Pope Francis explained his reason for pulling his hand away from people who had lined up to kiss his ring: to avoid spreading germs, a spokesperson for the Vatican said on Thursday.
Francis appeared in Loreto, Italy on Monday, where he greeted dozens before he starting to draw his hand back to discourage people from trying to kiss his ring, as is tradition.
"The Holy Father told me that the motivation was very simple: hygiene," Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told reporters on Thursday, according to CBS News. "He wants to avoid the risk of contagion for the people, not for him."
Video of the pope pulling his hand back caused controversy among Catholics, with the conservative website Lifesite describing it as “disturbing.”
Gisotti added that Francis happily allows small groups of people to kiss his ring, which he did on Wednesday.
"You all know that he has a great joy in meeting and embracing people, and being embraced by them," he said.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.