I predict (clairvoyant that I am) that Pope Francis will do the following on Holy Thursday thus breaking a liturgical rubric, which by his actions and magisterium he will thus change, to make a greater point about his priesthood and what the ordained priest should model for other priests and for the laity!
Sometimes I find the Vortex shrill, but this video is very good. I think what he says can be applied not only to secularists but to Catholics who are falling into the secularist's mindset.
When Pope Paul VI died and Pope John Paul I was elected, the world fawned over the new pope who was dubbed "the smiling pope." I think Paul VI smiled too, but in his later years as he aged, he did seem depressed and dour and of course he was hated for Humanae Vitae and I suppose many people thought a smiling pope would throw condoms and birth control pills at the waiting laity as he was raised on his Sedia Gestatória like in a Mardi Gras parade.
Pope Benedict was an academic and a bureaucrat. Pope Francis is a pastor. He will approach the papacy as a pastor and model for the Church what a pastor should do. Pope Benedict was a professor and was excellent at showing forth the teaching Christ, which is a function of a pastor/bishop also. So in the broad sweep of history, we have various elements of the ministry of Christ reflected in the style and personality of the quite so human papacy. John Paul II was a philosopher and Globe trotter, an evangelist.
I think the "Church of the Media" really thinks that Pope Francis, the pope of the people, will not only throw condoms and birth control to his people, but also throw them same sex marriage. The Church of the Media are on a high now, but soon they will come down crashing and crashing on the new Holy Father.
And now let me step on some toes and what Pope Francis in my clairvoyant look to Holy Thursday will do at the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper.
But first let us talk about the earlier Mass of Holy Thursday. Yes there are two principle celebrations that should take place on Holy Thursday, but in most dioceses do not! The first celebration is in the morning when the priests of the diocese gather with their bishop for the Chrism Mass. This Mass has two purposes. The first is the renewal of promises that the priest made at his ordination following the homily as the bishop questions them and the laity pray for their bishop and priests. Holy Thursday is the day that the priesthood is instituted by Jesus Christ! The Chrism Mass acknowledges that!
Then the bishop consecrates the Chrism that will be used for Holy Baptism (applied to all the people of God in Baptism and Confirmation as we are all priestly people in this regard but obviously the ministerial priesthood has a different function than the general priesthood from where they come). Chrism is also used to anoint the hands of the priest (and the head of the bishop) who uses the "laying on of hands" in five of the seven sacraments: Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick and Holy Orders. It doesn't get any more "ministerial priesthood" than that! And of course the priest will use the oil of catechumens and the Oil of the sick in his priestly ministry as well. Then of course the bishop and priests concelebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Thus the purpose of the "ordained priestliness" of Holy Thursday is made abundantly clear in this Cathedral Liturgy. Unfortunately most dioceses don't do this Holy Thursday Liturgy on Holy Thursday so priests and laity don't associate it with the very purpose of Holy Thursday! Most think the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper is the only Holy Thursday liturgy, which it is not! What a shame!
Then the priests symbolically bring the various oils back to their parishes as he prepares to celebrate the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper with his parish. In many places the oils and Sacred Chrism are brought to the altar in the offertory procession and recognized. (We do it here at St. Joseph).
The source and summit of the priesthood of the laity and the ordained is the celebration of the Mass. But the Catholic priesthood, whose ministry is in continuity with the sacrificial priesthood of the Old Testament, is also in rupture with it and Jesus Christ himself on the night before His Passion, when he institutes the Catholic priesthood and Eucharist, shows forth both the continuity and rupture in the ministerial priesthood of the ordained.
The three synoptic Gospels make clear what the first priests (bishops) and all subsequent ordained bishops and priests, when Jesus institutes both the priesthood first and the Most Holy Eucharist as a sacrificial sign of the Passion of Good Friday and the Resurrection of Easter Sunday. This is high, temple priesthood and Jesus Christ is that Priest which the ordained share in.
