He pulled his hand away due to hygiene issues.

Nuns and priests can now again kiss the pontiff’s papal ring two days after a video depicting him pulling his ring hand away from the faithful. Some accused Pope Francis of abandoning the Catholic Church’s tradition and associated doctrines. Many noted, however, the short video clip did not portray the complete picture.

The mystery as to why Pope Francis quickly took away his hand when the faithful tried to kiss it was resolved: he was unwilling to spread germs. Alessandro Gisotti, the Vatican spokesperson, told the assembled reporters it was a question of hygiene and the pope told him so after he asked Francis himself. The spokesperson pointed out the line of people wanting to meet the pope was long and the leader of the Catholic church was unwilling to spread germs as a line of persons continuously kissed his hand after distressingly short intervals.

The Catholic tradition of ring kissing is an age-old one, with the faithful touching their lips to a ring worn either by a pope or a bishop. The action depicts obedience and respect. Gisotti pointed out that the pope has no problem to be kissed on the ring when the people doing it come in small groups. The pope visibly had no problems extending his hand and keeping it there when a few people from the lay audience waited to greet him. The Vatican spokesperson pointed out Pope Francis is an outgoing person by heart, and he gets great pleasure from meeting people and embracing them.

The present pope is known for joyously embracing babies handed over by their proud parents. He also sips from any mate gourd glass offered to him by strangers when he goes on short tours outside in the St. Peter’s Square on his popemobile.

Vatican watchers are aware that Pope Francis is not the only pope in the history of the Catholic church to loathe being kissed. Even his predecessor, Pope John Paul and one of the most conservative popes in recent times, Pope Benedict, felt the practice to be an absurd one. They mainly did not like long lines of the faithful waiting to kiss the ring.

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