The law was made to serve man, of course, but I can’t help but think of Pope John XXIII’s (alleged) words that, with the stroke of a pen, he could abolish priestly celibacy. Now is the time keep our eyes on Christ Himself who “loved us to the end.” So, while I truly appreciate the Christlikeness of Pope Francis’s actions this Maunday Thursday, I wonder if its theatrical spontaneity may not have backfired on him by generating more media buzz and conjecture than had he simply washed men’s feet in the prison. I mean, wasn’t moving the location to a prison enough of a juke for this winsome but wily Jesuit?
It’s a very big Church and there are many issues competing for the pope’s attention. Let me address just that issue I know something about, namely, ecclesiastical law, and try to talk sensibly about it. I’ll leave to finer minds the task of situating legal concerns in the wider ecclesial context.
For starters, perhaps Fr. Lombardi was misquoted or taken out of context when he apparently said, “the pope’s decision [to wash the feet of women on Holy Thursday] was ‘absolutely licit’ for a rite that is not a church sacrament.” That remark is confusing because it implies that liceity is a concept that applies only to sacraments; but of course, liceity is an assessment of any action’s…
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