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Pope Breastfeeding: 'Let Them Eat,' He Tells Moms in Sistine Chapel

Image: Pope Breastfeeding: 'Let Them Eat,' He Tells Moms in Sistine Chapel

Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 08:58 AM

By Alexandra Ward


Keeping with his practice of blasting papal stereotypes, Pope Francis advocated breastfeeding in the Sistine Chapel over the weekend when he told new mothers gathered to have their babies baptized to "let them eat."

The pontiff baptized 32 babies Sunday and called the chorus of cries "the most beautiful choir of all."

"Some will cry because they are uncomfortable or because they are hungry," Pope Francis said, according to CNN. "If they are hungry, mothers, let them eat, no worries, because here, they are the main focus."

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His lax attitude toward breastfeeding in a public, sacred site like the Sistine Chapel surprised some.

"Who would have thought the Pope would be this great proponent?" Emer McCarthy, a journalist at Vatican Radio, said to Catholic News Service.

This isn't the first time the pope has addressed his feelings on breastfeeding. In a December interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa, Francis told an anecdote about a baby crying during a General Audience service.

"There was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few months old. The child was crying its eyes out as I came past. The mother was caressing it," he said. "I said to her: 'Madam, I think the child's hungry. ... Please give it something to eat!'"

"She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing," he continued. "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 comments generated mostly positive feedback at the time.

"So Francis is backing breast-feeding in public! That is sure to warm [the hearts] of pro-nursing feminists and maybe raise a few eyebrows among the traditional set," David Gibson of Religion News Service wrote in a December blog post.

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