It is only a fool who does not change his mind, or so the saying goes.
Pope Francis who understand the saying too, seems to have had a change of heart about worshippers kissing his papal ring after allowing nuns to make the gesture during his weekly audience in St Peter’s Square.
The U-turn came after footage recently emerged of the pontiff pulling away from people visiting a major Italian pilgrimage site dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the hill town of Loreto.
The video went viral and sparked criticism from some who claimed he was abandoning age-old traditions.
LifeSiteNews, a conservative Catholic website that often criticises the Pope, described his refusal to let his ring be kissed as “disturbing”.
Rorate Caeli, a website read by Catholic traditionalists, tweeted: “Francis, if you don’t want to be the Vicar of Christ, then get out of there!”
It is claimed the clip did not show the full picture of what happened, as he apparently did initially allow the faithful to kiss the ring, which bears a silver cross.
Pope Francis is said to have only begun withdrawing his hand after having greeted many people.
Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, a supporter of Pope Francis, countered by tweeting: “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.
Some Vatican watchers claim that even Pope Benedict, a hero to nostalgic conservatives, and his predecessor John Paul did not like having their hands kissed – at least not by long lines of people.
A close aide to the Pope said the pontiff was “amused” by all the reaction and revealed – only on the condition of anonymity – that: “Sometimes he likes it, sometimes he does not. It’s really as simple as that.”
On Wednesday, he returned to the tradition as he allowed Sister Maria Concetta Esu to sweetly kiss his hand at the Vatican.