happy new year

The Pope Is Sorry for Slapping That Lady

Photo: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images

Ah, the first days of a new year — a time of excitement, hope, and possibility. What does 2020 have in store for us? Well, so far, in the opening hours of this decade, Pope Francis issued an apology for slapping away a woman’s hand. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.

In remarks on Wednesday, the pope apologized for the incident, which was caught on camera the night before. Francis was greeting visitors and worshipers around the Vatican’s giant nativity scene following his New Year’s Eve liturgy, when a woman in the crowd reached out, grabbed the 83-year-old pope’s left arm with her two hands, and yanked it toward her. Visibly upset, the pontiff pulled his arm away, admonished the woman, and slapped her hands twice before turning away, frowning.

“Many times we lose our patience,” Francis said in his address the next day. “I do, too, and I’m sorry for yesterday’s bad example.”

Online, many drew parallels with another recent hand-based papal controversy. Back in March 2019, the pope was criticized for pulling his hand away from pilgrims in the Italian town of Lareto who had lined up to kiss his ring. Later, a Vatican spokesperson said the withdrawal was merely an attempt to prevent the spreading of germs.

Here’s hoping that, going forward, 2020 sees more exemplary behavior from Pope Francis, like that time he blessed a really sick-looking Lamborghini. Amen.

The Pope Is Sorry for Slapping That Lady