Pope Francis’ comments on how children should be raised have divided many of his followers. Two weeks ago the Pope said that he felt spanking a child was not a problem as long as parents did not hit them in the face.
Pope Francis addressed the audience in St. Peter’s Square and described how important a good father was to having a good family.
He said, “I once heard at a wedding a father say, 'I sometimes have to hit my children a little but never in the face, so as to not demean them.' How nice, I thought, he has a sense of dignity.”
He continued, “When he punishes, he does it right and moves on."
The Pope’s words incited social media conflict between supporters and detractors of his comments. Some agree that spanking could be instructive without being abusive, while others felt it was wrong no matter how humiliating or violent.
However, Pope Francis was using the anecdote in order to describe the traits that a good father has.
He explained, “A good father knows how to wait and knows how to forgive from the bottom of his heart. Of course he can also discipline with a firm hand: he's not weak, submissive, sentimental.”
"This father knows how to discipline without demeaning; he knows how to protect without restraint,” he said.
Vatican spokesperson Father Thomas Rosica warned the Pope’s followers to not take his words out of context.
He told CNN, “It's about time that we stop and allow the Pope to speak the language of most ordinary people, especially parents, who understand the Pope far better than those who parse every single word and statement that comes out of his mouth!"
"Let us not read into the Pope's words anything other than what is there. He speaks constantly of mercy and tenderness. He speaks as a pastor and loving father figure who loves children and wants the best for them,” he said.
Currently, corporal punishment is banned in 43 nations, about half of which are in Europe. The United States does not have a ban on corporal punishment.