Pope Francis tells mothers in Sistine Chapel to breastfeed babies if they want

Mother of one of 32 babies baptised by pope was married in civil ceremony

Pope Francis baptised 32 newborn babies in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday (January 12). Francis said in an interview last month that mothers should not feel uncomfortable breastfeeding during his ceremonies.

Mon, Jan 13, 2014, 10:30

Pope Francis baptised 32 babies in the Sistine Chapel yesterday and told their mothers, including one who was married in a civil service rather than in church, to have no qualms about breast-feeding them there.

Unlike his predecessors, who usually delivered long and theology-laden homilies at the yearly baptism event, the pope offered a brief, improvised homily of some 300 words centred on the children.

“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,” he said.

Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel are some of the world’s most celebrated works of art. The ceiling depicts the creation of man and the altar wall shows a severe God at the Last Judgment. But the pope told the mothers not to feel intimidated by the surroundings. “If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice. Because they are the most important people here,” he said.

Francis said in an interview last month that mothers should not feel uncomfortable breastfeeding during his ceremonies.

In another apparent first in the Vatican, the parents of one of the babies, seven-month-old Giulia Scardia, were not married in church but at a civil service in a town hall – meaning their marriage is technically not recognised by the Catholic Church.

But the pope has said several times since his election that the church must not make children of couples in irregular situations feel like second-class faithful, and he agreed to baptise Giulia into
the faith. – (Reuters)