The Pope has said that he believes it is OK for parents to smack their children, as long the child maintains his or her dignity.
Pope Francis was speaking about the role of fathers in the family at his weekly general audience.
He said that he believed that the father’s job was to ‘correct with firmness’ but not discourage the child. Most of all it was important for a father to be able to forgive.
Pope Francis 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.”
The Rev Thomas Rosica, from the Vatican press office said that the Pope was not advocating violence but rather that smacking children should an option for parents to help their child ‘grow and mature’.
Rev. Rosica said: “Who has not disciplined their child or been disciplined by parents when we are growing up?
“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.”
Later this year the Pope Francis is set to become the first Pope to address a joint meeting of Congress when he visits the US.