ROME (AP) – Pope Francis has denounced domestic violence against women as “almost satanic” and said parents should never slap their children.

Francis made the comments during a televised encounter with an abused woman who recently fled her home with her four children. Their reunion aired Sunday evening on the private network Mediaset’s TG5 program and also included footage of Francis interacting with a homeless woman, a prisoner and a student.

The abused woman told her story to the Pope and asked him how she could regain her dignity after she and her children suffered so much violence.

Francis, who has spoken of “feminicides” in the past, responded by acknowledging the problem of domestic violence, which regularly makes headlines in Italy.

“For me, the problem is almost satanic, because it is about taking advantage of the weakness of those who cannot defend themselves, who can only try to stop the blows,” he said. “It’s humiliating, very humiliating.”

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He then added that it was also “humiliating” for a parent to slap a child. “I always say it: never slap a child in the face. Why? Because your face is your dignity.

Responding directly to the abused woman’s question, Francis told her that she had not lost her dignity at all.

“I can feel your dignity. If you had lost your dignity, you would not be here, ”he said, urging her to be inspired by the image of the“ Pieta ”, the statue of Mary cradling Jesus crucified.

“Look at Our Lady and remember this image of courage,” he said.

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