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To err is human…even for the Pope

(CNS photo/Vatican Media) See POPE-ANGELUS-PEACE Jan. 1, 2020.

It was aired repeatedly on several news channels. Breaking news: Pope Francis slaps the hand of a woman!

The clips showed the Holy Father walking along the road and the visitors behind the barriers at St Peter’s Square waving and trying to touch him. He touched those he could, when this over-enthusiastic female, not wanting to be ignored, held on to his hand tightly, almost desperately, tugging him towards her.

Pope Francis became visibly upset, stumbled, tried to pull his hand away and eventually had to slap the hand holding him for her to let go. It went viral; some posts were in condemnation, others in support of his action.

Viewing Vatican News, I listened to the reporter’s comments on the incident and then she informed viewers of an incident which occurred just before the slapping-of-the-hand incident.

The clip showed a little boy, perched atop one of the barriers, reaching out to get his handshake from the Holy Father, over-balancing and falling to the ground. A very concerned pontiff reached out and assisted the child to his feet, tenderly rubbed his head, kissed it, then handed the child a rosary.

The reporter commented on the fact that this clip did not go viral, though both showed the humanness of the Pope; the one showing the slap was the one in focus.

I thought of life. As we live, daily we see, we hear, we do. There are times when we falter in all these areas, incurring the wrath and displeasure of others. Yes, when we foul up, we must be prepared to stand the consequences of our actions and choices. But the problem arises when only the negative is focused on. In many cases, the negatives are sometimes one event happenings.

The negative event/s, however, take precedence over all else following the perpetrators around like dark clouds over their heads. As I noted before, we suffer from the ‘remember when’ syndrome and because of this, many persons prefer to stay back rather than come forward where their skills and talents could assist in building Church and community, enriching lives, supporting projects and so much more.

Pope Francis is human. As I viewed the footage of his public apology, I noted that he referred to himself as a sinner, regretted his impatience, and acknowledged that he did not set a good example. In my opinion there is a ‘but’. While physical violence is not to be tolerated, the circumstances under which the incident occurred must be taken into consideration.

Yes, we all need to be living witnesses of God’s mercy and love, but at times, the humanness in us surfaces and our reaction may not be the best one, but we must consider the circumstances. Remember the incident of Christ Jesus and the money changers in the temple?

Incidents like these however, serve to remind us that as witnesses, we need to expect the unexpected and so pray for the grace to be wise, understanding, patient and forgiving, since if we are the ones who have faulted, we would want those considerations to be extended to us.

I listened to and viewed the many anti-Catholic sentiments expressed as a result of this incident. I intend to use it as a motivator to encourage others and will continue to sing, “Strengthen our faith Redeemer, guard us when danger is nigh…”