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Cardinal Tagle to wash feet of migrants, refugees on Holy Thursday

Cardinal Tagle to wash feet of migrants, refugees on Holy Thursday

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle washes and kisses the feet of former drug addicts, drug surrenders, policemen, government officials, volunteers and relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings during Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Manila Cathedral, April 13, 2017. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

March 27, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila will wash the feet of migrants and refugees during a Holy Week ritual that traditionally celebrates Christ’s washing of the feet of the apostles.

The head of Caritas Internationalis, who is leading a Vatican campaign to interact and welcome migrants and forcibly displaced people, said the faithful are invited to journey “in faith, hope and love” with migrants.

Among those whose feet Tagle will be washing at the Manila Cathedral are Marawi priest Fr. Teresito “Chito” Soganob and the parents of Joanna Demafelis, the overseas Filipino worker found dead in a freezer in Kuwait.

Soganub was the priest held captive by the Maute terrorist group for almost four months in Marawi City.

The priest’s inclusion in the Holy Thursday rite is also significant as the Church marks the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.

The ritual commemorates Jesus’ gesture to his twelve disciples on Holy Thursday, ahead of his death on the Cross the next day.

The cathedral said the ceremony aims to raise awareness about their plight as Pope Francis called on dioceses worldwide to support migrants and refugees.

Aside from Soganub and the Demafelis couple, Tagle will also wash the feet of a foreign couple, both Catholics, who sought refuge in the Philippines because of religious persecution in their homeland.

“This is a new mission for the Philippine Church—opening our arms to our Christian brethren who suffer persecution in their country,” the cardinal said.

Albeit quietly, the local Church has been helping a number of refugees over the last three years.

The migrants’ ministry of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in September 2017 reported that there are about 30 refugees, mostly from Pakistan, who are being cared for by the local Church.

There are also about 600 refugees and asylum seekers in the country and majority of them are from Iran, Syria, Pakistan and Somalia.

Below is the list of other people whose feet the cardinal will be washing at the cathedral on Holy Thursday:

    • Mr. and Mrs. Danilo Pelayo with their daughter Danica, a family relocated from their home in Paco, Manila to Cabuyao, Laguna. They represent the thousands of families in poor communities who face the risk of losing their only known home and the challenge of starting over again.
    • Isidro Indao and Kaylo Bontolan, both Lumad leaders and evacuees who fled their homelands because of the massive militarization and destruction by logging and mining companies. These “environmental defenders”, the cathedral said, “open our eyes to the new reality of environmental refugees”.
    • Mr. and Mrs. Giovanni and Yolicres Badidles, both come from the Philippine Navy. For a long time, they spent their lives separated from each other by their assignments, with Giovanni in Northern Luzon while Yolicres as part of the combat Force patrolling the West Palawan seas. “Their lives are images of our soliders who are displaced because of their assignments as they willingly offer their lives to defend our nation.”

Last year, Cardinal Tagle washed the feet of drug surrenderers and policemen in a gesture of peace amidst the drug-related killings in the country.