Pope Francis tells enthusiastic worshipper: ‘I’ll give you a kiss but stay calm’
Angela Giuffrida in Rome – The Guardian
Pope Francis made the joke as he arrived for the general audience at the Vatican. Photograph: Vatican Media/Reuters
Pope Francis jokingly told a woman not to bite him as he greeted pilgrims before his weekly general audience.
It was the pontiff’s first walkabout among worshippers after he angrily slapped the hand of a woman in response to her abruptly grabbing his arm on New Year’s Eve.
As Francis saluted pilgrims inside the papal audience hall in Vatican City on Wednesday, a nun stretched out her arms as she tried to attract his attention. He said in response: “I’m afraid! You bite! I’ll give you a kiss but stay calm, don’t bite!”
The pope apologised for his “bad example” after a video of last week’s slapping incident went viral, admitting he sometimes loses his patience.
Francis lost his cool when the woman tugged his arm and yanked him towards her just after he reached out to greet a child during a visit to the Vatican’s nativity scene.
The woman would not let go and in a gesture that appeared to cause him pain, he slapped at her hand before pulling his hand free. The incident prompted indignation on social media, but also words of support for the pontiff.
Francis used his New Year’s Day address to condemn violence against women. “Every form of violence inflicted upon a woman is a blasphemy against God, who was born of a woman,” he said.