Pope Francis Called Hitting Kids ‘Beautiful’ As Long As ‘Dignity Is Maintained’

Just as liberals and non-religious people were almost ready to deify the better than in a long time Pope, he reminds us that both he and the Catholic Church still have a very long way to go.

On Wednesday, he spoke in favor of a referendum that denies LGBT couples the right to marry and the right to adopt. On Friday, his remarks were about children, and he appears to be of the “spare the rod, spoil the child” biblical persuasion. He even went so far as to call smacking children “beautiful” as long as the child maintains “the sense of dignity.”

“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’,” Francis said.

“How beautiful.” he added. “He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.”

Source: The Guardian

The quote was controversial enough that the Vatican press office was compelled to make their own statement defending the pontiff:

The Rev Thomas Rosica, who collaborates 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.”

“Who has not disciplined their child or been disciplined by parents when we are growing up?” Rosica said in an email. “Simply watch Pope Francis when he is with children and let the images and gestures speak for themselves. 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.”

The vast majority of Americans agree with the Pope that it’s okay to occasionally spank a child but what’s particularly troubling is that in the midst of abuse scandals, the Church should be defending children and in some ways, this is a step backwards.

In 2013, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference condemned corporal punishment of children, saying instead:

Positive discipline is not only about not using corporal punishment; it is about providing a consistently nurturing and containing environment that is as predictable as possible. Children who are able to explore and experiment with boundaries within a safe, secure environment are less likely to experiment or engage in risky behaviour in adulthood, as they are ‘self‐ contained’.

Again Gregory Popcak writes that “there is an important distinction to be made between discipline and punishment… discipline assumes a teacher‐student relationship, and its main objective is to teach the offender what to do instead of the offence”. He continues “discipline is less concerned with teaching compliance with the law than it is with teaching children to have deeper, more respectful and loving relationships”.

Featured image courtesy of Republic of Korea on Flickr.