“Press on! Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope. Understood?” This was the message with which Pope Francis greeted the young detainees of the Casal del Marmo Jail in Rome, Italy at the conclusion of the Eucharistic celebration on Holy Thursday. During the liturgy the Pope had washed the feet of twelve young detainees of different nationalities and religious faiths. Among them were two young women, one Italian Roman Catholic and one Serbian Muslim. Pope Francis is accustoming us every day to strong gestures that are unusual and even revolutionary. This gesture was particularly striking given its location and the fact that the Pope did it beyond the view of cameras.
Carlo Tedde, social entrepreneur from the Economy of Communion (EoC) and chairman of the consortium of social cooperatives in Sardinia, Italy (Consortio Solidarieta) and also representative of the Confcooperative Sardegna, has worked for years with the Cooperativa Elan that manages the laundry services of the juvenile detention centres in Cagliari, Italy.
Carlo, what do you think of the Pope’s gesture?
“It seemed to express the radicalness of Christianity. In today’s world where all that seems to matter is appearances, this was not an act that was done for appearances sake. It was a powerful but simple gesture, performed with the joy of a pope who did it so that we would believe it. It was a gesture that returns us to the purity of Jesus’ message and helps us to stay on the real Christian path.”
How do you interpret the fact that Pope Francis chose a juvenile jail to celebrate Holy Thursday?
“This is a very important fact for me. I have a personal experience of this myself. At a very difficult moment in my life I was in a juvenile jail in England, after having fallen to every possible low. But what I still had within me was the powerful energy of a young man who still had his whole life ahead of him, and an energy that needed to be redirected in the direction of hope.”
When my family was fed up with me and my misdemeanors, in that juvenile detention centre I met people who had faith in me, and this gave me the push that allowed me to begin again.
Yesterday, by choosing to wash the feet of the ‘least’ and by choosing an institution that often because of a suffocating bureacracy is not able to do what it ought to, the Pope wanted to give hope. His gesture truly presented the strong point of the faith that begins from the simplest things, from the least, from the ‘least’ who, if you think about it, are the ‘first’ because they’re our kids. Hope is conatgious and giving them hope means giving everyone hope.”
By Antonella Ferrucci
Source: EoC online