'Undisciplined' child walks on stage during Pope Francis' audience

The Swiss Guards and Vatican gendarmes stood by nervously while six-year-old Wenzel Wirth did his own thing in the Vatican audience hall.

When he took the microphone, Francis told his audience that the boy was speech-impaired and praised him for being "free".

Pope Francis said the young boy made him think of himself.

"He's from Argentina, he's undisciplined", Francis joked to an aide.

"This boy can not speak, he is mute", Francis told those gathered for his weekly general audience, after the boy's mother apologized and explained to the pope that her son was autistic, Italian media reported.

"This child can not speak. Unruly. but he is free".

"And he has something that made me think: He's free. He is mute. But he can communicate", the Pope told the crowd of hundreds. "And let us ask for the grace that he may be able to speak", the pope concluded.

The boy's father, Ariel Wirth, told The Associated Press that Wenzel suffers from behavioural problems as well as his speech limitations, and that the family at home tries simply to let him express himself however he can. We should all be as free before God as a child before his father. "He has to express himself, and we live without hiding his problems", he said.

When Pope Francis is in the room all eyes are usually focused on him - but that wasn't the case Wednesday when one very excited little boy stole the limelight, breaking through crowds to play and roll around at the Pope's feet. Wirth said Wenzel was exhausted after the long journey and long wait for the pope Wednesday morning, and clearly needed to run around.

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