Pope Francis issued a fresh appeal for world peace on Thursday, in an interview published hours before he was due to perform the pre-Easter ritual of washing prison inmates’ feet.
After leading a mass in St Peter’s Basilica, Francis was scheduled to visit Paliano prison, about 75 km south-east of Rome.
In previous years, the pope washed feet in a juvenile prison, a centre for the disabled, a high-security jail and a refugee centre.
“All I want is to call even more strongly for peace for this world subjugated by arm traffickers who profit from the blood of men and women,” Francis told Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
“Violence is no cure for our broken world,” he added.
The washing of the feet recalls the gesture that Christians believe Jesus performed on the 12 apostles before the Last Supper. It shows that the man the apostles saw as their leader was capable of the most humble act.
Francis said the Catholic Church’s duty should be to “stand by the last in line, the marginalized, the discarded,” and added that convicts should not be judged too harshly because “we are all sinners, but Jesus forgives us with his mercy.”
Easter, falling on Sunday, celebrates the resurrection of Jesus and is the most important Christian holiday.
In the run-up to it, Francis is scheduled to preside over the traditional Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession on Friday, and lead an Easter vigil on Saturday.(dpa/NAN)