Pope Francis allowed nuns and priests to kiss his papal ring during his weekly audience in St Peter’s Square, two days after a video showing him pulling his hand away from several faithful drew criticism.
Some conservative critics of the Pope feel he is abandoning Church doctrine and tradition, and seized on him jerking his hand away from Catholics seeking to kiss his ring as what they believe is evidence of him shunning age-old traditions.
But many noted that a short clip that made the rounds online didn’t give the full picture.
During a visit on Monday to Loreto, a major Italian pilgrimage site, Francis received a long line of faithful, some of whom shook his hand, while others kissed his hand or bowed down in a gesture of reverence. He only began pulling his hand away after having greeted a large number of people.
Those coming to his defence noted that he still had to greet sick people and lead a prayer.
The video clip also become material for jokes. Comedian Noah Trevor on the ‘Daily Show’ on Tuesday evening imitated Francis pulling his hand back and quipped “I am impressed at how quick he is, like every single time”.
But Francis yesterday allowed nuns and priests to kiss his hand during his general audience.
Known as the fisherman’s ring from the apostle Peter, who was a fisherman and the first pope, Francis’s version is gold-plated silver and depicts St Peter holding the keys of the Holy See.
Each pope picks his own ring, which will be destroyed at the end of his papacy, a formality that signifies the conclusion of a pontiff’s reign.