The Pope has come under fire for losing his patience with a pilgrim on New Year's Eve. In an address delivered on New Year's Day, he apologized profusely.
As is tradition, Pope Francis rang in the New Year greeting pilgrims at the Vatican. However, this particular New Year's Eve, he seemed to have lost his cool when a woman clung on to his hand and refused to let go. Instead of calmly taking his hand away from her, he chose to smack her hand to free himself from her grip. The move has been deeply criticized, prompting the Pope to make an official apology during his address on Wednesday morning, The Guardian reports. In his apology, he condemned all violence against women and atoned for his decision, claiming he simply lost his patience.
Pope Francis smacks woman's hand to free himself from her grip https://t.co/8nNYWBtJay pic.twitter.com/swzMEvAzXH— CNN (@CNN) January 1, 2020
The incident occurred during a visit to the nativity scene set up at the Vatican. As the Pope greeted pilgrims on New Year's Eve, the unnamed woman abruptly grabbed his hand and pulled him towards her just as he reached out to greet a child. The woman refused to let go, holding on to his hand tightly. Then, in a move that seemed to cause him great pain, Pope Francis reached out to slap her hand to set himself free from her grip. While it was evident that the woman should not have crossed boundaries like that, the Pope has received some backlash for his actions. In response to a video that went viral on Twitter, one user wrote, "What the Pope did demonstrates one thing – he’s a man."
Therefore, he discussed the incident in his address to a large audience at St. Peter’s Square on the morning of New Year’s Day. Sincerely remorseful, he stated, "Love makes us patient. So many times we lose patience, even me, and I apologize for yesterday's bad example." He took the apology a step further, choosing to condemn all forms of violence against women and expounding upon the importance of gender equality. "Women are sources of life," Pope Francis affirmed. "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 Pope added that women "should be fully included in decision-making processes," adding, "Every step forward for women, is a step forward for humanity as a whole."
This is not the first time that the Pope has broken the traditional protocol expected of him. In the past, he has yanked his hand away from being kissed by a long queue of people who came up to him while greeting pilgrims. This is part of a tradition that involves kissing the Pope's papal ring. After a video of the incident went viral, the Vatican claimed that Pope Francis did not wish to "spread germs." However, it has been suggested that the Pope is rather uneasy or reluctant when it comes to performing certain traditions that have lost their meaning in this modern-day and age. While the most recent incident may not be forgotten any time soon, it is heartening to see a Pope come forward to own his mistakes and duly apologize for them.