Pope Francis has said it is a “beautiful” thing for a father to beat his child mildly, so long as the parent does not cause humiliation.
The Pope made the remarks this week during his weekly general audience, which was devoted to the role of fathers in the family.
He outlined the traits of a good father: one who forgives but is able to “correct with firmness” while not discouraging the child.
“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!” the Pope remarked.
“He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.”
The Vatican has not yet responded to questions from journalists about the incident.
The comments may harm the Pope’s progressive reputation. In his short term, the former Argentinian bishop has supported the scientific theory of evolution and relaxed the Church’s harsh stance on homosexuality.