Although Pope Francis shocked many by washing the feet of female Muslim prisoners on Holy Thursday, March 28, Catholics and non-Catholics alike have voiced support for this break in tradition.
Holy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, is a Christian holiday celebrating the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. The pope’s foot-washing on Holy Thursday is a tradition that alludes to Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
This year, the Pope chose to wash the feet of female Muslim prisoners, an action unheard of in the Church’s 2000-year history.
Although some conservative Catholics are upset over the new Pope’s break in tradition, the action has also gained him respect.
“It is heartwarming to know that the head of my religion knows to accept not only both genders but also different religions,” said Paula Barboza, a local student whose family is Catholic. “He was just doing… his job as a pope to serve the people.”
Some non-Catholics also favor the new Pope’s more liberal stance.
“I am not a Catholic, but I am still glad that the new pope is heading in the right direction,” stated Sora Stam, a senior at Woodbridge High School.
Others brought out a deeper side of the issue.
“It actually gets me irritated that this is even a controversy for some people,” said Helena Tubb, another senior at Woodbridge. “Pope Francis did a right job by showing his support for gender equality. People should respect him for stepping out of the norm while risking his reputation among his fellow Catholics.”
Pope Francis’s break in tradition to extend the ceremony to women is may very well be a step forward in gender equality for a church with more than 600 million female members. Some speculate that this seemingly small action of Pope Francis could foreshadow his plans to renovate the Catholic community.