~ Fr. Conrad Saldanha
“Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” John 13:12-14
The repetitive assertive mandate of the Lord and Teacher in a Canonical Scripture text is clear: Not everyone’s feet but one another, within the community of specific disciples called to Lord and Teach like their master! (Kindly read the emphasis of Jesus when there was no need for such an emphasis in keeping with the question; Lord & Teacher)
Hence the inclusion of women in the ceremony under any pretext is an aberration. (cfr. 1 Cor. 13: 33-34)
The Pope as head of the Church has every right to change the rubric of the Church. Thus the head of the Congregation for liturgy could be a sitting duck or a mere onlooker if the Pope seeks to over throw every genuine tradition handed down to us through the liturgy.
But in the washing of the feet ritual on Maundy Thursday no man born of a woman has the right to change what Christ has decreed to his holy apostles, in a Canonical Scripture text, not even a self-styled super Pope; even if made super by playing to the galleries under a full media glare.
It is not mere rubrics, which has been changed, as some tend to argue, but a Canonical scripture whose interpretation is now up for grabs, more so in our times when it needs to be upheld, especially by every man in the red skull cap and the white one, who are supposed to Lord and Teach in a humble spirit. The ones in the red are even called to martyrdom in upholding the faith of Christ, as proved by the many who received the mandate before them.
But the opposite is true with no signs of protests from any quarters in the highest hierarchy and more so, despite protests, a credulous resignation to what has been imposed upon them. Many have actually started encouraging their fellow Bishops and flocks to put these aberrations into practice.
The latest to do that is one of the 9 advisers to the Pope, Oswald Gracias as president of the CCBI (Conference of Catholic Bishops of India). In his letter dated 9th March, 2016 to all the Latin rite Cardinals, bishops and priests of India, with deceptive falsified assertions and confusing directions, when he says: “Although the Vatican Spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, said that this was not to be taken as a changing the discipline of the Church, it is now clear that the Holy Father was giving a message.”
What is more, the encouragement to deceptively impose the ceremony, in its new form,on the opposing laity, is largely evident in the language used in his letter.
The Pope, on the other hand, seems to be scoring a brownie point with the aid of the media, communicating an indiscriminate idea of service to the world. The secular world has lapped it all up.
Let’s understand the mind of Jesus concerning this noble service:
There are various kinds of service and not all service is the same; the service of a cook is one kind, while the service of a sweeper is another kind, the service of a boss is one kind and the service of a subordinate is another kind. Likewise, Jesus clearly and emphatically and in no uncertain terms, even repeating his role, communicates to us that the service he was providing to his disciples and thus to the world is that of a Lord and Teacher and not of a mere laundry servant as the Pope and his coterie would have us blindly and deceptively believe.
To reject the message of Jesus means to enjoy the privileges thereof and abstain from its serious responsibility, which could even involve persecution and martyrdom. It is not a ministry of cheap popularity and false equality but a call to outdo each other in embracing the cross while teaching the truth of the faith.
Any women seeking to participate in only the ceremony is proof of their desire to resist the cross, while those outside reject Christ, will they then accept the cross of Christ?
Therefore the washing of the feet is a symbolic ceremony which points to a far greater and deeper reality: Lord over one another and correct one another with the word of God in a spirit of humble service. Because, “You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you.” John 15:3.
What is dished out to us in the Pope’s decree is corruption of Canonical scripture and therefore every form of sound doctrine, with deception, making us believe that it is a mere liturgical rubric that is being changed.
And under such definitive vagueness to leave it free to each sacred minister’s conscience is a mockery of the truth which Jesus taught.
Thus, it is a service to rule and teach in all humility under his divine authority and direction (cfr. Jn. 13:16), which the many Bishops down the ages have been doing, many in all humility and zealously upholding the truth of the Catholic faith even at the cost of their lives. The martyrdom of the first Apostles of Jesus, in imitation with their master and the many prelates, priests, religious and deacons while upholding the faith is proof of a dedicated service as Lord and Teacher (Cfr. John 15: 13).
Today the world is all the more in need of Teachers who will uphold the truth of the saving message of the Gospel of Christ rather than compromisers who are willing to wash anyone’s feet for a media glare and thus sell the church. In fact those simple who seek to wash the feet of these men who occupy the seat of the Apostles receive a kick rather than a kind humble gratitude.
What many promote is not the gospel but themselves and the gospel made use to achieve such an end.
The call of this service is to risk martyrdom for the sake of the gospel of truth and the Apostles had proved it by their action of teaching the whole world and making who ever believes a part of Christ. (John 13:8; also cfr. Mk. 16:15; Mt. 28:19). In the bargain they forfeited their lives for the sake of the gospel of truth.
Is the Pope and his supporters calling these sick, the handicapped, the poor, the refuges, prisoners and women to such noble service of lording it over and teaching the truth of the gospel?
Will the Pope and his coterie give up their privileges and position and step down or will they continue to show off with the Church’s wealth and position to present themselves as generous philanthropists.
In fact the Pope and his coterie of Cardinals and Bishops, who have given accent to this falsehood, have acted false to the teaching of Christ found in Canonical Scripture and are imitating Judas; for Judas accepted the honour of his foot being washed and then went ahead and betrayed him for another privilege; wealth and fame.
For further reference and insight on this subject and to know where I gain the authority to reprimand in public read my private letter to the Pope, which never was replied to, on:
Thus any concession given to any individual priests, bishops or any rites is an anomaly; A clear concession to open dissent.
— Fr Conrad Saldanha
Archdiocese of Bombay, India