[Watch] Pope’s ring-kissing controversy not what it seems

How should you greet a pope? For centuries, it was Catholic tradition to kiss the papal foot. Nowadays, many faithful choose to bow and kiss the papal ring.

Conservative Catholics, who routinely accuse the current Pope of straying from church doctrine and tradition, now suspect that he has an end to ring-kissing in his sights.

They point to video taken on Monday in the Italian town of Loreto, which shows the Pope withdrawing his hand from Catholics trying to kiss his ring.

Pope Francis really doesn’t want anyone kissing his ring.

Official Vatican TV footage shows that Francis stood in a receiving line for around 13 minutes and received (by my count) at least 113 monks, nuns, and parishioners – either individually or in pairs.

No one appeared to offer any instruction on how to greet him. During the first 10 minutes, 14 people shook Francis’s hand without bowing down to kiss his ring.

In this time, 41 people bowed down towards Francis’ hands, either making the symbolic gesture of kissing his ring, or actually kissing the ring itself.

The Pope did not protest.

Nine went even further. They bowed and kissed his ring, and then embraced him as well (one particularly devout monk outmatched everyone else by kissing both of the Pope’s hands.)

After the first 10 minutes, the Pope’s behaviour changed. The greeting line appeared to speed up.

During a 53-second period, Francis snapped his hand away from 19 people trying to bow and kiss his ring. One particularly unfortunate man ended up kissing his own hand after the pope suddenly withdrew from the greeting.

And this is the section which has been widely shared online.

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