Pope Francis agreed to a nun’s request for a kiss on the cheek a week after a video of him swatting away the hand of a woman on New Year’s Day went viral. He had just one request: “Don’t bite!”
On Wednesday, Francis cautiously approached the crowds behind the barricades as he entered the Vatican auditorium at the start of his weekly general audience.
While he normally would greet well-wishers, he appeared to keep his distance, until the nun made her request.
“I’ll give you a kiss, but keep calm,” he said. “Don’t bite!
Pope Francis salutes the faithful at the end of his weekly general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
After she agreed, Francis bent in to give her a peck on the cheek. The woman did a joyful dance as well-wishers in line cheered.
The contrast could not have been greater to the moment days earlier, when the pope was visibly upset after apilgrim aggressively grabbed his handand pulled him in, after which he slapped her away.
In his address the following day, thepontiff apologized.
“So many times we lose patience. Me, too,” he said in his impromptu remarks. “I say ‘excuse me’ for the bad example.”
Some complained Francis has a short temper but others noted the 83-year-old pope, who suffers from sciatica and walks with difficulty, could easily have been toppled over by the aggressive grab.
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.
The Vatican later said the pope was worried about spreading germs but many of his critics said he was disrespecting tradition.
Fox News’ Lucia Suarez Sang and the Associated Press contributed to this report.