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No women for foot-washing ritual: Syro-Malabar church

No women for foot-washing ritual: Syro-Malabar church

Kochi: The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church will stick to the traditional practice of performing foot-washing on Maundy Thursdy on men only with the Vatican exempting it from its decree allowing participation of women in the ritual.

Head of the Syro-Malabar Church Cardinal George Alencherry has issued a circular stating that the Church wished to keep the Eastern tradition and the ritual will be performed only on men.

The ritual is said to have been performed by Jesus as one of his last acts on Earth to his disciples before he was crucified to signify an act of humility.

Last year, Pope Francis had issued a decree changing the way that the Maundy Thursday foot-washing was performed in the Church and said it should no longer be limited to men.

The deceree did not go down well with the Syro-Malabar Catholic Churh, which comes under Vatican.

It sought clarification from the congregation for the Eastern churches in Vatican when the issue came up for a debate.

"It was clarified that the decree is meant for the Latin Church only Both the Decree and the letter of the Holy Father, which prompted it, mention specifically only 'Roman Missal'.

"Thus, this change does not concern the liturgical practices in the Eastern Churches," the circular said.

The Synod of Bishops in the Syro-Malabar Church has decided that the church will wash the feet of only 12 men following the age-old liturgical tradition as the Vatican has exempted Eastern churches, it said.

Last year, the Syro-Malabar Church did not follow the Papal decree that women should be included in the foot-washing ceremony.

However, a parish priest of Blessed Sacrament Church under Syro-Malabar Church in Thrikkakara, had violated the position taken by the eastern Church by including 12 women in the foot-washing ritual.

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