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Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
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Irish bishop 'embarrassed' by kissing the Pope's ring

March 05, 2010

An Irish bishop has caused a stir by saying that he was uncomfortable kissing the Pope's ring when the Irish bishops met with the Pontiff in February. Bishop Bill Murphy of Kerry said he was "rather embarrassed" when other Irish bishops kissed the Pope's ring rather than shaking his hand, but he followed suit. The gesture, he said, is "out of touch with modern thinking."


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  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Mar. 09, 2010 10:45 PM ET USA

    That is one ring I would kiss!

  • Posted by: New Sister - Mar. 09, 2010 7:44 PM ET USA

    Maybe the problem is ego - the Bishops identifying the ring with the PERSON as opposed to the APOSTOLIC OFFICE. If Bishops understood the desire of Catholics to honor his Chair (as opposed to him personally) through this respectful gesture, perhaps they wouldn't be so uneasy with it. Imagine a military general being embarrassed by a soldier's salute...we would have an insubordinate, confused, & ineffective army. (like "AM Church" today)

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Mar. 06, 2010 11:45 PM ET USA

    Bishop Bill - no one forced you to be a bishop. The medieval pomp and ceremony goes with the job. Even a layperson knows this bit of homage is a sign of respect for the person who appointed you bishop.

  • Posted by: New Sister - Mar. 06, 2010 8:07 PM ET USA

    ...or we could bring back the practice of public scourging by monks. It might update *his* thinking!

  • Posted by: - Mar. 06, 2010 7:52 PM ET USA

    Just as well it wasn't his foot.

  • Posted by: MesaConsultant2395 - Mar. 06, 2010 3:48 PM ET USA

    I felt "embarrassed" for people who self-evidently don't want to be where they are. I wonder how his priests feel in having to show deference to a bishop that is apparently much in tune with "modern thinking." I didn't see any Swiss Guard standing over his shoulder, and I'm sure the Pope wouldn't tell. If the good Bishop wants to go, I'm sure the CofE would accept him with open arms. They are not burdened with such out-of-date non-sense. Of course, get going now, before they disappear.

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Mar. 05, 2010 9:19 PM ET USA

    Quite frankly, Bishop Murphy would be more comfortable in the Anglican Communion where the Archbishop of Canterbury doesn't require such fealty. I think he should paddle back across the Tiber, making sure he doesn't get in the way of Anglicans going in the other direction.

  • Posted by: Athelstan - Mar. 05, 2010 8:52 PM ET USA

    One should be glad to be "out of touch with modern thinking," since to be in touch with it can only lead to intellectual and spiritual pollution.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 05, 2010 7:39 PM ET USA

    He should have kept quiet if he had nothing positive to say!What bothers me is that he was embarrassed to openly show fidelity to the Pontiff by kissing the ring.As long as bishops who DO make this act of fidelity to the Successor of Peter are as faithful in the running of their dioceses,then this is a tradition that I am very happy to see continuing.As for it being "out of touch",I am in my 20's & support the continuation of the practice-it's all about what the ring REPRESENTS.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Mar. 05, 2010 6:55 PM ET USA

    "Out of touch with modern thinking"??? And your point is, Bishop? The Church goes its own way -- and should do so proudly. Nor is there anything to regret about that. The dark side of "modern thinking" has been truly appalling.

  • Posted by: New Sister - Mar. 05, 2010 6:53 PM ET USA

    Newly confirmed, I was eager to kiss my Bishop's ring - I WANTED to show my gratitude for & submission to his apostolic see, his authority. Unfortunately, my Bishop (Military Archdiocese) was the one who found this gesture embarrassing. He tugged his hand away to prevent me from doing so.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 05, 2010 6:50 PM ET USA

    Makes one wonder just what other elements of Catholic tradition are "Out of touch with modern thinking". But, then, how many other bishops have we witnessed in the "modern" Catholic Church who are all taken up with being "modern"?

  • Posted by: Defender - Mar. 05, 2010 5:46 PM ET USA

    We sure have lost a lot of our traditions, made worse by bishops who don't understand or appreciate the reasons why they are done.