I have a problem with the assertion that Pope Francis ‘lost his temper’ with one of his fans during his trip to Mexico.
There is a piece of footage doing the rounds – showing His Holiness being pulled so violently by someone (we don’t know if it was a man or woman) that he lurched forward and fell onto a child in a wheelchair.
The quick action of aides and security men prevented the Pope from falling to the ground and may have saved him from being injured. Thank God the Vicar of Christ was not dashed to the floor where he may have been badly bruised! The Pope’s Guardian Angel was on active duty.
Saying the Pope ‘lost his cool’ is not fair – His Holiness was in control of the situation. He may have lost his balance but his reaction was balanced, he promptly told the person who was manhandling him, “don’t be selfish”.
Speaking objectively, the person who grabbed him was acting in a self-centred fashion, trying to aggressively drag the Pope towards themselves, showing no concern for the child in the wheelchair. The Pope was left with no alternative but to tell the person off in a way that sent a message to other people who want to greet the Pope in public – if they think that they can yank him – he will call them ‘selfish’.
I think it is an act of deflection to say that the Pope embarrassed the person who caught hold of him and would not let go. The person embarrassed themselves and had they never put their hands on the Pope – the Pope would never have had to assert himself.
Perhaps it seems that I am going to great lengths to defend Pope Francis. My reason for doing so is that I’d like to ask my fellow Catholics and followers of Pope Francis from all religions not to let a moment like this define his papacy. This would be a crying shame. Most of us would have used more colourful language and may have shouted a lot louder.
I think it helps to keep in mind that the saints had bouts of anger. Padre Pio got angry with a woman in public – she was shouting at him – asking him to pray for her because her husband had left her. Losing patience with her public exhibition, Padre Pio told her the cold truth, that it had been her fault that her husband had left her.
This episode shows that even the most saintliest of saints have experienced times of anger and have been driven to tell people off.