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Archbishop Fisichella explains Pope's choice to wash feet of refugees

March 22, 2016

By washing the feet of refugees during the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, Pope Francis is dramatizing the need to show respect for every person, argues Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization.

With his gesture, the archbishop writes, the Pope "wishes to say to us that it is necessary to give due attention to the weakest at this historical moment; that we are all called upon to restore their dignity, without recourse to subterfuge."

Archbishop Fisichella says that the papal gesture should be understood in the context of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. He even makes the claim that the huge influx of refugees into Europe in recent weeks, coming during the Jubilee Year, is "a clear sign that Christians experience this moment as an opporutnity to them to feel God's closeness, tenderness, and forgiveness." 

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  • Posted by: feedback - Mar. 23, 2016 8:05 AM ET USA

    In this symbol a priority should be given to Christian refugees, those who suffered persecution for Christ. The Lord washed the feet of His Apostles explaining to Peter that "he was clean" (unlike Judas) and only his feet needed to be washed. [John 13:10-11]