Awkward footage of Pope Francis pulling his hand away and not allowing worshippers to kiss his ring has gone viral.
The Pope can be seen greeting a line of people at a shrine in Loreto, Italy, allowing some to kiss the papal ring, but denying most by quickly pulling his hand away as they bend over.
Kissing the Pope’s ring has long been a Catholic tradition and a gesture of respect towards the office, so it’s unsurprising that the video has sparked such widespread debate online.
South African Jesuit Priest Russell suggested that the tradition was outdated, tweeting: “It’s high time kissing bishops’ rings disappears altogether. It’s just ridiculous and has nothing to do with tradition. It’s an import from monarchies. Much of the pomp around bishops should be ditched.”
Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, a supporter of Francis agreed.
“He’s making sure that they engage with him, not treat him like a sacred relic. He’s the Vicar of Christ, not a Roman emperor,” he tweeted.
While the Vatican has not released a statement on why worshippers were being rejected, one Twitter user said that people who visited the Pope were told specifically not to kneel or kiss the ring.