January 25, 2016
For Immediate Release
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Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) welcomes Pope Francis’ call to include women in foot washing ceremonies and hope it signifies a bolder approach to ending sexist exclusion
Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) welcomes Pope Francis’ formal decree confirming that women can and should be part of Holy Thursday foot washing ceremonies. We commend Pope Francis for moving our Church one step closer to the inclusiveness modeled by Jesus.
This may seem like a small move forward because women have already been included in this rite for many years in some churches. The fact that it is still prohibited by some parish priests around the world betrays the reality of the challenge women face at a local level, with many Church officials refusing to include women in the Last Supper commemoration.
Decrees such as this one from Pope Francis are important, because they send an official signal to the entire Catholic world that change, even when it is incremental, is happening. Jesus was taught the symbolic ritual of feet washing by a woman and we know that there were women present at his last Passover meal on Holy Thursday. If we are to be truly faithful to our tradition, women must be included in all our rituals and sacraments and we must continue to challenge those clerics who cling to their own interpretation of tradition, based on sexism alone. As Pope Francis warned earlier this week, those 'who say “it’s always been done that way,” and stop there have hearts closed to the surprises of the Holy Spirit. They are idolaters and rebels who will never arrive at the fullness of the truth'.
We eagerly anticipate the day when women, head, heart, hands and feet will be fully welcome in the sacramental and governing leadership of our Church.'