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Don’t bite, Pope to nun

The good-natured exchange took place at the start of Francis’ weekly general audience

By Reuters
  • Published 9.01.20, 1:40 AM
  • Updated 9.01.20, 1:40 AM
  • a min read
Pope Francis negotiates a kiss with a nun, wearing a blue head scarf, in the crowd at the start of his general audience at the Vatican Wednesday, January 8, 2020 (AP)

Pope Francis, who last month angrily slapped the hand of a woman who yanked him towards her, gave a light-hearted reaction more typical of his papacy on Wednesday when a nun asked him for a kiss.

He said yes, although only after she promised not to bite him. The good-natured exchange took place at the start of Francis’ weekly general audience.

As he was walking into the large hall where thousands of people were waiting, an excited nun asked if he would kiss her, shouting in Italian“Bacio, Papa!” (A kiss, pope!)

Francis responded:“Oh, (but) you bite!”, prompting laughter from the people near them.

Then Francis joked:“Stay calm! I will give you a kiss but you stay calm. Don’t bite!”

The diminutive nun promised, saying “Si” (Yes). He then kissed her on the right cheek, leaving her even more ecstatic than before. She jumped up and down shouted “Grazie, Papa”. (Thank you, Pope).

On New Year’s Eve, Francis, 83, angrily slapped a woman’s hand after she hold of him and forcefully yanked him toward her in St Peter’s Square.

The video of that incident went viral on social media and the next day Francis apologised, saying he had set a “bad example”. Francis is usually very informal with well wishers at such events, stopping to kiss babies, bless the handicapped, and allowing people to touch his hand.