Pope Francis made news around the world as 2020 began, but not perhaps in the way he might have wanted.
And after widespread backlash, the pontiff has now apologized.
On New Year’s Eve, the pope was walking around a giant nativity scene at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, shaking hands and imparting blessings to those who had come to the Vatican.
Then came an unplanned bit of byplay that was recorded on video and which went viral on social media.
One woman who had been straining against the barrier designed to keep pilgrims back from the pope reached out her hands as far as she could and grabbed hold of Pope Francis’s right hand.
Not content with just touching the pope, she began to pull on his arm and reel him in as she spoke to him.
Whether from pain or irritation, the 83-year-old pope brought up his left hand and gave the woman’s hand a good slap, forcing her to release his right hand.
The pope, then clearly grumpy over the incident, turned away from the visitors and stalked away.
The incident provoked commentary on Twitter:
Oh sure, I can see Jesus doing that. NOT!
— Pamela Roth (@rothfarms) December 31, 2019
Wonder if there is anything in Roman Catholic church law that allows the College of Cardinals to RECALL Francis and find someone more worthy. Can’t imagine Jesus slapping one of his followers. Read Luke 8:43-48https://t.co/r7R9GqG0Pn
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) January 2, 2020
People are defending his reaction, saying he’s old, the woman was too aggressive, etc. Somehow I can’t see Benedict or JP II reacting this violently to a pilgrim.
— KamieKat (@CeeKamie) December 31, 2019
“So many times we lose patience. Me, too,” he said, departing from his prepared script.
“I say ‘excuse me’ for the bad example.”
Much of the pope’s New Year’s message focused on women.
“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,” he said.
“Every form of violence inflicted upon a woman is a blasphemy against God, who was born of a woman,” the pope added, as CNN reported.
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