Pope Francis broke with tradition this week, accepting two women among the 12 people whose feet he washed during an annual ritual.
Because the washing is meant to echo Christ’s reported washing of his male apostles’ feet, popes and other Catholic clergy have always stuck with men during the Easter ritual, which is meant to tell all people that the pope is at their service.
Gasp. Pope Francis decided two women were worthy of cleaning. Some see it as the road to ordaining female priests, although Francis previously wrote that he’s against it.
A canon lawyer interviewed by the Associated Press said the pope “set a questionable example.”
How far from reality must the church operate on a daily basis to make treating women as equals – even in a purely symbolic way – almost heretical?
Some have used the words “progressive” and “liberal” to describe Francis since he was named pope.
Progressive? The pope is elected as an all-powerful leader who demands complete autonomy. His full-time job is to go around telling people he knows how to get into heaven and you must follow every word he says to make it there.
Francis has managed to turn down the pomp and ceremony since being named Vatican CEO. He’s skipped fancy robes on occasion. Wow.
Tossing aside fancy dress outfits and some of the trappings of power says you don’t care about pomp or the trappings of power. It does not change the system within: an old boys club that risks failing because people have seen behind the curtain and realize it’s all a bunch of old guys hoping no one looks behind the curtain.
If anything, Francis’s clothing and feet-bathing decisions suggest he has good PR advice. If he wanted real change he’d appoint women to positions of influence, he’d decree that pedophile priests be removed from their positions at once and provided treatment. He’d sell some of the Vatican’s real estate and art and use the money to help people like the ones with the recently clean feet.
By maintaining the male-only Catholic hierarchy, Francis ensures people are driven away. Because it’s sexist, women understand they aren’t valued, and half the world’s population – no matter how good a priest they would make – is disqualified by their genitalia.
If you ran a company that way (even if people ignored the sexist policy and bought your product) you couldn’t stay in business in the long run simply because you’d leave out half the good ideas. Sexist, racist and other misogynistic policies have a way of deciding the future of any organization.
So we are encouraged to ignore all the values that matter – equality, for example – and like Francis and his simple ways. Sure enough, he’s easy to like, the same as any other old person you see on TV who smiles and waves.
But he still runs a system based on telling people how they should live their 70-odd years on this planet, and threatens eternal damnation if they don’t follow his words. It was a good shtick during the Middle Ages, but every day, more people look beyond the smiles and behind the curtain, and they don’t like what they see.
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