Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Society of Robbers or the Church?

In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis washes the foot of an inmate at the juvenile detention center of Casal del Marmo, Rome, Thursday, March 28, 2013. Francis washed the feet of a dozen inmates at a juvenile detention center in a Holy Thursday ritual that he celebrated for years as archbishop and is continuing now that he is pope. Two of the 12 were young women, an unusual choice given that the rite re-enacts Jesus' washing of the feet of his male disciples. The Mass was held in the Casal del Marmo facility in Rome, where 46 young men and women currently are detained. Many of them are Gypsies or North African migrants, and the Vatican said the 12 selected for the rite weren't necessarily Catholic. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)

I do not believe it is a big deal for Pope to wash a girl's feet. He can do what he likes and change whatever Law he wishes, indeed it will be seen as a very popular move by the media and the majority of Catholics, who fail to understand this action as a sign of Christ washing his Apostles feet.

It is however a very big deal for the the Supreme Legislator of the Church to break the Church's law or to set those laws at nought, especially as Supreme Legislator he has the right to change the Law. It does not bode well for a "Reforming" Pope to do it.

I don't want to join the doom and gloom merchants but if the clergy of the Church, as well as the Pope, can choose  do without its Laws then either we have become perfect society or we indeed have society of robbers and internal cohesion of the Church is broken and where that happens it becomes a place where brotherly love turns into mere Relativism and we have returned to the age Borgias.

Then I will be free to marry, or to marry same sex couples, admit those living in adulterous unions or even admit non-Catholics, pagans and pet dogs to Holy Communion, refuse to hear Confessions. I could even if so felt inclined prostrate instead of genuflect after the Consecration, and if I was a bishop ordain women to the diaconate or even the presbyterate or episcopacy, if were a lay person, an abortionist for example, why shouldn't I go to Holy Commion?

Keeping the law is a mark of Communion. Without the Law anything is possible, no-one has protection or rights, the guards are unguarded and no-one can be trusted!

This little scene from A Man for All Seasons is perhaps apposite.


totustuusmaria said...

I only have three qualms about this decision, Father. First it is an innovation and one that replaces the more common practice of washing the feet of 12 priests. Second he still washed the feet of 12 people, despite two of them being women. What, then, is the significance of the number "12"? It is no longer commemorates the 12 apostles, for the apostles were priests. But third, and most importantly, it doesn't appear that the Pope modified or get himself an exception to the rubric that says "viri." Is not the Pope himself under the law, albeit as the Supreme Legislator who can change the law? This raises for me difficult questions about Papal authority. Can a Pope "do whatever he wants," even contra legem? But the "lex" was established by the Supreme Authority of the Church acting in a solemn fashion. It hardly seems probable that even the Supreme Authority can act against it without another solemn exercise of his supreme authority. If we weren't to say this, wouldn't we have to acknowledge that the Pope is "extra legem," and that universal laws and customs only apply to those beneath the office of the Papacy? This is a troubling conclusion for me which I would be reluctant to reach. That said, no one judges a Pope since he is the supreme interpreter of the law. If the Pope comes out tomorrow and, exercising his office, states that "viri" is not meant to exclude "mulieres," Roma locuta. Until that point, it seems this decision is questionable and it's reasonable to discuss the ramifications of it.

James said...

Right now I feel angry, betrayed and confused by the Pope's grossly imprudent act. It has been a roller coaster since his election. I am trying to love him and respect him but it is so hard. I feel especially torn and betrayed as I have gone against family and friends and severed ties with the SSPX. Now it seems to me they may be right. Pope Benedict was a wonderful balm. It's now back to "business as usual" - novelty after novelty, scandal after scandal. What next, O Lord?

pearl said...

Father, what's happening to our Church, with all the scandals and now the above spectacle, I am so confused lately.

Robert said...

Pope Francis.

"Do not care for the trappings and the fine fabrics of the classic liturgy"

How are we suppose to take that?!

Thinker said...

