“We have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace”
Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of Muslim, Christian and Hindu refugees Thursday during an Easter Week Mass with asylum-seekers at a shelter in Castelnuovo di Porto, outside Rome.
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 and brotherhood at a time of increased anti-Muslim sentiment following the Brussels attacks.
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 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.