Major Archbishop Cardinal George Alenchery has said the Syro-Malabar Church will stick to the tradition of washing the feet of only men or boys at Maundy Thursday ceremonies.
He told the faithful in a circular that it was under the theological perspective of the Eastern Church that washing of the feet of only men had been included in the Maundy Thursday ceremonies. However, the various individual churches that constituted the Catholic Church had different traditions.
The circular comes in the wake of discussions on the inclusion of various segments of society in the washing of the feet ceremony on Maundy Thursday as initiated by Pope Francis.
The Pope had said that men and women, young and old, and the sick could be included in the feet-washing ceremony. He also approved appropriate changes in the Roman Missal (book of liturgy) for the purpose.
However, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Vatican body that oversees Eastern Catholic churches, had clarified that the Pope’s approval was for changes only in the Roman Missal and applied only to the Latin Catholic Church, said the circular.
The circular cited the Congregation as saying that the changes in the Roman Missal did not alter the liturgical practices of the Eastern Churches.
Washing of the feet during Maundy Thursday ceremonies recalls the New Testament account of Jesus washing the feet of 12 Apostles during the Last Supper.