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NCR: Pope Francis on spanking

8. feb. 2015

Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter, skriver bl.a.:

My parents were ahead of their times in not believing in corporal punishment when I grew up after the Second World War. The only time I remember being slapped by my father was when my brother was fooling around in the backseat of the car. My father's normal reservoir of patience had finally been exhausted and he swung at my brother, who quickly ducked, leaving me the recipient of the slap.
If looks could kill, my father would have been dead and my mother prosecuted for murder. I was too shocked to cry and blamed my brother not my father. I still blame my brother.

Corporal punishment is still a hotly debated topic in our country. Most states do not allow it in schools (19 do). Many parents think it is still useful for disciplining a child, but when NFL player Adrian Peterson beat his son so badly with a switch that wounds appeared, people were rightly appalled. Brutal punishment by a parent is child abuse and a crime.

However, outside of Western Europe and the United States, spanking children is not a controversial issue. In most nations and cultures is an acceptable and even encouraged practice.

Pope Francis stepped into the middle of this controversy with some comments that seemed to endorse corporal punishment at his weekly general audience on Wednesday.

Let's first be clear on what the pope did not say. He did not tell parents to spank their kids. He did not endorse corporal punishment.

In fact, he did just the opposite. He asked parents to limit or moderate any punishment they inflict on their children.


But the bottom line is that the pope did not condemn corporal punishment by parents. Should he have done that? Not being a parent, I will leave that debate to others.

My parents did a decent job raising my sister, my brother, and me. Long ago I forgave my father for hitting me. Maybe someday I will forgive my brother for ducking. 

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