Pope Francis expressed his sincere apology after slapping a woman's hand while greeting a group of devotees at the Vatican City's Nativity scene on New Year's Eve.
During the traditional New Year Mass, the 83-year-old pontiff told the thousands of pilgrims at St. Peter's Square how sorry he is for setting a bad example on the slapping incident.
"So many times, we lose patience, even me, and I apologize for yesterday's bad example," the Pope said during his first homily for the year 2020.
The pontiff's apology came after his homily denouncing violence against women, saying laying hands on women is similar to mocking God.
"Many times, women's bodies are sacrificed on the profane altar of advertisements, of profit, of pornography. (Women) are continually offended, beaten, raped, forced into prostitution," Pope Francis said.
The Pope also hopes that women around the world would step up into leadership roles for the year 2020.
"If we want a better world, that is a house of peace and not a courtyard of war, may the dignity of every woman be at the heart of it. Women are givers and mediators of peace, and should be fully associated with decision-making processes," he added.
In the now-viral video, Pope Francis could be seen all smiles while greeting the crowd and extending handshakes to children while on his way to the Vatican's nativity scene on New Year's Eve. When he is about to walk away, a woman from the pack (whose identity has not been disclosed) wanting to get the Pope's attention suddenly grabs his right hand with her both hands and pulled him back, causing the latter to lose his balance for a moment.
An upset Pope Francis emerged and angrily slaps the hand of the woman to free himself. He then turns around and walks away from the crowd with a frown on his face.
This is not the first time that the papal handshake has gone wrong and was caught on camera. In March 2019, the Pope was also filmed while constantly withdrawing his hands from people in line who wishes to kiss his ring.
The Vatican's chief spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said that the Pope's refusal for his ring to be kissed is only "a simple question of hygiene."
Later that month, while onboard on the place going to Morocco, NBC News reporter Claudio Lavanga humorously pulled his hand away as he was about to shake hands with the Pope, reminding him of the viral video withdrawing hands from devotees.
This prompted the Roman Catholic leader to explain why he refuses people to kiss the papal ring. He said that he was only avoiding to spread germs and contagious diseases among the devotees.
"You know what, at some point, my hand was all wet (due to the hand-kissing). There is a risk of contagion; it's for the hygiene," the Pope said.
"If it's only from a few people, there is no problem, but if the hands get wet, it's a contagion," he added.