As part of the observances of Maundy Thursday, the Holy Thursday before Easter, which dates back to the Last Supper, Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of 12 refugees at a migrant center in Castelnuovo di Porto, 16 miles north of Rome. At the end of the Mass, the Pope greeted each refugee, one by one, posed for selfies and accepted notes as he moved down the rows.
The Bishop of Rome sends a powerful message of peace, inclusion, humility and humanity. https://t.co/SICRE9agLu
— dayhawk (@dayhawk) March 27, 2016
As a gesture of welcome and brotherhood at a time of increased anti-Muslim sentiment following the Brussels terror attacks, Pope Francis knelt before a group of eight men — four Catholics from Nigeria, three Muslims from Mali, Syria and Pakistan, and a Hindu from India. He also knelt before four women — an Italian who works at the centre, and three Eritrean Coptic Christian migrants, before kissing and washing their feet.
The Holy Thursday rite re-enacts the foot-washing ritual Jesus performed on his apostles before being crucified, and is meant as a gesture of servitude. In his homily, Pope Francis likened Judas’ betrayal during the Mass of the Last Supper, to those behind the Brussels terror attacks. The betrayers, he said, “are manufacturers, arms dealers who want blood, not peace; they want war, not brotherhood.”
“All of us together: Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelicals … all brothers and children of the same God. We want to live together in peace… We are different, we are different, we have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace.”
The Vatican’s new norms say that anyone from the “People of God” could be chosen to participate in the ritual; so this year’s annual Easter week ritual — for the first time — included women, Hindu and Muslim refugees.
— Lisa Eresuma (@lisaeresuma) March 26, 2016
In January, Pope Francis issued a decree revising the rules for the traditional foot-washing ritual on Holy Thursday, saying the rite should no longer be limited to men and boys, but also include women and young girls. The pope said the change would help express the full meaning of Jesus’ gesture at the Last Supper, his “giving himself ‘to the end’ for the salvation of the world” and his endless charity.
The decree stated that pastors can choose “a small group of the faithful to represent the variety and the unity of each part of the people of God. Such small groups can be made up of men and women, and it is appropriate that they consist of people young and old, healthy and sick, clerics, consecrated men and women and laity.”
This picture is stunning. It goes beyond religion. What an amazing example of humanity, brotherhood, and love. https://t.co/R8bUZBwPuo
— Laurie Gibbons (@LaDolceEsq) March 25, 2016
During his traditional Easter speech in Rome, Pope Francis condemned terrorism as “a blind and brutal violence” that should be fought with “weapons of love”; he also raised the plight of refugees and condemned those who failed to help migrants.
“The Easter message of the risen Christ… invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees… fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice. All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance. May [the risen Jesus Christ] draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world.”
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) March 27, 2016
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