Pope celebrates surprise Holy Thursday with ousted cardinal

Pope Francis celebrated a surprise Holy Thursday Mass with the cardinal he fired last year, extending an extraordinary gesture to Cardinal Angelo Becciu by celebrating the liturgy that commemorates Jesus’ Last Supper with his apostles before his crucifixion.

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April 2, 2021 - 10:51 AM

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis celebrated a surprise Holy Thursday Mass with the cardinal he fired last year, extending an extraordinary gesture to Cardinal Angelo Becciu by celebrating the liturgy that commemorates Jesus’ Last Supper with his apostles before his crucifixion.

News of the celebration in Becciu’s private chapel was confirmed by Becciu’s private secretary. In addition, a longtime friend who was in contact with Becciu after the papal visit said the cardinal was “very happy” with the meeting. A Vatican official said he couldn’t confirm Francis’ private initiative but added that “such a gesture of paternity doesn’t seem strange on a day like today, Holy Thursday.”

The visit carried enormous symbolic weight and could suggest Francis may have come to realize he had erred in his handling of the Becciu dossier. Francis has long prized the Holy Thursday service as a ritual of repentance and service.

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