I don't think you believe this. I really don't. I too can be impulsive and am sometimes advised to think again. You should have slept on it before posting.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I believe the Law is there to kirb my rashness, uncontrolled, unregulated we do great damage.
I know that because otherwise I act irresponsibly and can damage those I love, that is why I choose to live under the authority of the Church.

gemoftheocean said...

Much ado about relatively nothing. I could always see this particular feet washing business EITHER way. Either you could use 12 MEN (not little boys, please) to essentially play a "role" of an apostle, OR it could be interpreted (this is a man made CUSTOM after all -- not something to do with an actual sacrament) as 12 people chosen to represent all of mankind -- and that would be more than just 50% of the people. So 2000 years later, a priest is the servant of ALL the people -- just as Christ wanted. [So the 12 could have men/women, old/young, rich/poor, black/white etc. No one would take them as representing apostles -- but as spiritual descendants of the masses, just as the priest performing the right today comes at the end of the unbroken chain of priests for the last almost 2000 years. My only sorrow over this is I did not personally witness the cow that must have undoubtedly passed through a certain person's nose when he found out. [Yeah, I'm talking about a certain Mexican who frequents your pages.] I suppose, in some lights, the Blessed Mother must have had dinner with the Finklesteins that night.

Angelo Cardinal Fratelli said...

My honest opinion is I don't really think the pope cares about all this. I have noticed priests and bishops from Latin America tend to do whatever they want when they want. Some restraint should be used but oh well...

Joe Potillor said...

If the Pope doesn't have to follow the law, why do we? I am with you. I've tried my hardest to give him the benefit of the doubt...I can't do it anymore...This Pontificate has become Lent on steroids...which while good for my own purification...makes life even more difficult than it already is. Kyrie eleison

William said...

"Keeping the law is a mark of Communion."

It is also, of course, a mark of humility.

Desiring to exempt oneself from the law is … something entirely different. (Why does the phrase "non serviam" keep entering my head?)

mark said...
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mark said...

Two thoughts:- Firstly, not all 'laws' are of equal importance. Secondly, I believe that the Pope is entitled to vary this law (it is a rubric) if he wishes to. Since there is no mention of 12 in the rubric, it may be any number; they are not intended necessarily to be representing Jesus' 12 disciples.
Prayers and charity are needed.

diff said...

I'm confused. The supreme legislator seems to have acted outside of the law rather than modified it. I feel especially for those priests who try to do the right thing by the book and are then told/chastised by their parishoners "but Fr.,Fr., the pope washed womens feet why didn't you?" What is a man to think?

Much as you outlined above our Pope emeritus(if we're still allowed to call him that) wrote in his letter to seminarians that "law is the condition of love" as "a society without law would be a society without rights". Either the law of the Church is important or its not. I love the Holy Father by virtue of him being Holy Father but I don't understand him.

Why must there be this (apparent )dichotomy between living Christ's humanity as pope Francis clearly does and worshiping His Divinity as best we can? Surely, to paraphrase our Pope emeritus Benedict we should dare to do as much as we can on both accounts

stmarymagdalenchoir said...

The instruction on liturgy in the US reads, "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"

Albertus said...

The present Bishop of Rome also washed and kissed the feet of two moslims, much worse, as far as i see it, than washing and kissing the feet of two girls, unless they two were moslim... The word ''viri'' (men) does not include ''mulieres'' (women), as the word ''vir'' denotes specifically a human being of the male sex. The Latin word ''homo'' (human being) includes women as well as men. The present Bishop of Rome simply does not care for Lituryg, Liturgical rubrics, Tradition, Papacy, or Canon Law. And he seems to believe himself above the Church, alas, a false belief of many a Roman Pontiff (and of many a Catholic) which began long ago, but which Pope Benedict admitted to be not the case : the Pope - he rightly claimed - is not the Lord over the Liturgy and of Tradition, but the servant of the Liturgy and of Tradition!

Albertus said...

