Pope Francis lost his patience and slapped a woman on the hand after she grabbed him while he greeted gatherers at the Vatican.
A video that went viral on Twitter showed an unidentified woman abruptly grabbing Francis’ hand from behind a barrier and yanking him towards her just after he reached bent greet a toddler during a visit to the Vatican’s nativity scene on Tuesday night.
It appeared like the lady wouldn’t release Francis’ hand, therefore the pontiff slapped her hand before pulling his free. Frowning in anger, he turned and strode away.
In his address on Wednesday morning during a packed St. Peter’s Square, the pontiff confessed to losing his patience with the lady .
“So repeatedly we lose patience. Me, too,” said in his impromptu remarks. “I say ‘excuse me’ for the bad example.”
The video sparked indignation from Twitter users, with one person writing: “Not what Jesus would have done.”
The following day, the pontiff apologized for the interaction while giving his annual New Year well wishes to the public in St. Peter’s Square. “I say ‘excuse me’ for the bad example,” he said in unscripted remarks, adding that “so many times we lose patience. Me, too.”
The following day, Pope Francis spoke out against violence toward women during his New Year’s Day homily in St. Peter’s Basilica, equating it to profaning God, according to the Associated Press.
He noted that “many times women’s bodies are sacrificed on the profane altar of advertisements, of profit, of pornography,” and lamented that women are ”continually offended, beaten, raped, forced into prostitution” and forced to have abortions — a procedure the Catholic Church is against.
The Pope also said he hoped that in the new year women worldwide would take on more leadership roles.“If we want a better world, that is a house of peace and not a courtyard of war, may the dignity of every woman be at the heart of it. Women are givers and mediators of peace, and should be fully associated with decision-making processes.”
Women are not able to become priests in the Catholic Church. The pontiff did not say how roles for women might be specifically expanded in the church in the coming year.