Members of Pope Francis’ sex abuse commission have sharply criticised his remarks that it is OK for parents to smack their children.
The commission said there is no place for physical discipline and that it would be making recommendations to the pope about protecting children from corporal punishment.
The commission met with its full 17 members for the first time last week and announced progress on Saturday on drafting policies for holding bishops accountable when they cover up for paedophile priests.
It will also be organising educational seminars for Vatican officials and bishops on protecting children from predators.
But members got an unexpected and urgent new task when Francis told his general audience last week that it was OK for parents to smack their children if their dignity was respected.
Commission member Peter Saunders, who was sexually abused by a priest as a teen, said the committee would recommend that the pope revise his remarks, given that “millions of children around the world are physically beaten every day”.
“It might start off as a light tap, but actually the whole idea about hitting children is about inflicting pain,” Mr Saunders said.
“That’s what it’s about and there is no place in this day and age for having physical punishment, for inflicting pain, in terms of how you discipline your children.”
Another commission member, Dr Krysten Winter-Green, a New Zealand native now working in the US with abused young people, said there was no type of corporal punishment for children that was acceptable.
“There has to be positive parenting, in a different way,” she said.