The present Bishop of Rome also washed and kissed the feet of two moslims, much worse, as far as i see it, than washing and kissing the feet of two girls, unless they two were moslim... The word ''viri'' (men) does not include ''mulieres'' (women), as the word ''vir'' denotes specifically a human being of the male sex. The Latin word ''homo'' (human being) includes women as well as men. The present Bishop of Rome simply does not care for Lituryg, Liturgical rubrics, Tradition, Papacy, or Canon Law. And he seems to believe himself above the Church, alas, a false belief of many a Roman Pontiff (and of many a Catholic) which began long ago, but which Pope Benedict admitted to be not the case : the Pope - he rightly claimed - is not the Lord over the Liturgy and of Tradition, but the servant of the Liturgy and of Tradition!

Aaron Saunderson-Cross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Childermass said...

My frustration is, why so much leniency for lawbreaking *innovations* yet heavyhanded episcopal smackdowns for daring to go back to previously approved liturgical forms (like the 1955 Roman rite---or, sadly, in too many cases still, the now-legal 1962 rite, or even legitimate things like celebrating the Novus Ordo ad orientem or using altar rails)? It's perplexing and depressing.

The Saint Bede Studio said...

If we feel strongly that the Pope has made a mistake in doing this, we should write to him to tell him so, and WHY we find this inappropriate.

Complaining in a Comment Box has no effect whatever.

If he is the humble man we believe him to be, he will take note if people tell him that they are upset, even scandalised by what he did, and perhaps think better of it next time.

Remember that the Pope has much to learn about the governance of the Universal Church as opposed to the Church of Buenos Aires.

AsherLev said...

As noted in the Washington Post: 'bishops have successfully petitioned Rome over the years for an exemption to allow women to participate'. Are we really suggesting, then, that it is uncanonical for Pope Francis to wash women’s feet, while it was fine for his predecessors to permit other prelates to do precisely the same? We're called to be obedient, not to be prigs and people round these parts really should know better.

Deacon Augustine said...

Hardly very Christ-like or humble to disregard the law so lightly!

This smacks of the pathetic grand-standing of an old man who wishes to play to the media and grope for that ephemeral modernist obsession: relevance. It begs the question whether the rest of his behaviour is just an act as well.

If he continues in this vein, his ability to reform anything will be compromised because he is sowing the seeds of anarchy in the Church. In business leadership psychology there is a maxim that your followers will only duplicate 80% of what you do well, but will duplicate 120% of what you do badly. He will discover this to his cost.

On the face of it this may appear to many to be a trivial and insignificant thing, but the ramifications of it will spread like ripples across a pond. The Pope flouting his own law renders it worthless. I can already hear the whining starting at the beginning of Lent next year: "But, Father, if the Pope does it in Rome why can't we do it here....?"

Stephen said...

Why are you all so surprised? This is not new. The West has been innovating since the Popes introduced the novelty of the "filioque" into the Creed over 1000 years ago. Innovation, thy home is Rome, and the first protestant was the Pope.

kiwiinamerica said...

I'm kind of feeling a little I need a break from Papa Frank. He's been Pope for two weeks but it seems like two long years. "Pope pays his hotel bill"...."Pope calls to cancel newspaper"..."Pope stays in guest rooms"...."Pope wants to dialogue with Muslims" etc, etc.

Is there any chance he could spend a few days in his study catching up on some paper work to let us all catch our breath?

I'm thinking more and more about that bolt of lightning which hit St. Peter's the day Papa Bene resigned.

gemoftheocean said...

Albertus: I'm not too concerned about him kissing Muslim's feet per se -- Jesus Christ came for ALL mankind...and the pope is to be the prime example of the servant of ALL mankind...some of whom (unfortunately) are Muslims. The only thing about that to worry about was one of the Muslims was a woman, and some of those Muslims get all hysterically jihad ballistic about a male touching one of their women. (The other female was an Italian Catholic.)

There seems to be quite a bit of caterwauling here about "vir is only used regards men." Well, perhaps that's the way the people who did the GIRM meant it for this ritual-- HOWEVER, though the word almost always applies to men the hand wringers amongst you seem to be totally unaware that on some rare occasions "vir" in its forms can be applied to women. I cite the following two examples that I know of -- in the optional Mass to be used in Religious houses of the Visitation, the offertory prayer reads -
""Quia fecisti viriliter et confortatum est cor tuum, eo quod castitatem amavertis, et post virum tuum alterum nescieris: Ideo et manus Domini comfortavit te, it ideo eris benedicta in aeternum."

