On Sunday at a ceremony in which he baptized 33 infants, Pope Francis encouraged breastfeeding at the Sistine Chapel as he told the mothers present that they should feel free to do so if their babies cried or were hungry. Departing from his prepared text, the Pope said:
You mothers give your children milk and even now, if they cry because they are hungry, breastfeed them, don't worry.
The text of his sermon read "give them milk," but Francis strayed from it and used Italian word "allattateli," translated to "breastfeed them," adding that mothers should not hesitate. 20 girls and 13 boys were baptized Sunday, and as they cried, the Pope reminded the attendees of poor mothers around the world:
[T]oo many, unfortunately, who can't give food to their children.
But before he even began his homily, at least one mother was seen breastfeeding under the famed Michaelangelo frescoes. The Pope has previously been vocal on his stance on breastfeeding, even encouraging a mother to do so in public. But it seems his views are in line with traditional Catholic values — depictions of Virgin Mary breastfeeding Baby Jesus were one of the earliest symbol of God’s love for humanity, wrote David Gibson of Religious News Service.
At the annual baptism ceremony, the Pope also encouraged parents and godparents to set an example of reading the Gospel daily. He said:
Keep it in a pocket or a purse. This will be an example to a child to read the word of God.
Breastfeeding has become a widely contentious topic, particularly in the U.S., as the debate over whether the act is "appropriate" in public, probably because the female breast is somehow always sexual, and therefore vulgar. Although breastfeeding rates in the U.S. seem to be on the rise, negative sentiments toward it remain, and mothers are persistently discriminated against for breastfeeding in public.
Pope Francis, the first non-European Pontiff ever elected in the history of the Catholic Church, has become renowned for his progressive views — from opening up to the LGBT community to his opinions on climate change, to even his role as an international diplomat of sorts — to a celebrated first in the historically rigid values that the church has held.
And in case you remain a non-believer in this really cool Pope, check out this photo of him nonchalantly blessing an infant next to a breastfeeding mom.
Image: Getty Images (2)