Noted social commentator Gerard Henderson of the Sydney Institute has backed Pope Francis after a recent incident that provoked criticism of the Pontiff by some Roman Catholic traditionalists.
Last week a video of the Pope repeatedly withdrawing his hand from a line of people greeting him as they bent to kiss his ring went viral on the internet and he later explained he was concerned at the possibility of germs being spread when large numbers of people kissed his ring at public events.
Mr Henderson (pictured left but still right) told The Bug he understood the Pope’s concern.
“I have seen something similar right here in Australia,” he said. “It was at a boardroom lunch at the Surry Hills headquarters of News Corp Australia a few years back.
“I’d been invited along with other News Corp columnists such as Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine. Tony Abbott was there as well.
“The guest of honour was the then Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, and as soon as he arrived there was a fair bit of pushing and shoving among other guests to be the first to bend down and kiss his ring.
“It was actually a bit unseemly and, truth be known, Tony Abbott was the worst. He made sure he was the first to kiss the Cardinal’s ring long and hard (main picture).
“I was keen to kiss George’s ring too, as I always have been, but I wasn’t prepared to shirtfront other guests as Tony did.
“So I held back and waited until last. Tony took forever and Andrew Bolt followed him and seemed to me to be running his tongue around the circumference of George’s ring. Rimming it I suppose you would call it, if there is such a term for such behaviour.
“Finally it was my turn but by then Cardinal Pell’s ring had been well and truly worked over and it was actually a rather unpleasant experience to put my mouth anywhere near it.
“So I perfectly understand the concerns Pope Francis has,” Mr Henderson said.