Which is translated:
"Thou hast done manfully and thy heart has been strengthened: because thou hast loved chastity and after thy husband hast not known any other: therefore also the hand of the Lord hath strengthened thee, and therefore thous shalt be blessed forever."

The scripture passage is from Judith 15:11.

There is also the following passage where "vir" would seem to apply to mankind. Somewhere in the lenten readings in the EF there is something about God not bending to the will of a man "vir." Thereby leaving open the possibility that God might bend to the will of a woman? Don't think that's what the passage means, so ergo it would apply to men AND women.Sorry I don't have this latter reference to hand, but I expect I can find it tomorrow sometime later today. It's early a.m. Friday, and I'm packing it in.

So THERE -- stop hand-wringing.

And for heaven's sake, Albertus, there's a difference between "tradition" with a capital T and a small t. The rubrics for feet washing on Holy Thursday comes under the small t heading. Get back to me if he says Mass using Doritos and grape soda to confect. This is nothing to get panties in a twist over.

Sadie Vacantist said...

I attended a TLM version and there no washing of feet at all.

Mattdiem said...

Father, haven't you always been accused of being 'more Catholic than the Pope'?! Ugh... This whole thing makes my head ache and my heart a little sad....


Sadie Vacantist said...

Just to clarify that Pius XII inserted it into the 1955 liturgy. It needs to be scrapped again I would suggest.

James said...

Holy Father - thanks to YOU - yes YOU, I am starting to think the SSPX was right after all and am seriously considering reverting to exclusive attendance at their chapel.

Gungarius said...

There seems to be some ecclesiastical rivet counting going on here

Jacobi said...

Fr Blake, We must all stand steady at this time.

Pope Francis I is a showman, but I suspect for a reason. The Church is in a mess, a complete shambles since Modernism flooded in after, in particular, the 1969 Pauline Mass. The figure of 1.2 billion Catholics is an illusion. The Church in the West continues to fade, and elsewhere is heavily infected with pentecostalism, paganism and in India, Hinduism. Pope Francis I, I’m sure knows this at least as well as we do.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. All reform means going back to origins and re-establishing basic Truths, including law. But he has to get the attention of “Catholics” first.
Its early days. Let’s remember that in the Protestant Reformation it took 9 Popes and Trent to consolidate the Counter-Reformation, and we have had, since Paul VI, only 3 - and no Council, which I suspect will be needed.

As with the last Reformation the liturgy will be an essential part of any revival. Traditionalists in the Church, have all the space needed thanks, to Benedict XVI. What you do, offering the Tridentine and re-sanctified Novus Ordo Mass is the way forward, backed by the Traditionalist orders. What we now need are more priests to learn the Tridentine Mass and above all congregations. So it is up to all of us to “evangelise” and persuade priests and laity to come back to the liturgy, in Continuity, of the Church, so that the eternal Truths of Christ’s Mystical Body on Earth can be properly expressed.

gemoftheocean said...

