Pope Francis: Sorry I lost patience with hand-shaker who yanked me

Pope Francis blesses the crowd from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking Saint Peter's Square during the New Year Angelus prayer in the Vatican on January 1, 2020. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has apologized for hitting the hand of a well-wisher who grabbed him and yanked him toward her.

In his new year’s wishes to the public in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, Francis confessed to losing his patience with the woman while he was strolling in the square Tuesday night to admire the Vatican’s Nativity scene.

Cameras captured the scene when the woman, from behind a barrier, reached out and grabbed the pope’s hand, pulling him violently toward her. Francis reacted sharply, exclaimed something and then slapped her hand so she would let him go. Frowning in anger, he turned and strode away.

In his impromptu remarks Wednesday, Francis said “so many times we lose patience. Me, too.” He then added “I say ‘excuse me’ for the bad example” he gave in the incident Tuesday.

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