Pope Francis has issued a decree changing the way that the Holy Thursday foot-washing rite is celebrated around the world.
The decree was published today by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and signed by prefect Cardinal Robert Sarah.
The decree says that the rite should no longer be limited to men.
The Vatican website has published a letter from Pope Francis to Cardinal Sarah confirming the changes. The letter, written in Italian, says that the Pope made the changes “so that it might express more fully the meaning of Jesus’s gesture in the Cenacle, His giving of Himself unto the end for the salvation of the world, His limitless charity”.
The Pope continues: “After careful consideration, 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.”