Pope Broke Rules, Washed Women's Feet

Francis first pope ever to do so

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 29, 2013 2:34 AM CDT | Updated Mar 29, 2013 6:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – The new pope has already done something none of his predecessors ever did: Yesterday, as he washed the feet of youths in a detention center, he included two young women—thereby violating liturgical rules, the AP reports. One of the women, the Telegraph notes, was a Muslim. "The pope's washing the feet of women is hugely significant because including women in this part of the Holy Thursday Mass has been frowned on—and even banned—in some dioceses," says a Jesuit priest.

"It shows the all-embracing love of Christ, who ministered to all he met: man or woman, slave or free, Jew or Gentile." A lawyer who advises the Vatican, however, was less impressed, saying the move "set a questionable example." Though the Vatican's spokesman acknowledged 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, he offered a practical point of view: "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."

Pope Francis washes the foot of an inmate at the juvenile detention center of Casal del Marmo, Rome, Thursday, March 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
Pope Francis washes the foot of an inmate at the juvenile detention center of Casal del Marmo, Rome, Thursday, March 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
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