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Why Catholics Kiss the Ring of Pope, Cardinals or Bishops

Why do Catholics Kiss the Ring of Pope, Cardinals, or Bishops.

Since the early days of the Catholic church, the faithful have always kneeled and kissed the ring of the Church authorities. This traditional courtesy reflects the beliefs that:

i. the Pope who is the apostolic successor of the Church instituted by Jesus on earth;

ii. the Cardinals who are Princes of the Church; and

iii. the Bishops who are the local Shepherds of the Church, appointed by the Pope himself,
are all priests through who Jesus Christ manifests Himself to lead His Church. By kneeling before these Christ chosen representatives and kissing their rings, (the symbol of authority), one acknowledges their appointments by Christ Himself and show respect to Jesus who dwells in them.

This symbolic gesture of respect toward authority is no different than when Americans rise when their President enter a room, or when the British rise when the Queen of England enters a room, or when those present rise when a Judge enters the Court Room, or when the Head of any State enters a room.




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Raphael Benedict

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  1. Additional info on this. It is recommended that we use the right knee to genuflect before a tabernacle that has the Holy Eucharist in it; and the left knee to kneel while kissing the ring of the pope, cardinal, or bishop. In a way it is to “reserve” the right knee specifically for God alone (the way we don’t use the chalice for anything else except for Christ’s blood.) Also, we don’t need to kiss every cardinal or bishop’s ring — just those whose diocese you belong to; after all it is a sign of loyalty.

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