Which way will he go?

The Church of England - - ENGLAND ON SUNDAY -

Pope Fran­cis con­tin­ues to sur­prise and ex­cite Catholics. No one yet knows in which di­rec­tion he will steer the Church but he has given am­ple ev­i­dence that he is very much his own man. His de­ci­sion not to live in the apos­tolic apart­ments but to share meals with oth­ers liv­ing in the Vat­i­can must have thrown tra­di­tion­al­ists into a fit but he has stuck to his own way. The same con­fi­dence was shown by his de­ci­sion to wash the feet of two women on Maundy Thurs­day. The rubrics say that the bishop or priest should wash the feet of men. Con­ser­va­tive Catholic blogs are full of dis­may. Only a few fear this is the first step to women priests but most are con­vinced more li­tur­gi­cal hor­rors are in store. The body lan­guage of the Vat­i­can’s master of cer­e­monies on TV speaks vol­umes. Pa­pal speeches prais­ing the role of women in the church have not helped steady con­ser­va­tive nerves. Tra­di­tion­al­ists may be ner­vous but so far there is no ev­i­dence of sig­nif­i­cant change in Church pol­icy. We may get more clues to the fu­ture when the sev­eral new promised bi­ogra­phies of Fran­cis ap­pear this month. John Allen is al­ready hard at work in Buenos Aires and a prom­i­nent Ital­ian jour­nal­ist re­leased his book on 10 April.

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