The Seattle Times

RICCARDO DE LUCA / AP
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pope washes feet of elderly, disabled in rite

Pope Francis kneels to wash the foot of a man at the Don Gnocchi Foundation Center in Rome, Thursday The pontiff washed the feet of 12 elderly and disabled people, women and non-Catholics among them, in a pre-Easter ritual. Francis' decision in 2013 to perform the Holy Thursday ritual on women and Muslims just two weeks after his election riled traditionalist Catholics, who pointed to the Vatican's own regulations that the ritual be performed only on men since Jesus' 12 apostles were men. This year, Francis knelt and washed, dried and kissed the feet of a dozen people, some in wheelchairs. He said the ritual is a gesture of "a slave's service."