Pope Francis has apologized for hitting the hand of a well-wisher who grabbed him and yanked him towards her.
In his new year wishes to the public in St Peter’s Square, Francis confessed to losing his patience with the woman while he was walking in the square on Tuesday night to admire the Vatican’s Nativity scene.
Cameras captured the scene when the unidentified woman, from behind a barrier, reached out and grabbed the pope’s hand, pulling him violently towards her.
Francis, 83, reacted sharply, exclaimed something and then slapped her hand so she would let him go.
Frowning in anger, he turned and strode away.
In his impromptu remarks on Wednesday, Francis said, “So many times we lose patience, even me, and I apologize for yesterday’s bad example.”
His unusual apology came after he used his first homily of the new year to denounce violence against women, which he compared to profaning God.
New year’s sermon
“How often is a woman’s body sacrificed on the profane altar of advertising, profit, pornography,” he said, adding that the female body “must be freed from consumerism; it must be respected and honoured.”
Despite creating life, women “are continually offended, beaten, raped, forced into prostitution” and made to have abortions, he said. “We can understand our level of humanity by the way we treat a woman’s body,” he told the congregation.
The leader of the Roman Catholic Church, which allows only unmarried men to be ordained as priests, also said women “must be fully involved in decision-making processes.”
The pope said in April that the church had to acknowledge a history of male domination and sexual abuse of women. A month later, he appointed for the first time four women to an important Vatican department that prepares the major meetings of world bishops.
With files from Reuters