Pope Francis washed the feet of a Muslim woman prisoner in an unprecedented twist on the Holy Thursday tradition. Photo:
The decision of the new elected pope to wash the feet of 12 young people at a youth detention center is an obvious display of love for the young people and invitation to start new life.
Prison chaplain Father Gaetano Greco told CNA¬†that the Pope‚Äôs visit ‚Äúwill make them see that their lives are not bound by a mistake, that forgiveness exists and that they can begin to build their lives again.‚ÄĚ
As CNN explains, the act of foot-washing at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is an old Christian tradition that mirrors Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet.
“If the Lord has washed his disciples’ feet, you should do the same,” the pontiff is quoted as saying.
Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 young people after the Vatican announced that the new Holy Father was planning to celebrate the Mass of the Lord‚Äôs Supper at Rome‚Äôs Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center on Holy Thursday.
Some of the young men considered the Pope’s move as honor and volunteered to have their feet washed by the pontiff, Fr. Greco revealed, while others were given an invitation to help them overcome their embarrassment or self-consciousness.
‚ÄúBut all of them are very happy, and the visit will make them think, reconsider and understand that there are people in this world who are concerned for them,‚ÄĚ he said.
He wen on, adding that many of the young criminals come from broken families and have believed that drugs and crime would help them to escape their relatives.
‚ÄúThat Pope Francis himself is concerned for them is very significant, because it exposes this problem that so many disadvantaged boys and girls are experiencing,‚ÄĚ the priest said.
In a homily, Pope Francis has earlier urged priests to do less “soul-searching” and engage more with parishioners: “It is not in soul-searching… that we encounter the Lord.”
He told hundreds of cardinals, priests and bishops in St Peter’s Basilica: “We need to go out… to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters.”
Worshippers should “leave Mass looking as if they had heard good news”, the Pope¬† added.
Pope Fancis was elected to be a new pope and to succeed Benedict XVI, who visited the Casal del Marmo centre in 2007, but not for another purpose.
Since taking on the role, the Argentina-born pope has focused on a message of helping the poor and needy.
In his first general audience Wednesday, before crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square, he spoke of how following Christ “means learning to come out of ourselves … in order to meet others, in order to go toward the edges of our existence, to take the first steps towards our brothers and sisters, especially those who are farthest from us, those who are forgotten, those who need understanding, consolation and assistance.”
He also urged to put an end to the violence in the Central African Republic, where a coalition of rebels ousted President Francois Bozize this week. Francis said that ‘all those suffering in the African nation are in his prayers’.
“I call for an immediate halt to the violence and looting, and that a political solution to the crisis may be reached as soon as possible so that peace and harmony may be restored in that dear country, which has, for too long, been marked by conflict and division,” he said.
The Holy Week services will reach its culmination on Easter Sunday with Pope Francis’ first “Urbi et Orbi” blessing, directed to the whole world.