The Vatican collapsed in a puff of smoke and funny hats this morning following Pope Francis's sacrilegious decision to wash and kiss the feet of two young women at a juvenile detention center in Rome on Holy Thursday. Well, not yet, but the gesture angered conservatives and liturgical purists who believe Francis set a "questionable example," since church rules restrict the ritual to men (obvs) and no pope has ever dared to wash or touch the slutty toes of a woman before. What's next? Rampant and secretive child molestation? Oh, wait.
Francis washed, dried, and kissed the feet of the young offenders: Muslims and Orthodox Christians, men and women, black and white, even those with tattoos — my stars, apocalypse is nigh — because that's what Jesus would've done.
"This is a symbol, it is a sign. Washing your feet means I am at your service," Francis told the group, according to the AP. "Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty. As a priest and bishop, I must be at your service."
Popes typically celebrate Holy Thursday by choosing 12 priests to represent the 12 apostles whose feet Christ washed during the Last Supper before his crucifixion. But when Francis was archbishop of Buenos Aires, he regularly carried out the ritual in jails, hospitals or hospices — once he even washed the feet of a woman holding a baby. That was all well and good when he was a lowly archbishop, but now he's expected to pretend that women, along with other marginalized groups, don't exist. He broke the Pope Rules!
Cue outrage and an insane amount of time dedicated to debating the fact that he touched ladyfeet.
"By disregarding his own law in this matter, Francis violates, of course, no divine directive," wrote Canon lawyer Edward Peters, who is an adviser to the Holy See's top court. "What he does do, I fear, is set a questionable example."
Indeed, many suspect that the foot-washing will lead to allowing women to be ordained as priests. "This is about the ordination of women, not about their feet," wrote the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a traditionalist blogger. Liberals "only care about the washing of the feet of women, because ultimately they want women to do the washing." And thus the evil plot is uncovered!
The funny/sad/predictable part is that Francis doesn't actually think women should be priests. In his 2011 book, "On Heaven and Earth," then-Cardinal Bergoglio said there were solid theological reasons why the priesthood was reserved to men: "Because Jesus was a man." ("Because Jesus" is a fab way to end any debate.)
The AP notes that this was the pope's "most significant break with tradition yet," and he's barely begun his reign; should we expect more groundbreaking reforms to come? Maybe he'll smile at a gay person? We're not holding our breath. (Related: Fuck the Pope.)