Local Mercy Sister proves to be right on, on foot washing rite

In a recently published book on the Eucharist a New Zealand Mercy sister, Dr Kathleen Rushton, has provided an historical context for Pope Francis’ gesture of including women among those whose feet he washed on Holy Thursday.

In  a chapter entitled Rediscovering Forgotten Features: Scripture, Tradition and Whose Feet May Be Washed on Holy Thursday Night, Rushton conducts a detailed investigation into the feet washing rite.

Her concern is with the little known history of the insertion of the word viri (men) into the feet washing rite, an innovation that she says “departs from tradition which prior to our own time never excluded women formally.” She concludes that, “Both scripture and the history of the tradition of the foot washing critique the present rubric as ‘distorting’ and gendered.”

Rushton is one of three Mercy sisters to contribute to the book, Reinterpreting the Eucharist: Explorations in Feminist Theology and Ethics, which is a collection of writings on the Eucharist by female scholars.

It was launched in Melbourne on 28  February.


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News category: New Zealand.

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