A number of people have grumbled a bit re: getting mighty sick and tired they are of press reports reporting how "humble" Pope Francis is. I share the sentiment - because by implication it seems to say "Well, look at the contrast to pope Benedict." Whether the press is doing that on purpose for spite (and I wouldn't put it past them, give how rotten and slavish to the left they are to impute anything nasty tot he church) I think it's important to remember that it isn't the POPE who is calling the press together and saying "hey, y'all, be sure to mention how humble I am." So it's really not fair to take this one out on the pope. Anyway, must pop over to Fr. Zs and make a rare visit. I predict 90+% of them will be in total meltdown and hysterics. I suspect Fr. Z will have to defend the pope on some level as undoubtedly a whole raft of the lot will be threatening defection to the SSPX.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Let's look on the positive side, this Pope is clearly a heterosexual. With respect to Deacon Augustine’s excellent statistical point, I would suggest that the Pope’s manliness is about as good as it is going to get. With regard to DA’s point about sharing good versus bad practice, B16 passed comments in respect of the mythology surrounding livestock in the crib scene in one of his books and I noticed that these figures were then moronically removed from our Cathedral crib last Christmas. I can’t even begin to explain (nor could be bothered to do) the sheer absurdity in all of this. As an aside however, Popes are not academics and should not be writing books in office nor giving academic lectures at universities. The outstanding speech of B16’s pastoral visit to the UK for example were his fine words to the old people in London. In fact, I would content that Benedict’s ‘too big to fail too’ speech at Westminster was flawed for no less a reason than Vatican II has become a ‘too big to fail Council’ (something B16 would never admit to) and the election of the present Pope is yet another example of the Council’s on going bailout in action.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Is there not a linguistic problem here? In languages which use gender much more extensively than in English it is paradoxical that it is somewhat difficult to know whether the masculine includes the feminine. (In England there is a law - The Interpretation Act 1978 - which provides just that). I wonder whether Canon Law has a similar provision. Yesterday I looked up the Marmo prison and found it difficult to find out whether there were girls as well as boys until I found a site which stated there were a minority of girls. Supposing he had just washed the feet of boys only - might that have seen as a bit odd in the circumstances?

Anyway it seems to me that this rubric is a fairly minor rule in the scale of things and the idea that only the feet of priests should be washed is surely a novel interpretation.

I think we must remember that the Pope comes from Buenos Aires. It is surrounded by "Villas". I visited and got to know a few inhabitants in one of them Villa 31. I think there are about 60 villas each containing perhaps 20,000 people. They are without the law and governed by gangs into drugs, prostitution, guns etc.

It is impossible to ignore these masses of people and pretend they are not there as many people try to. Personally I found it the stuff of nightmares. It is coming from that context that one has to see and hear the Pope.

Catholic Coffee said...

I have just seen footage of Pope Francis washing the feet of the young offenders (BBC News). Just watching him I was filled with joy. He has been in office for a short time only but from what we have seen I think Pope Francis is a true gift to the Church from Our Lord.

What he said about the liturgy was: "From the beauty of all these liturgical things, which is not so much about trappings and fine fabrics than about the glory of our God resplendent in his people, alive and strengthened, we turn now to a consideration of activity, action.". The full text of his homily can be read on the Vatican's website here.

Jacobi said...

"we should write to him to tell him so and why we find this inappropriate", St B S.

Absolutely. We have to “evangelise”. I have written to + Meninni, cc, + Gaenswein, Benedict XVI’S secretary, and received a very considered and courteous reply, from +Meninni.

But for Heaven’s sake be concise,courteous and logical, in your letter, as I'm sure you will be!

Independent said...

"There was no King in Israel and every man did that which was right in his own eyes"

Long-Skirts said...

stmarymagdalenchoir said:

"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..."

Holy Thursday is the day Christ instituted the Priesthood and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!!!


In the fifth
Two thousand six
Melts the wax
Of candle sticks.

May moon full
Begins to wane
Shadows race
Across the plain

Reaching gulfs
The ocean tides
Break on beach
Where pride presides.

Cassocked in
The thickest fog
Plodding cross
The marshy bog.

Maddening moons
Through the fire ---
Near the depths
He wends on higher.

Many years
Breviary tattered
Deep in mists
His strength unshattered.

'Gainst black storms
Wet linen heavy
Soul after soul...
Gives his life for each bevy.

And when he is called
Because souls really mattered
He will enter Reward...
With his breviary battered!

(Merci Marcel)

gemoftheocean said...

Jacobi: so if this in the past has been granted dispensation by the powers that be, you are essentially saying the pope can not dispense himself whereas the dispensation may be granted others? How is that logical?

You may not prefer what the pope did. But it was not out of line.

I think under the circumstances it was entirely logical in this instance to do this. Particularly as the prison was for MINORS. Unless you are going to argue that all the apostles were minors, and that minors would be "cast" essentially apostles.

