Pope Francis on Wednesday apologised after a video of him slapping away a woman’s hand at the Vatican went viral.
The woman was among pilgrims greeting the pope on New Year’s Eve while he was on his way to the Nativity scene, CNN reported. She had reached out to hold Francis’ hand and did not let go, yanking his arm. A visibly miffed Francis then smacked the woman’s hand to free himself even as his bodyguards intervened, according to BBC. Footage also appeared to show Francis shouting at the woman.
Hours later, before starting his New Year’s speech, the pope said he was sorry for smacking the woman’s hand. “We often lose patience,” he added. “So do I. I apologise for the poor example yesterday.”
In his speech, Francis denounced violence against women. “Women are sources of life,” he told the faithful who gathered at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. “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.” The pontiff also spoke about gender equality, and told worshippers that women “should be fully included in decision-making processes”. “Every step forward for women, is a step forward for humanity as a whole,” he added.