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Alessandro Gisotti - © Vatican Media

Pope Has Told Alessandro Gisotti Why He Withdrew Hand Repeatedly From the Line Trying to Kiss His Ring

During Briefing for Pontiff’s March 30-31 Visit to Morocco, Vatican Spokesman Shares Francis’ Reasoning: ‘Hygiene’

“It was a simple question of hygiene…”

This was explained by Alessandro Gisotto, Director of the Holy See Press Office, who after receiving an avalanche of inquiries about the Pope withdrawing his hand repeatedly from a long queue of individuals who bowed and tried to kiss the ring on Monday, May 25, in the Italian town of Loreto on the Adriatic Sea, decided to ask the Pontiff himself his reasoning behind it.

Preventing the spread of germs, Pope Francis clarified to Gisotti, especially when there are so many people, arriving one right after the other, is the Pontiff’s goal. He noted how the Pope normally allows the kissing of the ring when we are speaking about single individuals or smaller groups.

Alessandro Gisotti added: “He likes to embrace people and be embraced by people.”

Vatican observers have noted that neither Francis’ predecessor Benedict or John Paul II, were not overly enthusiastic either about the kissing of the ring.

This explanation was what the Vatican spokesman used to lead into his briefing on the Pope’s imminent visit to Morocco, where Gisotti noted the first day will be focused on interreligious dialogue and the second to the local Catholic community, which makes up less than .1 percent of the population. He noted the Pope’s homily and Mass will be in Spanish.

The Vatican on February 26, 2019, released the updated program below for the Holy Father’s March 30-31, 2019 apostolic journey to Morocco.

***

Saturday 30 March 2019

ROME-RABAT

10.45 Departure by air from Rome-Fiumicino Airport for Rabat
14.00 Arrival at Rabat-Salé International Airport
OFFICIAL WELCOME
 14.30 WELCOME CEREMONY in the square in front of the Royal Palace
 14.50 COURTESY VISIT TO KING MOHAMMED VI in the Royal Palace
 15.30 MEETING with the MOROCCAN PEOPLE, the AUTHORITIES, with CIVIL SOCIETY and with the DIPLOMATIC CORPS on the Esplanade of the Mosquée Hassan II Address of the Holy Father
 16.30 VISIT TO THE MAUSOLEUM OF MOHAMMED V
 17.00 VISIT TO THE MOHAMMED VI INSTITUTE FOR THE TRAINING OF IMAMS, MORCHIDINES AND MORCHIDATES Greeting of the Holy Father
 18.00 MEETING WITH MIGRANTS at the premises of diocesan Caritas Greeting of the Holy Father
Sunday 31 March 2019

RABAT-ROME

 9.30 VISIT TO THE CENTRE RURAL DES SERVICES SOCIAUX of Témara
 10.35 MEETING WITH PRIESTS, RELIGIOUS, CONSECRATED PERSONS and the ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES in the Cathedral of Rabat Address of the Holy Father

Angelus of the Holy Father

 12.00 Lunch with the Papal Entourage
 14.45 HOLY MASS Homily of the Holy Father
 17.00 FAREWELL CEREMONY at Rabat-Salé International Airport
17:15 Departure by air for Rome
21:30 Arrival at Rome-Ciampino International Airport

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in four languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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