No, in this case the "cast" was the actual, rather than symbolic people Jesus intended His designated ministers to minister to. The pope is saying: If I in my exalted position humble myself to the servants task of ministering to you - then you (and everyone by extension) should take it upon yourself to practice the works of mercy instead of "Let George do it."

One has to ask himself what was the ultimate point of the exchange between Peter and Jesus? Jesus was letting them know that THEY would have to be servants to the people. They are not priests to find themselves exalted, but to be willing to give example to the least of their flocks. So 2000 years later, the pope, the stand in for the authority of God on earth demonstrates, in a very human, tangible, physical way the real corporal works of mercy. How many times do we hear in the gospel about the "one who does the will of my Father" shall enter the kingdom. How many times do we hear that words aren't enough - but Jesus expects us to follow through and DO.

Jacobi said...

Gem: Your first point, I don’t really know. I think I am essentially neutral, but don’t tell Fr Blake that!

My actual point is that the Church is in a complete and utter mess and we are only just beginning to realise how bad it is.
The Holy Father, Pope Francis 1 has a lot on his hands and it will be decades before he, and his successors, sort it out. History has not come to an end - which is quite comforting in a way.

Newry Liam said...

He is the Pope, you might have missed this God's vicar on earth. What is your problem, go to SSPX or the CofE, we are Catholics He is our Pope!!!!!!

BJC said...

Fr. Lombardi has now made some sort of statement about the feet washing in an Associated Press story:

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said he didn't want to wade into a canonical dispute over the matter. However, he noted that in a "grand solemn celebration" of the rite, only men are included because Christ washed the feet of his 12 apostles, all of whom were male.

"Here, the rite was for a small, unique community made up also of women," Lombardi wrote in an email. "Excluding the girls would have been inopportune in light of the simple aim of communicating a message of love to all, in a group that certainly didn't include experts on liturgical rules."

The full story is here on this link.

Tony Flavin said...

I know you won't publish this but this is one of the most amusing thread ever. I've copied and pasted it all

gemoftheocean said...

Jacobi said: " I think I am essentially neutral, but don’t tell Fr Blake that!"

Oh, Jacobi. Fr. Blake is just a harmless little ole fuzzball. He is a well known agent provocateur.

Singalong said...

I find the disquiet in your article and in so many comments very disturbing and would much rather we were all thinking along the lines of accepting the way Pope Francis is doing things, as Fr. Dwight Longenecker has written in his Blog: The Lurching Church

Fr Ray Blake said...

Singalong, As I say washing the feet of a young girl is not very important.

What is important is that Pope considers himself free to break the Church's Law, that is the story, it is that which is important.

He has broken an explicit law issued by the CDW, which restricts every other priest in the Church.

He (as Pope) has decided it applies me, because he has not changed the Law issued by his Curia, which as Pope he can do easily but it does not apply to him!

The Pope considers himself above or not constrained by the Law of the Church. Therefore if the Law does not constrain the Pope, the Supreme Legislator, the final judge, why should it constrain you or me?

That is my point!

epsilon said...

Dear Fr Blake
Your next post re Good Friday and the value God puts on each one of us is brilliant.
This one, though, and the general theme of the thread seems to me to contradict the above.
15 years ago the priest in this parish invited both men and women to volunteer for feet washing. I volunteered because I didn't know it was not supposed to be permitted... An awful lot has happened since then - so much that it seems to me anything where the news media show Catholics from the pope, downwards, doing anything humble can only be a 'good' for evangalisation.
If Pope Emeritus Benedict wants to be obedient to Pope Francis, who are we to proffer anything other than the same loyalty?!
The only thing I find troubling is the shallowness of faith among traditionalists in recent weeks!

Fr Ray Blake said...

If you have read this blog over the years, you might realise I am much an opponent of the Spirit of Vatican I as I am of the Spirit of Vatican II.

