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A Unified Theory of Pope Francis

Re-tracing Jorge Bergoglio’s journey to forgiveness.

On March 28, 2013, only two weeks after he was elected, Pope Francis celebrated Holy Week in a jail in Rome. For the previous thousand years, hundreds of popes had re-enacted Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper, ceremonially pouring holy water over the toes of priests and bishops at the Vatican. Pope Francis, in a very clear snub of tradition, chose 12 juvenile offenders instead of priests. One pair of feet was deformed from too much walking in cheap shoes. Another was covered with gang tattoos. And, for the first time in church history, a Pope washed the feet of women, including those of a Muslim and a refugee from Bosnia.

“Washing your feet means that I serve you,” Bergoglio told the young men and women in an accent that still bore traces of his native Buenos Aires. “And we should all serve each other. We don’t wash each other’s feet every day…but it’s a symbol, a sign. A sign that we are here to help each other.”

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