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Despite Pope Direction, Syro-Malabar Church to Follow Tradition and Not Wash Women's Feet on Maundy Thursday

Despite directions from Pope Francis, the Syro-Malabar Church has decided to not wash the feet of women on Maundy Thursday and will stick to the tradition of washing the feet of 12 men or boys.

Neethu Reghukumar | CNN-News18

Updated:March 30, 2017, 9:05 AM IST
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Despite Pope Direction, Syro-Malabar Church to Follow Tradition and Not Wash Women's Feet on Maundy Thursday
File photo of Pope Francis. Last year he said that people from all walks of life, including women, youngsters, elderly and the sick, should be among the 12 people whose feet are washed on Maundy Thursday. (REUTERS/Max Rossi)
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Thiruvananthapuram: Despite directions from Pope Francis, the Syro-Malabar Church has decided to not wash the feet of women on Maundy Thursday and will stick to the tradition of washing the feet of 12 men or boys.

A circular issued by the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar church, Cardinal George Alencherry, has asked churches to continue with the tradition of washing the feet of men.

The circular said this was decided by the Synod of Bishops. This year Maundy Thursday will fall on April 13.

Last year, Pope Francis had issued directions changing the way the Maundy Thursday ritual was observed and said that it should not be limited to just men.

He said that people from all walks of life, including women, youngsters, elderly and the sick, should be among the 12 people whose feet are washed on the day.

The ritual is said to have been performed by Jesus as one of his last acts for his disciples before he was crucified.

Maundy Thursday is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the canonical gospels. It is the fifth day of Holy Week, and is preceded by Holy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday.

Since last year, there have been discussions and suggestions about it and the Church had also sought clarification from the congregation whether it is for the Eastern churches as well.

“It was clarified that the direction is meant for the Latin churches only. Thus, this change does not concern the liturgical practices in the Eastern churches,” the circular said.

Father Jimmy Poochakkatt, spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church, confirmed to CNN-News18 that such a circular has been issued.

“As far as Maundy Thursday is concerned, the main thrust of the rituals is that Jesus has washed the feet of the 12 men. That is why we want to follow that tradition. At other times, the faithful wash the feet of the sick, those in jail and the physically and mentally challenged. There both men and women are included. For Maundy Thursday, the Synod of Bishops want to continue this tradition of Eastern churches,” he said.

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| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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