Pope Francis has apologized for hitting the hand of a well-wisher who grabbed him and yanked him toward her while he was taking a stroll in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City in Rome.
In his New Year’s Day wishes to the public in the square, Francis confessed to losing his patience with the woman Tuesday while trying to admire the Vatican’s Nativity scene.
Cameras captured the scene when the woman, from behind a barrier, reached out and grabbed the Pope’s hand, pulling him toward her. Francis 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 Wednesday, Francis said: “So many times we lose patience. Me, too.” He then added: “I say ‘excuse me’ for the bad example” he gave in Tuesday’s incident.
Pope focuses on women in Jan. 1 homily
In his New Year’s Day address in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis pinned much of his hopes for a more peaceful world in 2020 on women, saying violence against them is akin to profaning God and calling for them to be increasingly involved in making major decisions.
Francis decried the “many times women’s bodies are sacrificed on the profane altar of advertisements, of profit, of pornography.”
He also lamented that women are “continually offended, beaten, raped, forced into prostitution” or forced to have abortions, which are forbidden by the Catholic Church.
Francis didn’t mention if, under his watch, things might change in how women are treated by the church.
According to Vatican teaching, women can’t become priests, and some conservative elements of the church are scandalized by parishes that allow girls to be altar servers.
He contended if we want a better world in the new year, we should treat women with dignity. Francis urged that women become “fully associated” with decision-making to make the world more united and at peace.
“And if we want a better world, that is a house of peace and not a courtyard of war. May the dignity of every woman be at the heart of it,” Francis said. “Women are givers and mediators of peace, and should be fully associated with decision-making processes.”