It has been less than one year since Pope Francis was inaugurated, but in that time he has been hailed as one of the more liberal popes in recent history. After causing much uproar for refusing to judge homosexuals back in July, the Pope has now raised a few eyebrows by encouraging breastfeeding at the Sistine Chapel. While that probably shouldn’t be considered a controversial stance, breastfeeding is often discouraged in public spaces.
Pope Francis had 32 babies to baptize during Mass yesterday at the Sistine Chapel. With so many babies to baptize, it’s easy to see how things could have gotten hectic very quickly, especially if some of the babies needed to be fed. This could have posed a problem for breastfeeding moms since they are often told not to breastfeed in public. No worries at the Sistine Chapel, though–during the service, Pope Francis told mothers not to let their babies go hungry and to feel welcome to breastfeed.
“Today the choir will sing but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise. Some will cry because they are not comfortable or because they are hungry,” Pope Francis said. “If they are hungry, mothers, let them eat, no worries, because here, they are the main focus.”
This isn’t the first time the Pope has encouraged public breastfeeding, although it is may be the most publicized. Back in December, Pope Francis was discussing children suffering from hunger in an interview with La Stampa, and he shared a time when he told a woman it was okay to breastfeed in his presence.
“At the Wednesday General Audience the other day there was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few months old,” the Pope said. “The child was crying its eyes out as I came past…I said to her: ‘madam, I think the child’s hungry.’ ‘Yes, it’s probably time…’ she replied. ‘Please give it something to eat!’ I said. She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing. I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat! That woman had milk to give to her child; we have enough food in the world to feed everyone.”
The Pope’s endorsement of public breastfeeding means a lot for the breastfeeding moms that often find themselves under scrutiny for nourishing their babies in public. “I think that even if you aren’t a religious person it has tremendous meaning. The fact he openly accepts breastfeeding mothers at his services is a big deal because of the stature he holds” breastfeeding mom Lindsey Musgrave commented. “If someone that is so against sin and impurity openly encourages and accepts breastfeeding mothers at his services, who could be against it?”
That certainly makes a lot of sense, but some people are still sounding off against public breastfeeding on Twitter.
— John McKew I (@JohnMcKew) January 13, 2014
I think it's absurd when women breast feed in public…especially when your child is like 2… #getoffthenipple
— Alexandra Sokol (@AlexandraSokool) January 13, 2014
Image via Wikimedia Commons