Pope Francis to Wash, Kiss Inmates' Feet
New pope will break Holy Thursday tradition
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2013 3:40 PM CDT
Pope Francis smiles during an audience with ambassadors from the 180 countries that have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, at the Vatican, Friday, March 22, 2013.   (AP Photo/Tony Gentile, Pool)

(Newser) – At least he's washing them first: The new pope plans to wash and kiss the feet of juvenile delinquents in a rare gesture next Thursday, the Guardian reports. Instead of holding Holy Thursday mass in either St Peter's basilica or the basilica of St John in Lateran, Pope Francis will celebrate in the chapel of a penal institute for minors in Rome. There, he will clean 12 inmates' feet in a gesture to honor Jesus' treatment of his disciples after the Last Supper.

More recently, Benedict XVI washed the feet of lay people during his first two years, but did it only with priests after 2008. John Paul II washed the feet of homeless men in 1980 but also stuck with men of the cloth after that. The Vatican says Francis' gesture will continue his tradition as archbishop of Buenos Aires, when he held the mass of the Lord's Supper in simple settings like shelters, hospitals, and prisons. For the record: Holy Thursday is the day before Good Friday. (Earlier today, Francis reached out to Islam and atheists.)

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