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Pope says hand-kiss recoil was 'question of hygiene'

March 29, 2019 12:37 pm
A youth kisses the ring of Pope Francis during a meeting in Brazil [Source: BBC]

Pope Francis has addressed the mystery of why he withdrew his hand from worshippers’ kisses, explaining it was a “simple question of hygiene”.

Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said the Pope was worried about germs when meeting Catholics last Wednesday.

Video showing Pope Francis pulling away his hand from people attempting to kiss him went viral.

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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.

Mr Gisotti 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.

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