- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 22, 2005

BOSTON (AP) — Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley has decided to wash the feet of both women and men during this year’s Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual.

Archbishop O’Malley decision, which came after consulting with the Vatican, drew praise from advocates for a greater role for women in the Roman Catholic Church.

“I really applaud his flexibility and his willingness to interact with the Vatican over this and to reflect on the needs of the archdiocese,” said Lisa Sowle Cahill, a professor of theology at Boston College.

The foot-washing ritual imitates Jesus’ washing of the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper and has been part of Holy Thursday liturgies since the 13th century.

Archbishop O’Malley’s traditional practice of washing only men’s feet upset some Catholics last year, in part because Holy Thursday came just days after a homily in which Archbishop O’Malley cited feminism as a factor making it difficult for the church to reach baby boomers.

The archbishop said at the time that he did not wash the feet of women because “the liturgy is a teacher of our doctrine and should not be tampered with.”

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