Pope to celebrate Holy Thursday with young refugees

IMAGE: CNS photo/ Tony Gentile, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will celebrate the Holy
Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper with young refugees in Castelnuovo di Porto,
about 15 miles north of Rome.

“Washing the feet of the refugees, Pope Francis is
asking for respect for each one of them,” wrote Archbishop Rino
Fisichella, the main organizer of the Vatican’s Year of Mercy initiatives.

Announcing the location for the pope’s celebration March 24,
Archbishop Fisichella noted that many of the young people at the Center for Asylum
Seekers are not Catholic, which makes Pope Francis’ decision to wash their feet
“even more eloquent.”

“It indicates respect as the main path to peace,”
he said March 22. Respect means recognizing the other as a person, one who
“walks with me, suffers with me, rejoices with me.”

“Pope Francis will bow down and wash the feet of 12
refugees as a sign of service and attention to their condition,” the
archbishop said.

With tens of thousands of people fleeing persecution and
violence in many parts of the world, too many countries seem to think the best
solution “is to close their borders to feel safer or to build new
walls,” the archbishop said.

But one of the traditional “corporal works of
mercy” is to welcome the stranger, Archbishop Fisichella wrote in an article
for the Vatican newspaper. “Welcoming refugees then becomes for Christians
a tangible expression of living the Jubilee of Mercy.”

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