Pope Francis has explained why he always withdrew his hand from worshipers’ kisses.
The Pope says it is a “simple question of hygiene”.
Vatican Spokesman Alessandro Gisotti says the Pope was worried about germs when meeting Catholics last Wednesday.
Conservative critics rounded on the Pontiff, accusing him of shunning the centuries-old tradition.
Mr. Gisotti said that with so many people queuing up to see the Pontiff in St Peter’s Square, he was mindful of the risk of spreading germs.
Mr. Gisotti added that the Pope “likes to embrace people and be embraced by people”, and that he was happy to let people kiss his Papal Ring in small groups.
The Papal Ring, worn on the third finger of the right hand, may be the most powerful symbol of a Pontiff’s authority.