"Spank your kids if you must, but make sure you don't demean them," was the gist of Pope Francis' message to parents around the world during his weekly general audience -- which was about the role of fathers in the family -- held in Rome this week, the Yahoo News website reports today (February 7, 2015).
Some groups -- including parents and children's rights advocates -- criticized the pope for what they saw as an endorsement of corporal punishment.
"It is disappointing that anyone with that sort of influence would make such a comment," said Peter Newell, coordinator at the Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment of Children.
Peter Saunders -- founder of the UK-based National Association for People Abused in Childhood -- called the pope's statement "misguided." He said, "It is a most unhelpful remark [for the pope] to have made and I will tell him that." Saunders was abused by Catholic priests as a boy and was appointed by Pope Francis to a Vatican commission protecting children from abuse.