The 83-year-old lost his balance and looked visibly angry. He responded by aggressively slapping her hands before turning and walking away angrily.
Pope Francis greeted pilgrims and well-wishers at the Vatican on Tuesday night, moving close to the nativity scene and warmly wishing his visitors a Happy New Year. In the commotion, one woman who wanted to touch the Pope took his hand and held it. While he isn't often vocal about inappropriate touching, it was awkward to see him smacking her hand to free his own.
The Pope giving lessons for 2020. Be kind, be generous. But PROTECT YOUR BOUNDARIES!!! pic.twitter.com/j0Ek17X7iZ— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) January 1, 2020
The incident went viral as the video clip began to circulate all over the internet. The woman can be seen grabbing his hand in an attempt to pull him closer to where she was standing, behind the barricades, as the pontiff was interacting and waving to the large crowd of people gathered. He was shaking hands with a few here and there, mind you, but appeared to move away from them just as the woman reached out to him and held his hand, not before smacking hers away though.
hey i just slapped you— I realize this is a joke but (@InternetHippo) January 1, 2020
and this is crazy
but i'm pope francis
dont touch me baby
It was quite astounding to see the 83-year-old Bishop of Rome striking someone in a moment of frustration like this. He clearly lost his balance and did indeed look visibly irate.
Just after that, he walked away mildly fuming as a bodyguard stepped in to hold the woman back and separate her from the pope. She appears as though she mumbled something at the pope, but it's unclear as to what she said.
Hey, atheist here for whatever that's worth. But someone as famous as the Pope has absolutely nothing to apologize for. His reaction was fairly tame, given that the woman could have literally been an assassin. If all she got was a slap on the hand, she got off extremely easy.— John Shepard (@RiotDragonX) January 1, 2020
Jesus: Turn the other cheek— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) January 1, 2020
Francis: Pope Slap!
Later, the pope apologized for his actions, of reacting strongly and smacking her hand. “We often lose patience. So do I. And I apologize for yesterday’s bad example,” said Pope Francis, according to CNN, while also incorporating violence against women in his New Year's Eve message.
"WHY ARE YOU DEFENDING THE POPE SLAPPING SOMEONE" is not the fight I anticipated having first thing in 2020 but here we are— Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti) January 1, 2020
"If we want to weave humanity into this our time, we need to start again from the woman," said the pontiff. "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. 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,” said the Pope.
"We often lose patience. So do I."— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) January 1, 2020
Pope Francis apologized for slapping the hand of a woman who had yanked his arm pic.twitter.com/nB6iNQG4KO
"Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life," says the Catholic Church that did away with pontifical secrecy only last year, a rule that protected child sexual abusers within the Church.
“Certain jurisdictions would have easily quoted the pontifical secret … to say that they could not and that they were not, authorized to share information with either state authorities or the victims,” said Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, according to a report by The Guardian. “Now that impediment, we might call it that way, has been lifted, and the pontifical secret is no more an excuse.”