Pope Francis apologized Wednesday for losing his patience and slapping a woman who grabbed him aggressively to get his attention as he greeted pilgrims around the Vatican’s giant Nativity scene after a New Year’s Eve liturgy.
“So many times we lose patience, even me, and I apologize for yesterday’s bad example,” the pope told thousands of pilgrims in unscripted comments made in St. Peter’s Square at the end of the traditional New Year mass, Reuters reported.
One video of the pope slapping the unidentified woman’s hand to free himself has already amassed more than 4.5 million views on Twitter.
In the 29-second clip, the pontiff is seen shaking the hands of several young children while the woman who made the sign of the cross waited patiently for the opportunity for a handshake from the pontiff.
The pope appeared to be ending his greeting session without acknowledging the woman when she grabbed his hand and yanked him toward her while saying something to him. Francis quickly slapped at her twice, connecting once to free his hand before turning away with a disgruntled look.
In his remarks on New Year’s Day, the pope celebrated the role of women in saving the world before apologizing for slapping his admirer.
“On the first day of the year, we celebrate this nuptial union between God and mankind, inaugurated in the womb of a woman. In God, there will forever be our humanity and Mary will forever be the Mother of God. She is both woman and mother: this is what is essential.
"From her, a woman, salvation came forth and thus there is no salvation without a woman. In her, God was united to us, and if we want to unite ourselves to Him, we must take the same path: through Mary, woman and mother. That is why we begin the year by celebrating Our Lady, the woman who wove the humanity of God. If we want to weave humanity into this our time, we need to start again from the woman,” Francis said before denouncing violence against women.
“The rebirth of humanity began from a woman. 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. Every form of violence inflicted upon a woman is a blasphemy against God, who was born of a woman,” he said.
“Humanity’s salvation came forth from the body of a woman: we can understand our degree of humanity by how we treat a woman’s body. How often are women’s bodies sacrificed on the profane altars of advertising, of profiteering, of pornography, exploited like a canvas to be used? Yet women’s bodies must be freed from consumerism; they must be respected and honored. Theirs is the most noble flesh in the world, for it conceived and brought to light the love that has saved us!” he added.