The pope also officially decreed that women -- previously barred from the ceremony -- would now be included.
Maundy Thursday marks the Last Supper of Jesus before his crucifixion.
The Pope's crucial work of engaging with liberation theology is changing the landscape of the church. It is putting the work of the church in the line with Jesus' own ministry which was for the poor, the marginalized and the disenfranchised.
"Now we'll show them!" The oppressed people, beaten down by so many empires, would have their day. The most powerful force anyone had seen in history, which had brutally occupied those poor people, would be humbled.
We all need help maintaining our personal spiritual practice. We hope that these daily meditations, prayers and mindful awareness
Francis' message is clear: as people and institutions, we need to be welcoming, not defer to the dogma of powerful, hierarchical authorities. This is more and more the lesson taking off in my field as well, where a powerful concept of recovery is spreading.
The Church cannot be all change, all flux, lacking all core or conviction. But at the same time, the Church has been most alive when it has been swept by change.
The decisions made during Francis' first Holy Thursday as pope will signal much about just what sort of father Francis will be: a loving one who values his daughters as much as his sons, who truly listens and is willing to admit his own mistakes, or a father who signals merely a shift in papal style but not in substance?
Saint Francis is reported to have famously said, "Preach the Gospel always, and when necessary, use words." His namesake's Holy Thursday homily can be short and sweet, for his actions have already spoken volumes.
Yet that's precisely where Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Thursday next week, washing and kissing prisoners' feet at Rome's