Pope Francis says that spanking is justified as long as it preserves the dignity of the child and is not done in the face, USA Today reported
"One time, I heard a father say, 'at times I have to hit my children a bit, but never in the face so as not to humiliate them,'" the Pope said during comments Wednesday at his general audience in St. Peter's Square.
"That's great," Francis continued. "He had a sense of dignity. He should punish, do the right thing, and then move on."
His remarks came one year after a United Nations committee focused on implementing a children's rights treaty recommended that the Vatican change its official policy and prohibit corporal punishment, USA Today noted.
The Holy See said at the time that it would review its recommendations, but also said parents "should be able to rectify their child's inappropriate action by imposing certain reasonable consequences for such behavior, taking into consideration the child's ability to understand the same as corrective," USA Today reported.
"In general, yes, I would concur [with the Pope's remarks] but I think this issue has so many controversial and deeply related emotional issues," Jared Pingleton, a clinical psychologist and minister who is director of counseling for the non-profit Focus on the Family, told USA Today.
He believes spanking is justified when done lovingly and with thought and can actually have positive benefits of educating and shaping children, USA Today reported.
Others have rejected the Pope's view, saying he should be discouraging corporal punishment.
"It is disappointing that anyone with that sort of influence would make such a comment," Peter Newell, coordinator of the Global Alliance to End Corporal Punishment of Children, told Inquisitr.com, according to USA Today.
"Now, 44 countries worldwide have prohibited all physical punishment, including in the family, and another 45 are clearly committed to doing so."
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday announced that Pope Francis will address a joint meeting
of the House and Senate on Sept. 24. He will be the first pontiff to do so.
"We're humbled that the Holy Father has accepted our invitation and certainly look forward to receiving his message on behalf of the American people," Boehner told reporters.
Pope Francis is also expected to visit the White House as well as speak at the United Nations in New York and attend a massive Catholic rally for families in Philadelphia.
"In a time of global upheaval, the Holy Father's message of compassion and human dignity has moved people of all faiths and backgrounds," Boehner said in a written statement released as he spoke to reporters.
"His teachings, prayers, and very example bring us back to the blessings of simple things and our obligations to one another."
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