Pope Francis has issued a statement of apology after being involved in yet another physical confrontation.
A few days ago the Pope was captured on video at the Vatican in Rome twice slapping the hand of a woman who had roughly grabbed him during a walkabout to meet pilgrims.
He was previously filmed quickly withdrawing his hand from those of pilgrims to prevent them from kissing his papal ring.
But senior Vatican insiders are most concerned about an incident in St Peter’s Basilica this morning during which Pope Francis kicked a toddler who had innocently wandered onto the papal stage during a New Year’s mass (pictured).
Video of the event circulating on social media shows the toddler struggling out of the arms of his mother who was seated in the front pew at the mass.
The unnamed girl then crawls quickly towards the Pope who reacts by leaping to his feet, taking a run up, and booting the baby approximately 15 metres into the audience.
“Luckily it was only by the grace of God that a professional soccer player happened to be sitting exactly where the child was going to land in the audience,” a senior Vatican insider said.
“That was an absolute miracle because the soccer player was able to head the baby about 10 metres towards the front of the audience where she was grabbed by an 84-year-old female tourist, preventing the child from landing on the church’s hard marble floor.”
Pope Francis later issued a statement saying he was apologetic and disappointed in his actions.
“I am very sorry because clearly I need to practise more,” the statement said.
“In my younger days in Argentina I was never much good at the kicking and in the years since I’ve become a little bit better, but not much.
“I apologise for not practising enough. I really should have sent that kid to the back of the church.
“I’m very disappointed in myself,” he said in the statement. “I thought I was infallible.”
Editor’s apology: In an earlier posting of this story, a sub-editor’s error caused the word “papal” to be omitted from the third paragraph.