Pope Francis apologises for slapping woman who grabbed him

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Apology came shortly before speech denouncing violence against women

Jan 1, 2020

January 1, 2020

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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 on New Year's Eve instantly went viral on social media.

"We lose patience many times," Francis confessed afterwards. "It happens to me, too. I apologise for the bad example given yesterday.

The head of the Catholic church then celebrated Mass at the Vatican.

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 Pope, 83, grimaced and scowled before breaking free, slapping her hand twice as a security guard intervened.

He continued his tour, walking with some difficulty while maintaining a slightly greater distance from visitors, and gradually relaxed again as he met other children.

In his first Mass of the new year, the pontiff later declared that: "Every form of violence against women is a blasphemy against God, who was born of a woman."

He then repeated "patience and love" in a comment that was not contained in the text of a speech distributed earlier and seemed to be his reaction to what had occurred the night before.

Francis emphasised on Wednesday that women were the "sources of life" and deplored that they were "continually insulted, beaten, raped and forced to prostitute themselves and to suppress the life they bear in the womb".

Updated: January 2, 2020 07:25 AM

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