Pope Denounces Violence Against Women in New Year Speech, Apologies After Slapping Woman's Hand
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Rome [Italy], Jan 1 (ANI): Pope Francis on Wednesday urged the people to denounce violence against women in his New Year message, hours after slapping a woman's hand to free himself from her grip."Women are sources of life. Yet, they are continually insulted, beaten, raped, forced to prostitute themselves and to suppress the life they bear in the womb," the Pontiff told worshipers gathered at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican."Every form of violence inflicted upon a woman is a blasphemy against God, who was born of a woman," he was quoted as saying by CNN.Shortly before beginning his traditional New Year's Day address, the Pope apologised for smacking a woman's hand the previous day, to free himself from her grip."I apologise for the poor example yesterday," he said before beginning his sermon on violence against women.On Tuesday, the New Year's Eve, the Pope was making his way to the Nativity scene in Vatican City when a woman from the crowd grabbed his hand and yanked him towards her while the pontiff began to walk away from the crowd.The woman's gesture upset him so much that the Pope slapped her hand in an attempt to extricate himself. Footage of the altercation also appeared to show him shouting at the woman.Prior to the incident, the woman had made the sign of the cross. She addressed the 83-year-old pontiff as she took his hand but it is unclear what she was trying to tell him.During his New Year address on Wednesday, the Pope also spoke about gender equality, telling the congregation that women "should be fully included in decision-making processes.""Every step forward for women is a step forward for humanity as a whole," he said. (ANI)

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