Pope Francis has changed church regulations to explicitly allow women and girls to participate in the Easter Week foot-washing ritual
The pontiff shocked many when he performed the rite on women and Muslims just weeks after he was elected.
Last Thursday, the Vatican published a decree stating the rite, traditionally performed on Maundy Thursday, can now be performed on anyone “chosen from among the people of God.”
It goes on to specify that the group can include “men and women, and ideally young and old, healthy and sick, clerical, consecrated and lay.”
Opinion was divided amongst those hailing the ordination of women in the church and traditionalists who questioned whether this was the first step in filtering out an all-male priesthood.
While the phrase ‘people of God’ generally refers to baptised Christians, the decree also specified that ‘both the chosen faithful and others’ can participate in the rite ‘consciously actively and fruitfully’.