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Pope Francis Washes the Feet of Migrants

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The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, recently visited a refugee centre to wash and kiss the feet of Muslim, Orthodox, Hindu and Catholic refugees. Pope Francis celebrated the traditional Easter Week foot-washing ceremony at a refugee shelter outside Rome, inaugurating the most solemn period of the Catholic Church’s Easter season. The Holy Thursday rite re-enacts the foot-washing ritual Jesus performed on his apostles, and is meant as a gesture of service. Jesus washed the feet of his 12 apostles at the Last Supper.  Eight men and four women took part in the ritual, including an Italian Catholic; three Eritrean Coptic Christians; four Catholics from Nigeria; three Muslims from Mali, Syria and Pakistan; and a Hindu man from India. And one by one, Pope Francis knelt down before these migrants on Holy Thursday and washed their feet. The ritual, performed in a center for asylum seekers outside of Rome, comes amid anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe and in the wake of the terrorist attack in Brussels. “All of us together, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelical [Protestants] brothers and sisters are children of the same God. We want to live in peace, ” Pope Francis said during his homily. A number of the migrants whose feet were washed by the Pope had tears streaming down their faces.

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