An image of Pope Francis slapping his way free from the clutches of an admirer late Tuesday had social media abuzz with comments on the pontiff’s prompt riposte.
Francis had greeted children before the Nativity scene on Saint Peter’s plaza and was turning away when the woman cried out something, grabbed his hand and almost caused him to fall.
The 83-year-old head of the Catholic church grimaced before managing to break free by slapping the woman’s hand twice.
He then continued his tour, walking with some difficulty while maintaining a slightly greater distance from visitors, and gradually relaxed again as he came into contact with other children.
Comments on Twitter were mostly supportive of the pontiff’s instinctive reaction.
“HE IS HUMAN.. Been (sic) a Pope doesn’t make you immune to Pain or avoid Reaction to pain,” one typical comment read.
In his first Mass of the New Year, the pontiff nonetheless denounced Wednesday “all violence against women” as “a profanation of God, born of a woman,” a position underscored by several Twitter enthusiasts.
Another concluded that as 2020 dawned, “the pope is trending.”
Pope Francis confessed Wednesday he had “lost patience” with an exuberant admirer who had grabbed his hand on Saint Peter’s Square, prompting a swift pair of slaps.
“We lose patience many times. 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.