Friday, April 06, 2012

Footwork Revisited

Suppose you are a pastor in the Archdiocese of Washington. You have just endured yet another episode of high drama from certain "enlightened" members of the parish, over your insistence that the liturgical norms of the Church be followed on Holy Thursday, as the Washing of Feet is reserved to males. You wish you could accommodate them, but the aforementioned norms are very clear on the subject. You are a man under authority, and it is your duty to be obedient to that authority, your own sensibilities notwithstanding.

Then, the next morning, you open the Friday edition of the Washington Times, and see this ...

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, washes the feet of Les Ralston during the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., on April 5, 2012, which was Holy Thursday. Ralston was one of 12 church members to have their feet washed, a religious rite that represents Jesus washing his disciples' feet, saying "A servant is no greater than his master." (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)

... as your archbishop is seen washing the feet of women. You must feel pretty foolish. To those parishioners who begged to disagree with your decision, you must look pretty foolish. Who do you have to thank for this?

When it comes to the challenges faced within the Church today, including the attacks from within, many of our bishops have become accustomed to passing the blame on to others, whether their own priests, or the laity. Consider the number of them who spent years hiding priests guilty of sins of impurity against children, and who now throw those priests to the wolves at the slightest accusation. Were these prelates to be found in any other line of work, how many of them would be in jail right now, for aiding and abetting felons, or obstructing justice, or both? Consider how your dear old Auntie, who has been teaching catechism for the last forty years, must now be subjected to fingerprinting and a background check, as though she were a common criminal, or applying for the CIA. Did she do anything to make her a potential liability, or was it someone (or something) else?

When he assumed the cathedra of Washington, Donald Weurl made a great deal of his primary mission being "to teach." What is he teaching us here?


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