A video that went viral on Twitter showed an unidentified woman abruptly grabbing Francis’ hand from behind a barrier and yanking him towards her just after he reached out to greet a child during a visit to the Vatican’s nativity scene on Tuesday night.
It seemed like the woman would not release Francis’ hand, so the pontiff slapped her hand before pulling his free. Frowning in anger, he turned and strode away.
In his address on Wednesday morning in a packed St. Peter’s Square, the pontiff confessed to losing his patience with the woman.
“So many times we lose patience. Me, too,” said in his impromptu remarks. “I say ‘excuse me’ for the bad example.”
The video sparked indignation from Twitter users, with one person writing: “Not what Jesus would have done.”
This is not the first time Francis has yanked his hand away from pilgrims. Last year, he repeatedly pulled his hand away from being kissed by a long queue of people.
Days after a clip went viral, the Vatican said the pontiff had been worried about spreading germs. However, it prompted accusations of being disrespectful to tradition.
Fox News' Elizabeth Llorente and the Associated Press contributed to this report.