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Noted Vatican Watcher Says New Pope’s Departures Come As No Surprise

(Pope Francis washes the feet of young prisoners -- male and female -- at the Casal Del Marmo Youth Detention Centre in Rome on March 28th. Credit: Servizio Fotografico L'Osservatore Romano via Getty Images)

(Pope Francis washes the feet of young prisoners — male and female — at the Casal Del Marmo Youth Detention Centre in Rome on March 28th. Credit: Servizio Fotografico L’Osservatore Romano via Getty Images)

Mark Abrams Mark Abrams
Mark Abrams is a versatile part of the KYW Newsradio family, serving...
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By Mark Abrams

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) –  Pope Francis’ inclusion of women in a Holy Week ceremony that was previously reserved for men has agitated church traditionalists who are asking, what’s next?

Francis conducted last week’s Holy Thursday mass and footwashing ceremony in a juvenile detention center where he washed the feet of young men and a few young women, imitating Jesus at the Last Supper where he washed the feet of his disciples.

Father Thomas Reese, an author on the papacy, says he’s appalled at the reaction in some church circles about the pope washing the feet of women, a practice previously reserved for men.

“People are reacting the same way the Pharisees did to Jesus when he broke a few rules. I think they need to examine their conscience and start reading the Gospel again,” Reese says.

Reese says the new pope, when a cardinal in Buenos Aires, performed similar acts and was inclusive of women.

“This is a pope who puts charity and the gospel of love above these petty rules,” Reese tells KYW Newsradio.

But Reese says don’t look for Pope Francis to stray from the core values of the Catholic Church — including the ban on women being ordained as priests.