Pope Francis on Thursday washed and kissed the feet of Muslim, Christian and Hindu refugees before declaring them all children of the same God.
As reported by Washington Post, the Pope performed a gesture of welcome and brotherhood at a time of increased anti-Muslim sentiment following the Brussels attacks.
Denouncing the carnage as a “gesture of war” carried out by blood-thirsty people beholden to the weapons industry, Francis said that the attackers wanted to destroy the brotherhood of humanity represented by the migrants.
He was speaking during an Easter Week Mass with asylum-seekers at a shelter in Castelnuovo di Porto, outside Rome.
The Holy Thursday rite re-enacts the foot-washing ritual Jesus performed on his apostles before being crucified, and is meant as a gesture of service.
Francis, however, contrasted that gesture with the “gesture of destruction” carried out by the Brussels attackers.
“We have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace,” Francis said in his homily, delivered off-the-cuff in the windy courtyard of the center.
Several of the migrants wept as Francis knelt before them, poured holy water from a brass pitcher over their feet, wiped them clean and kissed them.
Francis was greeted with a banner reading “Welcome” in a variety of languages as he walked down a makeshift aisle to celebrate the Mass.