BERLIN

Germany says Pope’s view of spanking is ‘unacceptable’

Germany and a leading anti-corporal punishment group on Friday rejected as “unacceptable” the pope’s comments that it’s OK to spank your children to discipline them, as long as their dignity is maintained.

In his general audience this week, Pope Francis had praised a father who admitted smacking his child “but never in the face so as to not humiliate them.”

Francis described the man’s comment as “beautiful,” adding: “He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.”

Verena Herb, a spokeswoman for Germany’s Families Ministry, told reporters on Friday that “there can be no dignified hitting.” “There must be no misunderstanding here, because any form of violence against children is completely unacceptable,” she said.

Germany is one of several countries where corporal punishment of children is illegal.

MOSCOW

Putin cancels four-nation Ukrainian peace talks

Talks among the leaders of Russia, France and Germany on a peace initiative for Ukraine ended early Saturday with an announcement that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart would discuss a proposal to end the fighting in a four-way telephone call Sunday. The planned discussions involving Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the leaders of France and Germany came amid urgent shuttle diplomacy to halt the recent intensification of fighting in Ukraine and suggested that a cease-fire proposal was still on the table, although there was no firm announcement of progress.

Even getting the arms to fall silent would be a significant diplomatic breakthrough. The resurgent fighting has fueled fears the conflict is threatening Europe’s overall security and has prompted the U.S. to consider giving lethal weapons to Ukraine, an option opposed by European nations.

– From news service reports