Pope bringing together people
At a time when the world is fuming with anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments after the attacks on Paris and Brussels, Pope Francis has put peace in front of faith and identity. The Pope visited a refugee centre to wash and kiss the feet of Muslim, Orthodox, Hindu and Catholic refugees, declaring them children of the same God.
He celebrated the traditional ceremony of Easter Week foot-washing at a refugee shelter in Castelnuovo di Porto, outside Rome. The Holy Thursday rite is meant as a gesture of service, which re-enacts the foot-washing ritual Jesus performed on his apostles before being crucified. A banner reading “Welcome” in different languages greeted Francis as he walked down the aisle to celebrate the outdoor mass. Vatican rules allowed only men to participate in the ritual, and in the past, the Pope had traditionally performed this ritual on 12 Catholic Men. But Pope Francis had shocked many Catholics last January by changing the regulation to explicitly allow women and girls to participate.
The Vatican, on Thursday said that four women and eight men had been selected. The women include an Italian, working at the centre and three Eritrean Coptic Christian migrants. The men include Catholics from Nigeria, three Muslims from Mali, Syria and Pakistan; a Hindu from India.