But John's Gospel also shows us that this priesthood is not to be exclusively temple and separated from the laity as the Jewish priesthood is. John's Gospel does not have the "Last Supper" account, but it certainly presumes it and knows of it. Rather, since John's Gospel is the last to be placed in a written form, the Evangelist/editor chooses to focus on Jesus' washing the feet of the apostles.
What's going on here? Some would suggest He is ordaining them at this point to the "Order of Deacon." I don't know how kosher that would be in Catholic theology. More than likely, though, John's Gospel is showing forth the "rupture" part of the Christian ordained priesthood and Jesus models it! The Catholic priesthood is not concerned with the ritual purity of the Old Testament priesthood and Jesus does away with "ritual purity" as He does so throughout His ministry.
Jesus the High Priest is not afraid to get his hands and body "ritually impure" as the temple priests would. He models for the new priests their diaconate role of caring for the poor and getting "ritually impure" to do so. I would hesitate to call this an "ordination" as it is more a symbolic act by the High Priest Himself to show the apostles the profound nature of what they are to do as priests.
Now, in the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper,(which keep in mind is the second Mass of Holy Thursday, not the only one!) the primary Sacraments that are celebrated and are not optional are that of the Priest who has renewed his promises earlier in the day with his bishop (most places unfortunately have the Chrism Mass on the wrong day thus confusing its purpose!) and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Priesthood and Eucharist both instituted by Christ are dramatically made clear and shown forth.
Then there is the optional sacramental, the washing of the feet. It doesn't have to be celebrated, it is optional but a wonderful ritual only done once a year and symbolic, purely symbolic and symbolic of the role of the ordained priest. It should never be that the laity wash everyone's feet too, this would be wrong, just as deacons and laity are not to renew any of their promises at the Chrism Mass (baptismal or otherwise, since for the laity their renewal takes place at the Easter Vigil and by way of extension on Easter Sunday!) The washing of the feet is a sign of the "rupture" part of his priesthood in terms of the Jewish priesthood and that Catholic priests are to get ritually impure to follow Jesus in His priesthood!
So technically, even though the rubric doesn't say so, women could be chosen to have their foot washed, but the laity shouldn't be washing the feet in the Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper! It's not about ordaining those who have their feet washed, it is about the priest who washes feet! Thus the priesthood of the ordained is brilliantly shown forth in an optional sacramental!
The priest who washes feet in an optional sacramental is showing his congregation the nature of his priesthood. It is not just temple related but goes to the world in getting his hands dirty in ministry with the laity, what the temple priesthood would have seen as impure! Christ purifies!
So even though the rubrics for this optional sacramental say men should be chosen, remember it is a sacramental! Bishop Lessard asked me as MC of the Cathedral to only have six people, men or women. I asked why not twelve? He said that would make it appear that these are the 12 Apostles. They are not, this isn't a reenactment of Jesus ordaining anyone but calling His apostles to service and so Bishop Lessard washed the feet of men and women, boys and girls, as a sign of his priesthood including "ritually impure" acts.
Will Pope Francis do away with the rubric of men having their feet washed on Holy Thursday? My clairvoyance based upon Cardinal Bergoglio's past Holy Thursdays says yes, there will be boys and girls having their feet washed as a sign, not of their ministerial priesthood, for they are not ordained, but as a sign of the pope's ministerial priesthood and fidelity to what Jesus calls each bishop, priest and deacon to do, both the "ritually pure" and the "ritually impure" and to bring these togehter in the ordained priesthood!
Finally, no one is forced to have any men or any women or a mixed bag of men and women for the feet washing as parishes might dispense with it altogether. It is not central to the Holy Thursday's Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper. Some priests might want to focus on the priesthood connection with the washing of the feet, but keep in mind, no one is ordained when their feet are washed on Holy Thursday. That would be Biblical literalism and liturgical fundamentalism. The washing of the feet is not about that in the Liturgy! It is purely a sacramental and shows forth what the ordained priesthood is about in addition to the ritual aspect of the temple.