Angry Pope slaps hand of woman who refuses to let go

Pontiff, 83, appears annoyed at being grabbed by worshipper in Vatican City

Peter Stubley
Wednesday 01 January 2020 10:44 GMT
Angry Pope slaps away woman's hand as she tries to pull him in on New Year's Eve

Pope Francis has apologised for slapping a woman on the hand after she grabbed him while he greeted pilgrims in Rome on New Year’s Eve.

The pontiff appeared visibly annoyed when he was pulled towards a crowd of admirers in St Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

As the woman attempted to speak to him, he hit out at her hand in an attempt to free himself from her grip.

Video footage of the incident did not reveal what the pair said to each other during the encounter.

He later referred to his “loss of patience” while holding public prayers on New Year’s Day. “I ask you for forgiveness for my bad example of yesterday,” he said.

The 83-year-old Pope had been walking through the square to visit a large nativity display.

He paused to touch the hands of several small children in the crowd gathered behind a barrier.

The woman made the sign of the cross as the Pope approached, while others in the crowd reached out to touch his hand.

But as the Pope turned to walk away she reached out to grab his right hand to pull him towards her.

Pope Francis appeared to grimace in pain and tried to pull away before swatting her hands twice with his left hand.

He then walked away as his security team intervened.

Pope Francis later issued a message of peace as he celebrated a holy mass in the Papal Chapel on New Year’s Day.

“We need to pursue a genuine fraternity based on our common origin from God and exercised in dialogue and mutual trust,” he said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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