Mary McAleese criticises pope over smacking comment

Former president questions Vatican’s commitment to Rights of Child

“What faith are we to have now in the Holy See’s commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child?” former president of Ireland Mary McAleese  has asked in a letter to The Irish Times.  File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

“What faith are we to have now in the Holy See’s commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child?” former president of Ireland Mary McAleese has asked in a letter to The Irish Times. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

Former president Mary McAleese has criticised Pope Francis’s apparent support for parents smacking their children in the name of discipline.

Ms McAleese accused the Vatican of reversing its position on parental corporal punishment, and questioned whether the pope “has turned the clock back considerably”.

“What faith are we to have now in the Holy See’s commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child?” she asked in a letter to The Irish Times.

Speaking in Rome this week, Pope Francis outlined the traits of a good father – one who forgives but is able to “correct with firmness” while not discouraging the child.

“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’,” the pope said. “How beautiful! He knows the sense of dignity.”

But Ms McAleese pointed out the Holy See is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The convention advocates the universal abolition of corporal punishment of children.

Last year, the Vatican responded to the committee saying it did not promote corporal punishment.

In her letter, Ms McAleese asked: “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?”