Pope Francis washes feet of refugees to mark Easter week

Pope Francis washes feet of refugees to mark Easter week

Pope Francis washes feet of refugees to mark Easter week

Written by Tharushan Fernando

25 Mar, 2016 | 4:18 pm

Pope Francis has visited a refugee center to wash and kiss the feet of Muslim, Orthodox, Hindu and Catholic refugees.

The gesture comes at a time where anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment has risen after the Brussels and Paris attacks. 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 service. Pope Francis has gone beyond tradition where Vatican rules depict that only men to participate in the ritual, and past popes and many priests traditionally performed it on 12 Catholic men, recalling Jesus’ 12 apostles and further cementing the doctrine of an all-male priesthood.But after years of violating the rules outright, Francis in January changed the regulations to explicitly allow women and girls to participate

892 asylum seekers living at the shelter attended, while others came to observe nearby and filmed the event on their smartphones.

According to the Vatican, four women and eight men had been selected. The women include an Italian who works at the centre and three Eritrean Coptic Christian migrants. The men include four Catholics from Nigeria, three Muslims from Mali, Syria and Pakistan, and a Hindu from India

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