Cleansing the sole

Pope declares Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual will no longer exclude women

(ALESSANDRO BIANCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Overturning previous Catholic tradition, Pope Francis has declared that women should be included in foot-washing ceremonies on Holy Thursday during Easter week. Previously the Roman Missal, the book that guides Catholic liturgy throughout the world, said that only men should participate in the foot-washing ritual, which memorializes Jesus’ washing off the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper. But the Pope said that including women in the ritual more fully expressed the meaning of Jesus’ “limitless charity.” The Vatican announced on Thursday that the Missal has been changed to include women, with the change due to take effect on Holy Thursday, March 24.

Some dioceses in the US were already allowing women to participate in the rite, but many others were not. Pope Francis famously washed the feet of women during the Holy Thursday rite in 2013, offending conservatives who said the Pope was ignoring tradition and flouting church laws.

Read the full story at CNN.

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