Vat I, or at least its Spirit, led to a distortion of the Papal Office placing it over and above the Church, outside its Law and Tradition. It is surely no rocket science to see the harm that is done by a Pope braking the law. It really does make all Law open to a personal interpretation, this we call Relativism.
Once the principle is allowed, where does it stop? It is very much the opposite of someone who I had hoped would return the Papacy to situation that could have been recognised by the Fathers of E&W in the first Milenium. By placing so much emphasis on his own person Pope Francis seems to returning us to a dangerous Ultramontanism, where the Pope is unconstrained by either Law or Tradition, that was, I think the great disaster the of late 19th and 20th cent Catholicism.

Everytime the Church is moved by a Popes swing to one side or the other, fresh cracks are made in its unity, people are lost.

I really am tempted to believe the modern Papacy, superstar Papacy, is as damaging as any other heresy, that touches the Church, it is Christ's fiefdom not the Pope's.

David Berkinshaw said...

Given that regularly bishops are given dispensations from Rome to wash the feet of women is it not time that this law was changed. In in the scheme of things, it is not terribly important, it is only an optional rite after all, but if the rite is to be seen as a representation of Christ's love and charity (Ubi caritas et amor deus ibi est) then why should women's feet be washed?

What concerns me more is that you are spending precious time during our most holy of weeks worrying about Pope Francis and his actions. Would it not be more fruitful to spend your time in prayer or tending to your parish?

Incidentally, l attended your beautiful Good Friday service yesterday and l was surprised to see that you changed a significant rubric, that of the Showing of the Holy Cross. When you raise the cross it should be covered with a violet veil. You had nothing on the cross and so each time you sang the Ecce Lignum you had nothing to reveal. We had already seen the entire cross.

An oversight on your part or a deliberate attempt to change the rubrics?

Fr Ray Blake said...

It wasn't a deliberate change!
Someone hadn't fastened the veil (which should be red incidently not violet), so when I revealed the first arm before raising it up the whole thing fell off, I tried twice and thought best to leave it off.

Even so, I think that there is option for having the Cross uncovered. If there is, it wasn't a rubric the MC had decided we/I should follow.

Thank you, the servers and choir did very well.

The Bones said...

The Crucifix was covered in red cloth but was not well enough covered in order to stay on (it kept falling off when it was picked up by the Sacred Minister) - therefore it was decided that the cloth would have to be entirely removed in order for the Procession to continue.

If a rubric was broken then it was not broken deliberately, but in order that the liturgy could be continued without irreverence towards the Blessed Crucifix taking place.

I hope this clears up your concern.

Deacon Augustine said...

Fr. re your post to epsilon on superstar Popes - absolutely 100% agree.

I thought this was something which was being rectified under Benedict's papacy with his emphasis on the Pope being the servant of Tradition rather than its master. However, even he seemed to break the law on intercommunion with impunity at times.

Despite one purpose of Pastor Aeternus being to impose strict limits on the prerogatives of the papacy, the faux cult of demigod popes has flourished - Vatican II only served to extend the demands for such powers to the rest of the bishops as well.

It seems that for many Catholics of a conservative stripe, the Pope is not only infallible in everything he says, but he is also impeccable in everything he does. This is no doubt a reaction to the anti-Romanism of the modernists, but it is an equally dangerous distortion of the Catholic Faith.

From what I have seen of Pope Francis up to now, he is a man of contradictions: some signs of great hope in his desires to take the Church "out of herself", but also signs of great danger in his careless cutting the ground from under her. We will only successfully go out to all the world if we keep with us everything whatsoever that Jesus has bequeathed to us.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Slightly off topic but if anyone wants to know Pope Francis's take on priestly vestments then they should read his sermon at the Chrism mass:

Fr Ray Blake said...

Deacon Augustine,
I agree especialy with the last paragraph. I think he can either take the Church forward or back into the ghastly muddle of the post-Concilliar period, where the Pope became even more important because everywhere else there was only confusion.

Not that it matters said...

The washing of the feet is a middle eastern tradition that goes beyond the primitive church (sandle wearers). The visitor to a house hold would get their feet washed aswell as their servents (male or female).
I guess this has been now expanded by his Holiness the Bishop of Rome to include all servents (man or women)of God. Jesus practiced this custom with his apostles. I am now making an exit plan (Plan B) to the Eastern Catholic Church if acient traditions keep going topsy turvy.

