Pope Francis Sets Record Straight About Awkward Ring Kiss Saga
The internet lost it when footage emerged of Pope Francis pulling away from worshippers desperate to kiss his ring, now he's explained the awkward interaction.
The 82-year-old was accused of shunning the centuries-old tradition after he refused to let worshippers' lips anywhere near his papal ring in Loreto, Italy on Monday.
The cringe-worthy video was posted to social media and quickly went viral, amassing more than 11 million views by Friday morning.
Some took the rejection well, bowing their head and shaking his hand, while others stumbled when the pope pulled away as they leant forward to kiss the ring.
Now, the head of the Catholic Church has broken his silence to reveal the very simple reason he withdrew his hand from the long line of worshippers.
Germs. Pope Francis didn't want to spread germs.
"The Holy Father told me that the motivation was very simple: hygiene," Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told reporters on Thursday.
"Personally, he likes to embrace people," he added.
Gisotti confirmed the Pope isn't against the centuries-old tradition -- a sign of respect and obedience -- and is happy to let people kiss his papal ring in small groups, but said there were simply too many people at this particular mass for it to be done safely.
Pope Francis was said to be "amused" by the controversy, a papal aide told Reuters news agency.