During a traditional pre-Easter ritual the pontiff washed and kissed refugees feet in a shelter near Rome and condemned arms manufacturers as partly responsible for the Brussels attacks.
As Europe continues to grapple with the migrant crisis, Pope Francis chose a refugee shelter near Rome to celebrate the traditional foot-washing ceremony ahead of Easter.
Meeting with Muslims, Hindus and Catholics, it also sent a powerful message of unity in the aftermath of terror attacks in Brussels, which the pontiff squarely condemned:
“Behind that gesture (in Brussels) there are arms producers, arm dealers, traffickers who want blood, not peace. All of us here say we are different, we have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace.”
Since taking over the papacy, Francis has chosen to carry out the Maundy Thursday rites of washing and kissing the feet of prisoners, the elderly and disabled people. He also took the step of declaring women would officially be included in the ritual.