Pope Francis on Wednesday apologised for having “lost patience” with a congregant who grabbed his hand during a meeting in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
“So many times we lose patience. It happens to me too. I apologise for the bad example given yesterday,” said the head of the Catholic Church, from a window of the Apostolic Palace in Saint Peter’s Square.
After having kissed the many children massed in front of the Christmas crib on St. Peter’s square, and while he was about to set off in another direction, the hand of the old pontiff was caught by a woman who pulled him back towards her, almost causing him to topple over in the process.
Exasperated by the woman’s over eager manner, the leader of the Catholic Church, slaps her brusquely on the hand to free himself from her grip. The pope, who is 83 years old and has difficulty walking, then continued his tour of the manger by maintaining a little more distance with the enthusiastic faithful.
In his address on Wednesday morning, the pope also condemned violence against women. He said: “By how we treat a woman’s body, we can understand our level of humanity.”
In another clip that went viral in 2019, Pope Francis repeatedly yanked his hand away from being kissed as a long queue of people came up to him. The waiting pilgrims had been attempting to kiss his papal ring as part of a tradition, practised by more conservative Catholics, to show respect to the pontiff. A few days after the incident, the Vatican said Francis had been worried about spreading germs.