“Love one another,” said Jesus on the night of the Last Supper, and as a sign of that love he washed the feet of his disciples. Pope Francis broke tradition and washed the feet of women last night. Given the great commandment of love, how could Jesus be displeased?
HuffPost Religion’s report follows here:
ROME — In his most significant break with tradition yet, Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of two young women at a juvenile detention center – a surprising departure from church rules that restrict the Holy Thursday ritual to men.
No pope has ever washed the feet of a woman before, and Francis’ gesture sparked a debate among some conservatives and liturgical purists, who lamented he had set a “questionable example.” Liberals welcomed the move as a sign of greater inclusiveness in the church.
Speaking to the young offenders, including Muslims and Orthodox Christians, Francis said that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion in a gesture of love and service.
“This is a symbol, it is a sign. Washing your feet means I am at your service,” Francis told the group, aged 14 to 21, at the Casal del Marmo detention facility in Rome.
“Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us,” the pope said. “This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty. As a priest and bishop, I must be at your service.”