RELIGION

Pope Francis' Second Holy Thursday Foot Washing To Include Muslims, Women

In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis washes the foot of an inmate at the juveni
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis washes the foot of an inmate at the juvenile detention center of Casal del Marmo, Rome, Thursday, March 28, 2013. Francis washed the feet of a dozen inmates at a juvenile detention center in a Holy Thursday ritual that he celebrated for years as archbishop and is continuing now that he is pope. Two of the 12 were young women, an unusual choice given that the rite re-enacts Jesus' washing of the feet of his male disciples. The Mass was held in the Casal del Marmo facility in Rome, where 46 young men and women currently are detained. Many of them are Gypsies or North African migrants, and the Vatican said the 12 selected for the rite weren't necessarily Catholic. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)

On Thursday Pope Francis will visit the Don Gnocchi Center, a home for the elderly and disabled in Rome, to wash the feet of 12 residents for the Holy Week ritual.

According to the Catholic News Service, those 12 will include a woman and a Muslim, which falls in line with Pope Francis' actions during last year's Maundy Thursday.

The ceremony, which is rooted in the story of the Last Supper, made headlines last year when the pope visited a youth detention center and washed the feet of several young women.

Silvia Stefanoni, the Deputy CEO and Director of Policy and Programs at HelpAge International, told Vatican Radio the pope has shown a commitment to bring attention to those most often forgotten in society, including the elderly and disabled. "It is giving a voice," Stefanoni said. "It's showing respect for their dignity."

In November Pope Francis critiqued society's tendency to "hide physical fragility," which he rejected by greeting hundreds of people in wheelchairs and encouraging them to become "protagonists" in the Catholic church.

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