Bishop Morlino issues statement on Holy Thursday washing of feet ritual Print E-mail
Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON — On Thursday, Jan. 21, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship announced that Pope Francis had issued the declaration that “from now on, the people chosen for the washing of the feet in the Liturgy of Holy Thursday may be selected from all the People of God, and not only men . . . ,” thus changing the rule and allowing women to be among those chosen to have their feet washed during the Holy Thursday ritual for the first time.

As with every change in the ritual or law of the Church, the practices and permissions in the Diocese of Madison will be in full accord with those of the Universal Church.

Upon learning of the announcement, Bishop Robert C. Morlino offered the following statement:

“With regard to today’s decree from Pope Francis, with regard to the washing of the feet ritual during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, I accept this change with loving obedience — as I always would.

“This change leaves our priests in fact with three options:

“1) in accordance with Pope Francis’s change, to include women in the washing of the feet (it should be noted that Pope Francis, in fact, speaks of a “wider inclusivity”);

“2) to follow the traditional practice of washing the feet of men, who in this dramatic ritual represent the Twelve Apostles, or

“3) to omit the ritual of the washing of the feet altogether.

“It is my hope that in their outstanding care for the people entrusted to them, the priests will engage serious prayer and reflection in coming to their choice of option.

“It is also my hope that our priests and people will avoid any pressure tactics so as to allow our priests to make good and prudential decisions.

“As I have always indicated, the central focus of the Holy Thursday Liturgy should always be upon the Lord, His priesthood, and the Eucharist. I hope, more and more, that this will be the case in each parish of the Diocese of Madison.”