From Fox News:
In response, Pope Francis on Thursday sought to defend the move as being in the best interest of public health.
Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said Thursday that the pontiff pulled his hand away out of concern about spreading germs. Gisotti said Thursday he had just spoken to the pope about speculation on social media that he was disrespecting the ring-kissing tradition, and Francis replied that it was nothing of the sort. “The Holy Father told me that the motivation was very simple: hygiene,” Gisotti told reporters. “He wants to avoid the risk of contagion for the people, not for him.”