Photos: Pope Francis Kisses And Washes Feets Of Muslim, 4 Nigerian Catholics

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Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of
Muslim, Christian and Hindu refugees on Thursday
and declared them all children of the same God, as
he emphasised solidarity with other faiths at a time
of increased anti-Muslim sentiments following the
attacks on Brussels which killed over 30.

Pope Francis denounced the carnage as a “gesture
of war” carried out by bloodthirsty people
beholden to the weapons industry during an
Easter Week Mass with asylum-seekers at a shelter
in Castelnuovo di Porto, outside of Rome.

Photos: Pope Francis Kisses And Washes Feets Of Muslim, 4 Nigerian Catholics

The Holy Thursday rite re-enacts the foot-washing
ritual Jesus performed on his apostles before
being crucified, and is meant to be a gesture of
service. Francis contrasted that gesture with the
“gesture of destruction” carried out by the
Brussels attackers, saying they wanted to destroy the brotherhood of humanity represented by the
migrants.

“We have different cultures and religions,
but we are brothers and we want to live in
peace,” Francis said in his homily, delivered
off-the-cuff in the windy courtyard of the
court.

Several of the migrants then wept as Francis knelt
before them, poured holy water from a brass
pitcher over their feet, wiped them clean and
kissed them.

Francis was greeted with a banner reading
“Welcome” in a variety of languages as he walked
down a makeshift aisle to celebrate the Mass. But
only a fraction of the 892 asylum-seekers living at
the shelter attended, and many of the seats were
left empty. Those who came out, though, received a personal greeting from the Pope at the end of
Mass, with the pontiff even posing for selfies and
accepting notes as he moved down the rows.

Vatican rules had long called for only men to
participate in the foot-washing ritual, and previous
popes and many priests traditionally performed it
on 12 Catholic men, symbolising Jesus’ 12
apostles and further cementing the doctrine of an
all-male priesthood.

Photos: Pope Francis Kisses And Washes Feets Of Muslim, 4 Nigerian Catholics

The Vatican said on Thursday that four women
and eight men took part. The women included an
Italian Catholic who works at the centre and three
Eritrean Coptic Christian migrants. The men
included four Catholics from Nigeria, three Muslims
from Mali, Syria and Pakistan and a Hindu man from India.

The Vatican’s new norms said anyone from the
“people of God” could be chosen to participate in
the ceremony. While the phrase “people of God”
refers to baptized Christians, the decree also said
that pastors should instruct “both the chosen
faithful and others so that they may participate in the rite consciously, actively and fruitfully,”
suggesting that the rite could be open to non-
Catholics as well.
The Vatican spokesman, the Reverend Federico
Lombardi, said the Vatican norms are meant for
traditional liturgies in Catholic communities, not necessarily a unique papal Mass where the overall
message is one of universal brotherhood and the
love of God for all his children.

“We must always take the pastoral context
into account,” Lombardi said in an email.
“Norms that are appropriate for a parish
celebration aren’t to be considered binding
on a very unique celebration of the pope in
a refugee center with a non-Christian majority.”

Photos: Pope Francis Kisses And Washes Feets Of Muslim, 4 Nigerian Catholics

Photos: Pope Francis Kisses And Washes Feets Of Muslim, 4 Nigerian Catholics

Photos: Pope Francis Kisses And Washes Feets Of Muslim, 4 Nigerian Catholics

Photos: Pope Francis Kisses And Washes Feets Of Muslim, 4 Nigerian Catholics

Photos: Pope Francis Kisses And Washes Feets Of Muslim, 4 Nigerian Catholics

Photos: Pope Francis Kisses And Washes Feets Of Muslim, 4 Nigerian Catholics

Photos: Pope Francis Kisses And Washes Feets Of Muslim, 4 Nigerian Catholics

Photos: Pope Francis Kisses And Washes Feets Of Muslim, 4 Nigerian Catholics

Photos: Pope Francis Kisses And Washes Feets Of Muslim, 4 Nigerian Catholics

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