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Vatican explains that Pope Francis withdrew his ring for hygiene reasons

The video was shared online and had gained more than 11 million views on Twitter.

Image: Twitter

THE VATICAN HAS reacted to the viral video of Pope Francis withdrawing his hand to stop people kissing his ring, explaining that it was done because he feared it could spread germs.

The incident was captured on Monday during a visit to the Italian hill town of Loreto where the 82-year-old greeted dozens of parishioners.

While some simply bowed their head and shook his hand, others leaned forward to kiss his ring.

The smiling pope can be seen pulling back his hand repeatedly.

“The pope told me the reason he did not allow people to kiss his ring was because of hygiene… to avoid contagion when there are long queues of people,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said today.

Personally, he likes to embrace people.

The video was shared online and had gained more than 11 million views on Twitter by this afternoon.

The scene in Loreto drew criticism from conservative Catholic observers who also frequently attack the pope over what they consider his too liberal approach to social issues.

However, it has since emerged that the video was only a short version of a longer clip, which shows the pontiff patiently letting people kiss his ring at first before the queues grew longer.

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Nonetheless, the incident has sparked a public debate over decorum during a papal meet and greet.

The Vatican advises worshippers not to bend the knee in front of Francis who is said not to appreciate the practice.

© – AFP 2019

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