VATICAN CITY – Last Wednesday during the Pope Francis’ weekly General Audience he touched on the issue of corporal punishment within a family when he said:
A good father knows how to wait and knows how to forgive from the depths of his heart. Certainly, he also knows how to correct with firmness: he is not a weak father, submissive and sentimental. The father who knows how to correct without humiliating is the one who knows how to protect without sparing himself. Once I heard a father at a meeting on marriage say: “Sometimes I have to strike the children lightly… but never in the face so as not to humiliate them”. How beautiful! He has a sense of dignity. He must punish, but he does it in a just way, and moves on.
The resultant outcry has covered the gamut from groups advocating for the protection of children to even members of the Vatican sex abuse commission.
The Vatican commission, comprised of 17-members, affirmed that it would make recommendations to the papacy about protecting children from corporal punishment.
Dr. Krysten Winter-Green, another commission member from New Zealand, urged parents to use different methods when disciplining children:
“There has to be positive parenting, in a different way,” she said.
There have been leaked reports that Pope Francis in his continued catechesis on the family will again bring up this topic. This time in regards to how children should be obedient in the face of such punishment done withing the context their dignity. One translation of the leaked text says:
Children you should always honor your mother and father as the commandment says. When you have transgressed against them and deserve punishment receive that light spank in a spirit of humility and contrition and even as Jesus said to “turn the other cheek.” (cf. Luke 6:39)