Europe

Pope to wash feet of refugees in 1st application of new law

Pope Francis will wash the feet of young refugees during the Easter Week foot-washing ritual, after making official his practice of having women participate in the ceremony as well as men.

The Vatican didn't say Tuesday if non-Catholics would be among the 12 refugees participating in the Holy Thursday rite at an asylum center in Castelnuovo di Porto, north of Rome.

Within weeks of becoming pope, Francis stunned conservatives by washing the feet of women and Muslims at a juvenile detention facility.

The ritual re-enacts a rite Jesus performed on his apostles before being crucified. Vatican rules had long called for only men to participate, recalling Jesus' 12 apostles and cementing the doctrine of an all-male priesthood.

But Francis in January changed the regulations to explicitly allow women to participate.