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Pope Francis carried out a foot-washing ritual at a centre for asylum seekers outside of Rome on Holy Thursday. As part of the ceremony, the Pope washed the feet of migrants from Mali, Eritrea, Syria and Pakistan.
"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," said the Pope as he knelt down to carry out the ritual that has become a part of the Holy Thursday Mass since the 1950s. The ceremony symbolises Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last supper before he was crucified.
The Pope was greeted with a banner reading "Welcome" in several languages as he entered the asylum centre and made his way towards a makeshift aisle. Several migrants were seen crying as the Pope washed their feet, reported AP News. He also posed for selfies after the ceremony. Amongst those in attendance of the foot-washing ritual, included an Italian Catholic, three Eritrean Coptic Christians, four Catholics from Nigeria, three Muslims from Mali, Syria and Pakistan, and a Hindu man from India. Earlier, the Pope Francis overturned a centuries-old tradition that banned women from the foot-washing service during Lent that had until now been reserved only for men and boys.
Addressing the recent Brussels attacks, Pope Francis said: "There are manufacturers, arms dealers who want blood, not peace; they want the war, not fraternity...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.
"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.'"