‘Don’t bite!’ Pope negotiates papal kiss after hand-slapping controversy

Pope Francis has cautiously waded back into the crowds after footage of him slapping away the hand of an overly enthusiastic pilgrim went viral and sparked a papal apology.

Francis gingerly agreed to a nun’s request for a kiss on the cheek on Wednesday, but said he would only approach her if she did not bite.

The moment occurred as Francis entered the Vatican auditorium at the start of his weekly general audience.

Francis kept his distance when the sister first asked for a papal kiss, and then negotiated the terms: “I’ll give you a kiss, but keep calm. Don’t bite!”

The exchange came amid a flurry of activity as the Pope greeted crowds in the Vatican auditorium. Credit: AP

The Pope seemed to be clearing up expected etiquette after an incident in St Peter's Square on New Year's Eve saw him dragged back by a woman eager to hold his hand.

It is not the first time the Pope has reprimanded worshippers for their heavy-handedness.

In March 2019 bizarre footage was released which showed a line of worshippers all diving to kiss his hand.