Photo Credits: Flickr
Pope Francis was greeting children and pilgrims in St. Peter's Square on New Year's Eve. On his way to the Nativity scene in Vatican City, one woman abruptly grabbed his hand and yanked him towards her. The Pope became visibly upset and slapped her hand to free himself from her grip. After the incident occurred, Pope Francis apologized after some critics said it was inappropriate behavior for the Catholic leader.
The woman would not let go and in a gesture that appeared to cause him pain, he slapped at her hand before pulling his hand free. Prior to the incident, the woman had made the sign of the cross. She addressed the 83-year-old Pope as she took his hand but it is unclear what she was trying to tell him.
On Wednesday, the Pontiff apologized for losing patience with the worshiper before using his New Year's Day address to denounce violence against women: "Love makes us patient. So many times we lose patience, even me, and I apologize for yesterday's bad example," he said.
One Twitter user wrote: “What the pope did demonstrates one thing – he’s a man.”
CNN reports that Francis spoke about violence against women just hours after the viral incident.
Pope Francis used his New Year message to denounce violence against women only hours after slapping a woman’s hand to free himself from her grip.
“Women are sources of life. Yet they are continually insulted, beaten, raped, forced to prostitute themselves and to suppress the life they bear in the womb,” the Pontiff told worshipers gathered at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on Wednesday. “Every form of violence inflicted upon a woman is a blasphemy against God, who was born of a woman.”
The pope has been selective about his apologies when it comes to matters of abuse within the Church, but he was very fast to apologize for this incident. For instance, in 2015, Francis was criticized for supporting Chilean bishop Juan Barros, who was accused of covering up sex crimes committed against minors. It took him 3 years to acknowledge he had made "grave errors" in judgment about Barros, apologized to the victims and launched a Vatican investigation that resulted in the resignation of Barros and two other Chilean bishops.
There are certainly many things to be critical of the pope but his normal reaction to unwanted pulling by an unknown woman is completely justified.