Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Saturday 23 October |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Severinus Boethius
Aleteia logo
home iconChurch
line break icon

Cardinal Sarah: Priests Don’t Have to Wash Women’s Feet on Holy Thursday

Cardinal Robert Sarah

Courtesy of EMP photos

Courtesy of EMP photos

Diane Montagna - published on 03/15/16

As to the substance, Fessio added: “The rite of washing of feet is not required, ever. As canon law now stands, duodecim viri (not duodecim homines) is specified.”

“Of course, as supreme legislator, the pope can (in theory) change the law any which way he desires,” Fr. Fessio acknowledged. “But the prototype is, of course, the Last Supper where Jesus washes the feet not of his disciples, not of people chosen randomly from the crowds but of the apostles, and tells them they should wash ‘one another’s’ feet. That is, ordained ministers should follow this example among themselves. Which is probably why, though the evidence for the rite in the early Church is very thin, we do know that in the 11th century the pope washed the feet of subdeacons. Certainly from the time of Trent (16th century) until 1955, the rite was not part of the Mass.

“One thing is certain,” Fr. Fessio said. “There is a ‘symbolic dissonance’ or disconnect. The humility and service of which Jesus gives an example is something every Christian owes everyone. Nevertheless, the historical origin of the example is Jesus’ washing of the feet of his 12 apostles. Trying to make the gesture more ‘inclusive’ than Jesus himself did simply muddles the historical image.”

Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.

  • 1
  • 2
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Marinella Bandini
Exclusive: Carlo Acutis as seen by his mother
2
POPE JOHN PAUL II
Cerith Gardiner
A collection of Pope John Paul II’s quotes on some of life’s most...
3
NUN,
Gelsomino Del Guercio
She’s a mom, grandmother, former postmaster — and a cloistered nu...
4
WEB2-Bishop_Michael.jpg
John Burger
Once considered for top post in Anglican Church, former bishop be...
5
peace
Philip Kosloski
How kindness begins in your heart
6
saint teresa of Avila
Zelda Caldwell
Now there’s a computer font based on St. Teresa of Avila’s handwr...
7
SAINT THERESE OF LISIEUX
Sarah Robsdottir
When St. Therese dressed up as Joan of Arc (and the sad story of ...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.