Pope Francis says it is OK to smack your children to discipline them — as long as their dignity is maintained. Francis made the remarks this week during his weekly general audience, which was devoted to the role of fathers in the family. He outlined the traits of a good father — one who forgives but is able to “correct with firmness” while not discouraging the child.
The pope said: “One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say ‘I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them.’ How beautiful! He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.”
It’s remarkable that the head of the Catholic Church, an institution whose reputation is in tatters thanks to an epidemic of child abuse, doesn’t exercise a little more prudence when it comes to talking about smacking kids.
The Rev. Thomas Rosica, who works with the Vatican press office, said the pope was obviously not speaking about committing violence or cruelty against a child but rather about “helping someone to grow and mature.” … “Simply watch Pope Francis when he is with children and let the images and gestures speak for themselves!” [said Rosica]. “To infer or distort anything else … reveals a greater problem for those who don’t seem to understand a pope who has ushered in a revolution of normalcy of simple speech and plain gesture.”
So “plain gestures” such as these are fine: