Pope washes feet of Muslim refugees, says 'we are brothers'

Pope washes feet of Muslim refugees, says we are brothers
Pope Francis performs the foot-washing ritual at the Castelnuovo di Porto refugees centre near Rome on March 24, 2016

Castelnuovo di Porto, Italy - 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.



By AP

Published: Fri 25 Mar 2016, 9:01 AM

Last updated: Sat 26 Mar 2016, 1:01 AM

Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of Muslim, Orthodox, Hindu and Catholic refugees Thursday, declaring them children of the same God, in a gesture of welcome and brotherhood at a time when anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment has spiked following the Brussels attacks.
Francis denounced the carnage as a "gesture of war" carried out by blood-thirsty people beholden to the weapons industry during an Easter Week Mass with asylum-seekers at the shelter in Castelnuovo di Porto, outside Rome.
"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 center.
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 outdoor 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; at the end of the Mass, Francis greeted each refugee, one by one, posing for selfies and accepting notes as he moved down the rows.
Francis shocked many Catholics within weeks of his 2013 election by performing the ritual on women and Muslims at a juvenile detention center. After years of violating the rules outright, Francis in January changed the regulations to explicitly allow women and girls to participate.
The Vatican said Thursday that four women and eight men took part. The women included an Italian Catholic who works at the center 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.

Pope Francis performs the foot-washing ritual at the Castelnuovo di Porto refugees center near Rome on March 24, 2016.
Pope Francis performs the foot-washing ritual at the Castelnuovo di Porto refugees center near Rome on March 24, 2016.
Pope Francis performs the foot-washing ritual at the Castelnuovo di Porto refugees center near Rome on March 24, 2016.
Pope Francis performs the foot-washing ritual at the Castelnuovo di Porto refugees center near Rome on March 24, 2016.

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