Pope Francis apologised on Wednesday for slapping a woman who had grabbed him as he greeted a crowd of devotees, shortly before he delivered a speech denouncing “every form of violence against women.”
The image of a visibly annoyed Francis slapping his way free from the clutches of an admirer as he walked by Catholic faithful on New Year’s Eve instantly went viral on social media.
A personal apology followed.
“We lose patience many times,” Francis confessed.
“It happens to me too. I apologise for the bad example given yesterday,” the head of the Catholic church said before celebrating Mass at the Vatican.
Twitter enthusiasts commented on the pontiff’s prompt riposte to the exuberant woman.
Francis had greeted children before the Nativity scene on Saint Peter’s square and was turning away when a woman who had crossed herself then cried out something, yanked his hand and almost caused him to fall.
The 83-year-old pope grimaced and scowled before managing to break free, slapping her hand twice as a security guard intervened.