Pope Francis to offer hope by washing young inmates’ feet

Rome, Italy, Mar 27, 2013 / 04:59 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ decision to wash the feet of 12 young people at a juvenile detention center on Holy Thursday is being described as a display of love for the young people and invitation to renewal.

Prison chaplain Father Gaetano Greco told CNA that the Pope’s visit “will make them see that their lives are not bound by a mistake, that forgiveness exists and that they can begin to build their lives again.”

Fr. Greco confirmed that Pope Francis will wash the feet of 12 of the young people at the detention center after the Vatican announced that the new Holy Father was planning to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at Rome’s Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center on Holy Thursday.

Some of the young men volunteered to have their feet washed, Fr. Greco explained, while others were given an invitation to help them overcome their embarrassment or self-consciousness.

“But all of them are very happy, and the visit will make them think, reconsider and understand that there are people in this world who are concerned for them,” he said.

He added that many of the juveniles come from broken families and have sought an escape in drugs and crime.

“That Pope Francis himself is concerned for them is very significant, because it exposes this problem that so many disadvantaged boys and girls are experiencing,” the priest said.

The residents chosen to have their feet washed by the Pope range in age from 16 to 21 years old.

Pope Francis’ visit to the juvenile detention center means that he will not celebrate Holy Thursday at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

In 2007, former Pope Benedict XVI also celebrated Holy Thursday Mass at the prison.

On that occasion, Benedict said, “Life without God doesn’t work because it has no light.” He encouraged the young people “to abandon sin and chose to return to God.” 

“Let us together take this journey of interior liberation,” he told them.

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