CEBU City, Jan. 23, 2016— A Catholic archbishop has welcomed Pope Francis’ move to include women in foot-washing ceremonies on Holy Thursday, saying it is “very rich in symbolism.”
Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu said this change on the traditional ritual which has long been limited to men is connected to the pontiff’s push to make the Church more inclusive.
“Jesus washed the feet [of others] and gave us the example of service…Jesus wants to serve women, children, and all,” Palma said.
Pope Francis yesterday issued a decree overturning the rules for the foot-washing ceremony, stating that the ritual should be open to “all members of the people of God,” including women and children.
This practice, however, is not something new for the Argentinian pontiff, who become the first pontiff to include females.
In the past three years, he washed and kissed the feet of some people with disability, women, and even some non-Catholics in his Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual.
Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro also hailed the new decree which makes the Holy Thursday ritual “multi-sectoral, multi-generational, and multi-face.”
“In fact in Cagayan de Oro, we would like a washing of the feet for prisoners and even Muslims. I think it will be a very good sign of inclusive faith for others,” he said. (R. Lagarde / CBCPNews)