Unlike his predecessors who continued to pursue traditional Church doctrine, Pope Francis, known for his unconventional way of leading the Catholic Church, earned “controversies” and abuzz online for discontinue the ring-kissing for significant reservation.
The pontiff has addressed the “mystery” of why he barred his hand from worshippers’ kisses, explaining it was a “simple question of hygiene”.
As per Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said the Pope was worried about germs when meeting Catholics last Wednesday.
The clarification comes out following an instance where Pope Francis pulled away his hand from attempting to kiss him went viral.
Conservative critics rounded on the pontiff, accusing him of shunning the centuries-old tradition.
“It was a simple question of hygiene,” Mr Gisotti explained on Thursday, telling reporters that he had asked Pope Francis about it.
The Vatican official said that with so many people queuing up to see the pontiff in St Peter’s Square, he was mindful of the risk of spreading germs.
The 82-year-old head of the Catholic Church was said to be “amused” by the controversy, a papal aide told Reuters news agency.
He added that the Pope “likes to embrace people and be embraced by people”, and that he was happy to let people kiss his papal ring in small groups.
The papal ring, worn on the third finger of the right hand, may be the most powerful symbol of a pontiff’s authority.
Kissing it – a tradition thought to date back hundreds of years – is considered a mark of respect and obedience.
As soon as a pope dies, the ring is immediately destroyed in order to indicate the end of his reign.