It's OK to spank your child as long as you preserve the child's "dignity" and don't touch the face, according to Pope Francis. "One time, I heard a father say, 'I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them,'" the pontiff said Wednesday during an audience in St. Peter's Square. "How beautiful!" Francis continued. "He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on." A Vatican spokesperson tells the AP the comment isn't about violence toward children but rather "helping someone to grow and mature." Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't "seem to understand a pope who has ushered in a revolution of normalcy of simple speech and plain gesture."
A clinical psychologist and minister tells USA Today he backs Francis up. Spanking, when it is done "proactively"—properly explained to a child and done in private—helps educate, he says, though "this issue has so many controversial and deeply related emotional issues." Last year, a UN human rights committee recommended that the Holy See prohibit corporal punishment of children. In a written response, the Vatican noted parents "should be able to rectify their child's inappropriate action by imposing certain reasonable consequences." During a Google Hangout with children with special needs yesterday, the pope touched on a less controversial topic. "I'm a dinosaur," he told a teen, per People. "I don't know how to work a computer."