Update: Pope Francis and the woman have met after the event, and everything turned out well. More here …
On New Year’s Eve, Pope Francis was greeting people who were behind a barricade. As he was turning away, a woman grabbed his hand and pulled, nearly pulling him over. He tried to pull his hand away, clearly in pain, and she refused to let it go. He was trapped in her grasp and could not get free. So he followed that up with a slap on her wrist. She finally loosened her grip (with the help of the security guy) and he was able to pull his hand away. Surrounding spectators looked at her in disgust.
What she shouted is still debated on the interweb. The claims that he called her a witch or a bitch in Spanish are really the wishes of the Anti Francis Crowd (AFC), and not supported by audio of the event.
Update: She shouted in Japanese, and she wanted to meet with Pope Francis privately.
Some have used this opportunity to bash the pope and call him a hypocrite and claim he is violent towards women. I think this should be treated as a mild but physical attack on the pope by an unstable woman, with justified self defense.
- Pope Francis is 83 years old and has significant back pain.
- The attacker looks like she’s in her 30s or 40s, apparently fit and much stronger than Pope Francis.
- The attacker is strong enough to pull him so hard that he stumbles towards her to remain upright.
- She would not let go.
- He could not get free.
Violence against women this is not. Self defense against an attacker of irrelevant sex or gender is what took place here.
This is not violence against women. This is violence against the elderly, if it is at all violence against some or other category of person.
I consider it to be acceptable self defense to slap her hand. She could have pulled him over. She grabbed onto him and he could not get free. She assaulted the liberty and safety of a frail man by grabbing him and holding on. He was trying to regain his freedom by pulling away.
So why apologise?
After the event he would have realised it was (possibly) harmlessly intended.
In hindsight, it may have been better solved by going closer and blessing her. That paints a nicer, more loving picture.
So, in retrospect, it was a regretful reaction, because (probably) no harm would have come to him, apart from the pain she caused. She and the world would have been better off had he not defended himself and let her rein him in. Hence the apology.
However, the safety of doing so was not something that could have been predicted at the time. Without the benefit of hindsight or preparation, doing so would not be rational or safe. The right thing to do in such a situation is what he did. I would support him slapping anyone’s hand who did that again, if it meant defending himself from unwarranted forceful grabbing hands. A better thing would have been for the security to have intervened faster and more effectively. I am sad that the pope’s guards didn’t grab her and get in between them to protect him faster.
Has SHE apologised yet? We won’t be told.
Pray for Pope Francis to recover from his scare.
Pray for her for inner healing, that she doesn’t do this to others in future. She probably didn’t mean to harm him, and was just over-excited. We should give her the benefit of the doubt too. Not that it makes it okay. She needs a reprimand.
Message to the aggressive woman:
Your behaviour was disgusting and selfish. You lack respect. You put the safety of Pope Francis at risk just so you could touch him and talk to him. I hope you were taken away and formally reprimanded for your actions. I hope you come to your senses and realise how childishly you behaved.
Message to Catholics attacking Pope Francis:
You are hypocrites who are just using the #popeslap event to expand your public hatred of Pope Francis. Haters will hate. Your behaviour is equally disgusting. The Church needs to be purged of hypocrites, non-violently, but in all other ways like Jesus purged them from the Temple. Find your own church, elect your own pope, invent your own magisterium.
Those who think it’s acceptable for a young woman to grab an elderly man, pull him forcefully around, and refuse to let go: you belong to the violence culture the Church and the world can do without. Please go and live on another planet.
What would the reaction have been if it were Queen Elizabeth II who had been grabbed by someone in the crowd and could not get free?
Remember the time Pope Benedict was knocked over at Christmas in 2009?
Pope begins New Year with an Apology, Prayers for Peace – Southern Cross
Pope Francis’ Slap & Loss of Temper (Close Examination) – Dave Armstrong
On yanking and slapping hands – Where Peter Is