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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid