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Pope Francis Follows Easter Traditions While Changing Some Of Them

Pope Francis washes the foot of a refugee during a ritual at the Castelnuovo di Porto refugees center outside Rome on Thursday.
l'Osservatore Romano
Pope Francis washes the foot of a refugee during a ritual at the Castelnuovo di Porto refugees center outside Rome on Thursday.

As Catholics and other Christians mark Good Friday, Pope Francis has presided over a procession at the Colosseum in Rome, recreating Jesus' suffering before the crucifixion.

He also took part in Good Friday services that you can see here, including a few moments when he lies face-down before the altar:

Francis' participation in the traditions of the Catholic Church often lead to changes or adaptations as he attempts to make the church more relevant to modern life. Events ahead of this Easter holiday were no exception.

On Holy Thursday, the pontiff washed and kissed the feet of Muslim, Christian and Hindu refugees at a center for asylum seekers just outside Rome. The event is portrayed as a gesture of humility, recalling the time Jesus washed the feet of his apostles. Previous popes have washed the feet of 12 Catholic men, often priests — but Pope Francis has shocked traditionalists by including women and people of other faiths in the ritual.

"We have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace," The Associated Press quoted the pope as saying Thursday. The news service said Francis had contrasted the ritual with the "gesture of destruction" carried out by the Brussels attackers.

The pope also criticized weapons manufacturers and traffickers, comparing them to Judas Iscariot, who is said to have betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. In his sermon at the center, Francis said, "Behind Judas, there were those who gave him money so that Jesus would be delivered. Behind that act [in Brussels], there are manufacturers, arms traffickers who want blood, not peace, who want war, not brotherhood."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: March 25, 2016 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this story said Pope Francis celebrated a Mass on Friday. He did participate in other services, but there are no Catholic masses on Good Friday.
Kevin Beesley

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