Thursday, April 01, 2010

A new mandate

Powerful words before the Foot-Washing at the Maundy Thursday service, read by the priest presiding:

Fellow servants of our Lord Jesus Christ: On the night before his death, Jesus set an example for his disciples by washing their feet, an act of humble service. He taught that strength and growth in the life of the Kingdom of God come not by power, authority, or even miracle, but by such lowly service. We all need to remember his example, but none stand more in need of this reminder than those whom the Lord has called to the ordained ministry.
(Book of Occasional Services, 1993)

Vincenzo Civerchio. Christ washing the feet of the disciples. 1544

I imagine Cardinal Schönborn said something similar at the Bußgottesdienst he conducted Wednesday in the Stefansdom in Vienna for the victims of clergy sexual abuse and their abettors. What about his boss in Rome? (Under the circumstances the traditional papal washing of the feet of priests won't do the trick.) As Ross Douthat noted in his column in the Times on Monday:

This is Holy Week, when the first pope, Peter, broke faith with Christ and wept for shame. There is no better time for repentance.

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