Thursday, March 21, 2013
On Holy Thursday, Pope To Prison
Rocco Palmo Whispers in the Loggia March 21, 2013 In a sudden announcement this morning from the Holy See, Pope Francis has yet again turned Vatican protocol on its head – shredding the earlier plan of beginning the Easter Triduum in St Peter's Basilica, the new pontiff has instead opted to go to a juvenile prison in Rome to celebrate Holy Thursday's Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, at which he'll wash the feet of 12 inmates. The opening chapter of the church's most sacred moment of the year, while the rite normally takes place in at St John Lateran, this year's Evening Mass was previously slated to happen in the Vatican Basilica as the new pontiff has yet to take possession of the Lateran – the "Mother and Head" of all churches, which technically serves as the cathedral of the bishop of Rome. Over recent decades, the Popes have washed the feet of 12 retired priests of their diocese at the liturgy. As the facility Papa Bergoglio has chosen for the Mass comprises both male and female inmates, given his prior practice, a long-standing flashpoint for the church in the "developed" world – namely, the inclusion of women in the Mandatum rite – could well see its most authoritative verdict to date in Francis' actions next week.