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Pope Francis refused to let people kiss ring ‘to avoid spreading germs’

A spokesman said the Pope's motivation was very simple: hygiene

Pope Francis repeatedly pulled his hand away from people trying to kiss his ring because he didn’t want to spread germs, a Vatican spokesman has said.

AP reports that Alessandro Gisotti said the Pope was concerned about hygiene when he began pulling his hand away, as throngs of worshippers lined up to greet him at Loreto on Monday.

A video of the incident went viral, prompting some to criticise the Pope for apparently abandoning tradition.

However, Gisotti said that he had spoken to the Pope about the incident. “The Holy Father told me that the motivation was very simple: hygiene,” Gisotti said. “He wants to avoid the risk of contagion for the people, not for him.”

He added that Pope Francis is happy for smaller groups of people to kiss his ring, where germs are less likely to spread, as happened at the General Audience on Wednesday.

“You all know that he has a great joy in meeting and embracing people, and being embraced by them,” Gisotti told reporters.