Pope Francis on How to Hug

Amidst the recent kerfuffle about the Vatican trying to restrict too much friendliness at the Exchange of Peace, Pope Francis has made it clear that he advocates more hugging – outside the liturgy, at least.


This morning Pope Francis celebrated Mass with some young Jesuits at St. Martha’s guesthouse. The occasion was the first memorial celebration of the Jesuit St. Peter Faber, whom Pope Francis canonized last year.


After Mass a young Italian Jesuit told Vatican Radio (my loose translation, with a bit of help from Xavier Rindfleisch and some confratelli):


It was really great. It was a touching moment, an extremely sober and simple celebration, without great ceremony. Personally, at the end, when I said goodbye to him, I asked him if I might embrace him, and then he pulled me strongly to himself and said to me, “Now that’s how real men hug.” Then he showed me how, instead, he had been taught to hug confreres [in religious life], with a clear distance. He said to me, “That’s not good. Your embrace pleased me more.”


Meanwhile, according to this morning’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Vatican congregation for religious life, sees a need for reform in the strict separation between men and women religious. This is not right, he said, because one does not acknowledge and incorporate the value of the other. He admonished religious orders to find ways for men and women, in harmony with church teaching, to “look each other in the eye.” He also called for an open engagement of religious with sexuality, in order to develop a normal relationship to their bodies while taking to heart traditional church values.




  1. “Your embrace pleased me more.”

    If this good-humoured vignette may be said to contain ‘key words’ these are my choice.

  2. From comments here about a more formal, “reverent”, and sober liturgy it may be possible to deduce their images of God. He is the stern looking Pantokrator looking down upon us from his heavenly throne. He is the Divine Judge who is making a list of our errant behaviors and checking it twice. In heaven he rules from a tall mountain far above those saved by the grace oh his Son. From below the throngs cry out Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts. Is it any wonder so few talk or think about what eye has not seen nor ears heard…..?

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