They came from Mali, Eritrea, Syria and Pakistan. They were Muslim, Hindu, Catholic and Coptic Christians. 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 a terrorist attack in Brussels, for which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility.
“All of us together, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelical [Protestants] brothers and sisters — children of the same God — we want to live in peace, integrated,” Francis said during his homily.
The foot-washing ritual became a part of Holy Thursday Mass in the 1950s.
A number of the migrants whose feet were washed by the pope had tears streaming down their faces.
Shortly after Francis became pope in 2013, he washed the feet of Muslims.
A massive crowd didn’t turn out to participate in the ceremony or listen to the pope’s homily on Thursday, though.
Francis condemned the attack in Brussels and those behind such violence. “There are manufacturers, arms dealers who want blood, not peace; they want the war, not fraternity,” the pope said.
“You, we, all of us together, of different religions, different cultures, but children of the same Father, brothers — and there, those poor people, who buy weapons to wreck fraternity,” Francis said Thursday. “Today, at this time, when I do the same act of Jesus washing the feet of twelve of you, let us all make a gesture of brotherhood, and let us all say: ‘We are different, we are different, we have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace.'”
The pope is coming out as a messenger of peace with a dark agenda. One that seeks to unite all religions ‘as they are’. Read here, we are not all children of God.