The video of Pope Francis slapping away the hand of a worshiper who grabbed him became viral on New Year's Eve. During his New Year speech at the Vatican, the Pope apologised for his behaviour. After his apology, the Pope delivered his speech, which ironically decried violence against women.
The Pope had a highly relatable moment of irritation when a worshiper grabbed him and pulled him towards her. On his way to the Nativity Scene, the Pope had been greeting visitors at St. Peter's Square. He had been shaking hands with the crowd while his guards stood near him. A short clip captured the Pope letting go of a hand from the crowd and walking away.
However, when the Pope tried to walk away, a woman close to the security barrier grabbed the Pontiff's right arm. She forcefully pulled him towards her, while seemingly saying something to him. Upon being grabbed and dragged, the Pope had a very "human" reaction.
In the video, it was evident that the Pope was unhappy at the woman's use of force. As soon as the woman grabbed the Pope, it could be seen in his facial expression that the action hurt him enough for him to react as he did. Security personnel shadowing the Pope tried to free him from the woman's grasp. The Pope reacted instinctively and smacked the woman's hand away while the security personnel secured the woman's arms.
Twitter had mixed reactions to the incident. While some asked "what would Jesus do?," others supported the Pope's reaction.
After his harsh reaction, the Pope did not shy away from apologising for his actions. On the New Year's Day Mass marking the 53rd World Day of Peace in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, the Pope gave his speech denouncing violence against women. However, before he shared his poignant message, he addressed his outburst against the woman who grabbed him.
The Pontiff admitted that everyone including himself has moments where there is a shortage of patience. He admitted that he set a bad example with his actions and apologised for it. He then spoke about the necessity to end violence against women. As CNN summarised, the Pope spoke of gender equality and the inclusion of women in decision making. He preached that "women are givers and mediators of peace" and "every step forward for women is a step forward for humanity as a whole."