Leonardo Boff, Theologian-Philosopher, Earthcharter Commission
Pope Francis' speeches are not framed either by the doctrines or dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. It is not that he does not appreciate them, but that he understands that they are theological works created during different historical times. Those doctrines and dogmas provoked religious wars, schisms, excommunications, the burning of theologians and women (such as Joan of Arc and the women considered witches) at the stake of the Holy Inquisition. That lasted for several centuries and the author of these lines had a bitter experience in the cubicle where the accused were interrogated in the forbidding building of the former Inquisition, located to the left of the Basilica of Saint Peter.
Pope Francis has engendered a revolution in the thinking of the Church, returning to the praxis of the historical Jesus. He is restoring what is now called "The Tradition of Jesus", that precedes the present Gospels, written 30-40 years after His execution on the cross. The Tradition of Jesus, or as it is also called in The Acts of the Apostles, “the path of Jesus”, is grounded more on values and ideals than on doctrine. The essentials are unconditional love, mercy, forgiveness, justice and preference for the poor and the outcast, and a total openness to God the Father. Jesus, to put it bluntly, did not intend to found a new religion. He wanted to teach us how to live. To live with fraternity, solidarity and caring for each other.
Vatican City, 21 January 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father has written a letter, dated 20 December 2014 and published today, to Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in which he decrees that from now on, the people chosen for the washing of the feet in the liturgy of Holy Thursday may be selected from all the People of God, and not only men and boys.
The Pope writes to the cardinal that he has for some time reflected on the "rite of the washing of the feet contained in the Liturgy of the Mass in Coena Domini, with the intention of improving the way in which it is performed so that it might express more fully the meaning of Jesus' gesture in the Cenacle, His giving of Himself unto the end for the salvation of the world, His limitless charity".
"After careful consideration", he continues, "I have decided to make a change to the Roman Missal. I therefore decree that the section according to which those persons chosen for the Washing of the feet must be men or boys, so that from now on the Pastors of the Church may choose the participants in the rite from among all the members of the People of God. I also recommend that an adequate explanation of the rite itself be provided to those who are chosen".
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has today published a decree on the aforementioned rite, dated 6 January 2016, the full text of which is published below:
"The reform of the Holy Week, by the decree Maxima Redemptionis nostrae mysteria of November 1955, provides the faculty, where counselled by pastoral motives, to perform the washing of the feet of twelve men during the Mass of the Lord's Supper, after the reading of the Gospel according to John, as if almost to represent Christ's humility and love for His disciples.
In the Roman liturgy this rite was handed down with the name of the Mandatum of the Lord on brotherly charity in accordance with Jesus' words, sung in the Antiphon during the celebration.
In performing this rite, bishops and priests are invited to conform intimately to Christ who 'came not to be served but to serve' and, driven by a love 'to the end', to give His life for the salvation of all humankind.
To manifest the full meaning of the rite to those who participate in it, the Holy Father Francis has seen fit to change the rule by in the Roman Missal (p.300, No. 11) according to which the chosen men are accompanied by the ministers, which must therefore be modified as follows: 'Those chosen from among the People of God are accompanied by the ministers' (and consequently in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum No. 301 and No. 299 b referring to the seats for the chosen men, so that pastors may choose a group of faithful representing the variety and unity of every part of the People of God. This group may consist of men and women, and ideally of the young and the old, healthy and sick, clerics, consecrated persons and laypeople.
This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disipline of the Sacraments, by means of the faculties granted by the Supreme Pontiff, introduces this innovation in the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, recalling pastors of their duty to instruct adequately both the chosen faithful and others, so that they may participate in the rite consciously, actively and fruitfully".
We thank Another Voice for these strategies to use especially when we are beset with negativity in a polarised ecclesial environment.
(1) Truly believe and act on the belief that the Spirit speaks to and through everyone in the church, and that the hierarchy must listen to more people than just themselves.
(2) Be anchored in contemporary life not in an antiquated vision and cultural understanding of the human person that is more medieval than modern.
(3) Continue to educate yourself and insist on continuing education for everyone in the church, starting with your local bishop. Everyone needs a better understanding of Sacred Scripture, of Christian tradition, and contemporary psychological and socio-cultural understandings of the human person in all its variety and richness.
(4) Practice the way of Jesus that calls us to mutual respect for everyone in the church. At the same time, dialogue, question, and challenge perceptions and beliefs that appear to be unfounded, antiquated, or simply wrong.
(5) Understand that the old RCC status quo is finished. The church is headed down a new road; and there will be bumps along the way.
(6) Realize that being critical is also the way to be constructve.
(7) Realize that speaking the critical word is not enough. We need to be prophetc change agents, or just keep quiet and let those who have learned nothing from history take control.
Simon Bryden-Brook and Valerie Stroud attended this conference on behalf of CCC. It was excellent. We met many old friends and made new ones. Men and women were there from all parts of the world and the speakers represented this truly global dimension.
Here is a taste. We understand that more videos will be made available showing the detail of the conference.
"Vision of Faithful People" is a group in The Netherlands committed to Love in Action.
Ed Schreurs tells us "Recently we have been we have been asking those of our bishops "with ears to hear" to take a married couple to the forthcoming Synod. These couples would have the experience of having a LGBTQ or divorced and remarried son or daughter. In August/September 2015 we sent out 28 letters."
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