- (Photo: Reuters)
Pope Francis bowed before Queen Rania of Jordon, who was visiting the Vatican with her husband, King Abdullah II, breaking once again with protocol that requires visitors to bow to him when they see him at the Holy See.
"Up until the 19th century visitors would kiss the pope's shoes, and the tradition is still that all visitors, women included, bow to him, but Francis behaves as he did before he became pope and is not interested in protocol," U.K.'s The Daily Telegraph quoted a senior Vatican official as saying.
The leader of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide bowed to Queen Rania, who has been vocal about the importance of cross cultural and interfaith dialogue, on Thursday. Francis apparently did not bow toward her husband, the king, Daily Mail noted.
Pope Francis has shown he cares little about tradition or protocol.
A few months ago, he caused a ripple through the Catholic faithful by washing the feet of a woman – a Serbian Muslim inmate at a prison in Rome – a day before Good Friday.
At the end of the month-long Ramadan fast of Muslims, Francis personally wrote a message to Muslims, urging their leaders to promote mutual respect. "This year, the first of my Pontificate, I have decided to sign this traditional message myself and to send it to you, dear friends, as an expression of esteem and friendship for all Muslims, especially those who are religious leaders," the pope wrote in the letter, addressed to "Muslims throughout the World."
While such greetings are normally sent by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Francis chose to send the message personally.
The pope, who is also head of state at the Vatican, is known for being informal and humble.
In March, the pontiff reportedly kissed Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. "Never in my life has a pope kissed me!" she told the media after she became the first foreign head of state to meet with the new pope.
In July, Brazil's first female president, Dilma Vana Rousseff kissed the pope on both cheeks during his visit to that country.
The pope has said he wants to reform the Catholic Church and bring it back to its original mission.
Soon after his election in March, the pope appointed a group of eight cardinals to help him bring changes in the Church's administration, which has been plagued with scandals especially during the eight-year reign of Pope Benedict.
Francis has told the cardinals that the Church must not become just another charitable group without its divine mission, urging they must stick to the faith's Gospel roots and shun modern temptations. When he addressed the media for the first time, the pope reminded Catholics that Jesus, not the pope, is at the center of the Church, which he said should be "poor, and for the poor."
After his election, the pope took the name of Francis, the most severe critic of the papacy before Martin Luther.