Holy Thursday foot-washing to reflect Christ’s love for all

Holy Thursday foot-washing to reflect Christ’s love for all

The Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual will no longer be limited to men, the Vatican has ruled, but can include “all members of the people of God”.

The announcement from Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, follows a December 2014 letter from Pope Francis to the congregation.

In his letter, the Pope had said such a change – recognising pastoral practice for himself and many priests around the world – would help express the full meaning of Jesus’ actions at the Last Supper.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said although traditionally 12 men, representing the 12 apostles, had been selected for the ritual, the rite’s meaning signified Jesus’ unconditional love. He explained that Pope Francis wanted the ritual to express “this dimension of the gesture of Christ’s love for all” rather than to simply replicate the biblical episode.

Support fallen heroes, Kenyan bishops say

Kenya’s bishops have declared their support for the country’s armed forces serving in Somalia as part of the African Union force backing the war-torn country’s government. “We stand in solidarity with our men and women in uniform who are carrying out their service in neighbouring Somalia and those who, for their selfless service to our country, have paid the ultimate sacrifice with their duty”, the bishops said in a statement following the January 15 massacre by the Shabaab militia of soldiers from the Kenyan military contingent of the African Union in Somalia (AMISOM).

The bishops urged Kenyans to show solidarity “with the families and friends of fallen heroes in these difficult moments”.