Pope Francis on Wednesday apologised for the manner he reacted when a woman grabbed his hand to greet him at an event on New Year’s Eve.

The video of the pontiff slapping the woman’s hand in order to free his own hand from the clutches of the admirer drew widespread reaction on social media.

The pope admitted his action was not consistent with his long-held position that women should never be abused in any form and subsequently apologised.

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“We lose patience many times,” he said during the New Year’s Day Mass at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. “It happens to me too. I apologise for the bad example given yesterday.”

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The pope had greeted a row of children outside the square on Tuesday evening. But as he was turning away, a woman screamed inaudibles behind the barrier and yanked his hand, nearly causing the Pontiff to fall.

The papal was, however, apprehensive by the action, becoming visibly angry before breaking free by slapping the woman’s hand. The woman did not appear offended by the action, but the pope apologised the next day as images of the event from spread online.

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Still, Twitter reactions were largely kind to the pope, with many saying he was only human and had to act on instinct.

Woke people really want to cancel the Pope because he smacked the hand of a woman who was hurting him away. They’ve started adding “female” and “POC” to the conversation to elicit the usual mob outrage. Shameful

— Edward Israel-Ayide (@wildeyeq) January 2, 2020

<—- don’t think there’s anything wrong with what they Pope did.

— Phoebe Waller-Bridge Fan Acct (@saratu) January 2, 2020

Later during the New Year’s Day Mass, Pope Francis praised women as “the source of life” and decried how they were often “offended, beaten, abused and forced into prostitution,”

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