Former President Mary McAleese has criticised Pope Francis’ comments on smacking children, warning it could signal a turning back of the clock in the church’s attitude to corporal punishment and children’s rights.
Earlier in the week, the Pope reaclled a conversation he had with a father who told him he sometimes hit his children, condoning the punishment.
In a letter to the, the former professor of law at Trinity highlights the Vatican is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Is the Holy See now doing what it claimed not to be doing a year ago, namely actively and internationally promoting the corporal punishment of children,” she wrote.
The Convention advocates the abolition of corporal punishment of children in all circumstances.
Earlier this week, the pope said: “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! He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.”
The Vatican press office said the pope was obviously not speaking about committing violence or cruelty against a child but rather about “helping someone to grow and mature”.