News / Europe

Pope Includes Women for First Time in Holy Thursday Rite

Pope Francis washes the foot of a prisoner at Casal del Marmo youth prison in Rome, Italy, March 28, 2013.
Pope Francis washes the foot of a prisoner at Casal del Marmo youth prison in Rome, Italy, March 28, 2013.
Reuters
Two young women were among 12 people whose feet Pope Francis washed and kissed at a traditional ceremony in a Rome youth prison on Holy Thursday, the first time a pontiff has included females in the rite.
    
The pope travelled to the Casal del Marmo prison on Rome's outskirts for the traditional Mass, which commemorates Jesus's gesture of humility towards his apostles the night before he died.

The ceremony has been traditionally limited to men because all of Jesus' apostles were male. The Vatican spokesman said two of the 12 whose feet were washed were Muslim inmates.
    
While the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio included women in the rite when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, it was the first time women had taken part in a papal Holy Thursday ceremony.
    
Taking the ceremony to a youth prison was also a papal first and Francis, who was elected only two weeks ago, said he wanted to be closer to those who were suffering.
    
All popes in living memory have held the service either in St. Peter's or the Basilica of St. John in Lateran, which is the pope's cathedral church in his capacity as bishop of Rome.
    
In a brief, unscripted homily, the pope told the young inmates that everyone, including him, had to be in the service of others.

"It is the example of the Lord. He was the most important but he washed the feet of others. The most important must be at the service of others,'' he said.

At a Mass in the Vatican on Thursday morning, Francis urged Catholic priests to devote themselves to helping the poor and suffering instead of worrying about careers as Church "managers''.

His homily at his first Holy Thursday service as Roman Catholic leader was the latest sign since his surprise election two weeks ago of his determination that the 1.2 billion-member Church should be closer to the poor.

"We need to go out, then, in order to experience our own anointing [as priests] ... to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters,'' he said during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
    
Scandal 
  
The 76-year-old pope has inherited a Vatican rocked by a scandal in which documents leaked to the media spoke of alleged corruption in its administration and depicted prelates as fighting among themselves to advance their careers.
    
At the Mass, the start of four days of hectic activities leading up to Easter this Sunday, Francis said priests should not get bogged down in "introspection'' but step outside of themselves and concentrate on those who need their help.

"Those who do not go out of themselves, instead of being mediators, gradually become intermediaries, managers. We know the difference: the intermediary, the manager ... doesn't put his own skin and his own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks,'' he said.

In the next few weeks, Francis is expected to start making changes in the Curia, the central bureaucracy that was at the heart of the so-called "Vatileaks'' scandal.
    
Speaking to about 1,600 priests from Rome who attended the St Peter's Mass, he said those who did not live in humility close to the people risked becoming "collectors of antiques or novelties - instead of being shepherds living with 'the smell of the sheep'''.
    
The pope took the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi, who is associated with austerity and helping the poor. The new pontiff has already set a clear tone for a humbler papacy and Church.

The four days leading up to Easter are the most hectic in the Church's liturgical calendar.
    
On Friday Francis will preside at two Good Friday services including the traditional "Via Crucis'' (Way of the Cross) procession around the ancient Colosseum in Rome.
    
He celebrates an Easter eve service on Saturday night and on Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Church's liturgical calendar, he will deliver his first "Urbi et Orbi'' (to the city and the world) message to a large crowd in St. Peter's Square.​

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid