes the Wall Street Journal.

Advertisement

The pope washed the feet of two Muslim teenagers Thursday—a boy and a girl—in a move that observers quickly said could mark the beginning of an openness toward the Muslim world that could change how the Vatican is perceived, points out the AFP.

Just how much Francis plans to change in the Vatican should start becoming clearer after Easter Sunday, when he will begin naming top officials.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.