Greg Collins said...

Didn't our Blessed Lord have something to say about those who teach man-made laws as if they were the commandments of God?

Is the rubric regarding the washing of the feet, introduced into the Holy Mass only in the 1950's iirc, a matter that is essential to our salvation? If not, why the fuss? If so, how so?

"Thin end of the wedge" arguments are wonderful rhetoric but surely mature folk who are strong in the Faith can do better?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Happy Easter"
Christ is Risen!

Greg, It hasn't much to do with any end of a wedge.

It is simply the Pope doesn't obey the Law, consequentially: why should you or me?

The arguement has been used "but it is a little law", well anyone can dismiss any law he doesn't like or agree with as trivial, or the laws I don't like are little ones.

Yhe problem is theology is imposed on the Church by a whole series of laws, they were considered important but by this one act Pope Francis has placed (his) personal choice above the law, and the law below his personal inclinations.

John Hails said...

This reminds me of the gospel stories and Jesus' attitude to those whose life was dominated by the rules of the synagogue. Jesus did not wish to abolish the these rules but to understand that they were not to be a burden on people.

The liturgical rubrics are always a service to the church and shouldn't be a burden on priests and laity alike. And this is what Francis, I hope, is getting us to think about. Service, love and compassion are the themes running through Francis' sermons, but that shouldn't surprise us as they are the same themes of Jesus and the kingdom he proclaims. Too often in history the church proclaimed the church. The new pope is not going down that avenue again.

John Wotherspoon said...

See: Francis the Disturber


Celia said...

My parish priest washes the feet of altar servers, male and female and has done for years. He also holds penitential services in Lent and Advent at which people are led to believe that they are being absolved from their sins when they come up for a blessing. Not surprisingly I know of people who think that the penitential rite is the sacrament of reconciliation and confession is a different, 'harder' and more 'uncaring' sacrament.
I'm told the local (but thankfully soon to retire) bishop 'winks' at all this.
Pope Francis has plenty of catching up to do.

Greg Collins said...

All the laws are important but not all the laws are equally important. Not every nuance or detail of every law is equally important. Not all church laws are to do with our salvation and God, in his Mercy and Kindness has given us an intellect and a conscience to determine which is which. Attitudes to law are culturally specific; law may be looked at as the standard of behaviour to aspire to, the latin way, or a minimum standard of acceptable behaviour, the northern European way.

Many years ago a young curate, a good priest (and friend) then, and a good priest still, warned me to be wary of my own tendencies towards a certain scrupulosity. I've thanked God for his advice and wisdom in giving it many times in the last 25 years.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Greg, I am not quite sure about that, but it is really who breaks the law that matters more.

We have just had a Pope who has stressed Lex credendi..., that the Liturgy is a given, that Liturgical abuses are a serious matter, that individuals including the Pope are bound by the Law, including liturgical Law.

It is very different if the Supreme Legislator and the foremost Judge of the Church's tribunals breaks the Law than if a senile curate in some distant Italian village does.

There was a Law which was clear, a week ago, which is now unclear, but also the whole interpretation of the Law is now unclear.

Perhaps you might like to suggest some rules which are of no importance which I can break with impugnity?

Nicolas Bellord said...

Father: My experience of English civil law is that some laws remain on the statute book but are quietly ignored as being obsolete. For example did you know that it is illegal for a Catholic Church to have a steeple?

Many years ago I became a trustee of the Oxford & Cambridge Catholic Education Board which was entrusted with the appointment and support of the Catholic chaplains at those universities. The first thing I noticed in the Trust Deed was that they were only supposed to look after male undergraduates. Should I have immediately contacted the Chaplains to tell them to bar any girls from attending services?

I did not and applied to the Charity Commission to change the Trust Deed to include girls!

Fr Ray Blake said...

I would hope that the 1984 CCC was a little more useful than English Civil Law