Many of the Novus Ordo churches will have the priest washing the feet of women on Holy Thursday. Since all of the apostles were men, and Jesus didn't wash the feet of any women at the Last Supper, why would any woman even want to participate in this ritual?
Let me guess. It is all about a greater role for women in the Catholic Church. Either they are poorly instructed, they just don't care, or they want equality for women in all things Catholic. After all, they say, it shows service and humility, and women are capable of both. I've even heard the complaint that people who oppose the washing of women's feet must also oppose communion for women. Their logic? Well, because no women were present at the Last Supper, they conclude that we must think Jesus did not intend for women to receive His Body and His Blood.
I'm familiar with these arguments, and last year, I approached my priest with this document from Father McNamara, which answers the question quite nicely. The result was that only men got their feet washed on Holy Thursday. This year, we have a new priest, so I'm going to have to present the article all over again.
Q-2: I have learned today about the Washing of the Feet ceremony at Mass in my parish on Holy Thursday. To take the place of the Twelve Apostles, we are to have six gentlemen and six ladies. I would welcome your comments about this innovation. -- M.R., Melbourne, Australia
A-2: The rubrics for Holy Thursday clearly state that the priest washes the feet of men ("viri") in order to recall Christ's action toward his apostles. Any modification of this rite would require permission from the Holy See.
It is certainly true that in Christ there is neither male nor female and that all disciples are equal before the Lord. But this reality need not be expressed in every rite, especially one that is so tied up to the concrete historical circumstances of the Last Supper.
I wonder how many parishes have the permission of the Holy See to wash the feet of women?