|Pope Francis prostrate before the altar in St Peter's Basilica during Good Friday services. I would hope the red satin pillow with gold trim and tassels would pass Traditionalist inspection.|
I have to admit to being somewhat bemused by the reaction of Traditionalists to Pope Francis washing the feet of two teenage girls on Thursday. I guess I didn't know it, but this somehow proves the sky really is falling. And then Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi explains in his own inimical way that the sky is only falling in one small part of Rome. The following excerpt is taken from an article on Vatican Insider.
......Speaking to Associated Press, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi explained that “in a "grand solemn celebration" of the rite, it would make sense to only involve men because during the Last Supper, Christ washed the feet of the 12 apostles, all of whom were male. But in the case of Casal del Marmo “the rite was for a small, unique community made up also of women. It was a specific situation in which 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 refined experts in liturgical rules."
That's quite the explanation. Especially in view of the fact the original foot washing was also done for a 'small, unique community made up also of women." I wonder why Fr Lombardi can see that leaving out women was 'inopportune in light of the simple aim of communicating a message of love' in this particular case of Pope Francis and Casal de Marmo, but think it perfectly fine to assume they were excluded in the first case conducted by Jesus Himself, and then extend that assumption to justify the exclusion of women 'in a grand solemn celebration' of the rite. Trouble with Jesuitical explanations is they only work if one accepts the underlying assumptions as holding truth. In any event, I doubt his Jesuitical explanation is going to sooth the troubled souls of traditional Catholics.
Over on his blog Bilgrimage, Bill Lyndsey has a couple of really fine posts on this brouha. I found a comment by Prickliest Pear to hold perhaps a key to the angst of the Trads. Here's the pertinent part of his comment:
So why do the traditionalists get it so wrong?
Their thinking begins and ends with the priesthood, not with the foot-washing ritual. Their vision of the cultic priesthood as an exclusive channel through which they receive the grace of God has to be kept in mind. It is what they believe the Church is most centrally about. If they read scripture in connection with this ritual, it is to find support for their particular understanding of the priesthood.
They believe that the stories of the Last Supper in the Synoptic Gospels show where Jesus instituted the Catholic priesthood--this is reading a LOT into the text that isn't there, but when you're desperate enough to see something, sometimes you'll see it.
But what about John? The Gospel of John lacks that all-important institution-of-the-priesthood scene. The scene with the foot-washing is in it's place, and so, their thinking goes, it must be connected to the priesthood, too. It doesn't say that anywhere in the text, but they're not interested in the original meaning of the ritual, they're interested in how they can interpret it to support for their understanding of the priesthood.
And of course this requires them to misinterpret it, because that wasn't what it was about at all. (As an aside, Trads don't seem to be too interested in the fact the Gospel of John doesn't support a priesthood at all.)
I like Prickliest Pear's comment because it crystallized a thought I had running in my head I just couldn't grab onto but knew I neither liked nor agreed with whatever this thought implied. And that thought is that so much of what Pope Benedict did symbolically seemed to say "The All Male Celibate Priesthood is Catholicism". Everything Catholic revolves around this version of the priesthood and if Catholics don't like it they can leave. If there aren't enough of these special cultic priests it's the fault of faithless Catholics who should just leave so that the purest believers in this Catholic priesthood can pray up more priests without all the static from the faithless. Catholicism is about the priesthood not Jesus, but just in case some people might think Catholicism really is about Jesus, we were told the priesthood really functioned 'in persona Christi'. Our cultic priests actually became a version of Jesus Christ when it was sacramentally necessary. Of course in order for that to happen without recourse to the actual holiness of any priest or the way he actually lived the Way, the words and rubrics of any ritual had to be done just right and without any creative deviation. Should such things occur, as Pope Francis has been engaging in, why all things Catholic are called into serious question---meaning Francis is profaning the all important rubrics and words and nullifying the clerical magic which is Catholicism.
No, the real 'magic' is not in the words or rubrics. It's in the Resurrection, an event that transcends the sorrows and trials of material reality, brings an efficacious Spiritual reality into matter, makes new all things, and justifies any faith we have in any version of Catholicism.
Happy Easter to all my readers. May this Easter bring joy to all of you because Easter truly is the Good News.