While far too many breastfeeding moms continue to be targeted for nursing their L.O.s in public, it's clear they have a supporter in Pope Francis. The leader of the Catholic Church is making headlines for his remarks about public breastfeeding, which he gave at an annual ceremony to commemorate the baptism of Jesus. At the event, he addressed the families of 28 infants who were to be baptized in the Sistine Chapel, NPR reports.
In response to some of the exhausted little ones' crying, the Pope reportedly joked that the concert had begun. Vatican Radio noted that the Pope joked that the babies are crying, because they are in an unfamiliar place, or because they had to get up early, or sometimes simply because they hear another child crying. Jesus did just the same, Pope Francis said, adding that he liked to think of Our Lord's first sermon as his crying in the stable. "And if your children are crying because they are hungry, the Pope told the mothers present, then go ahead and feed them, just as Mary breastfed Jesus," he said.
The comment is not the first that Pope Francis has made in support of breastfeeding mothers. A couple of years ago, at the same ceremony, he encouraged moms to nurse their little ones if they were crying or hungry. According to the Washington Post, the Pope said, "You mothers give your children milk and even now, if they cry because they are hungry, breast-feed them, don't worry."
The Pope's stance on women breastfeeding in church -- or anywhere that happens to be in public, really -- seems to be at odds with what some church-goers have experienced, according to a couple different reports NPR notes, like one in Christianity Today titled, "Breast-feeding in the Back Pew." In the piece, writer Rachel Marie Stone recalled, "On a family trip to St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, as I started to breast-feed my son in the sanctuary, I was whisked away by a security guard to the bathroom. Countless other Christian women, trying to feed their children without having to miss a sermon, have faced the disapproval of others who think breasts have no place in the sanctuary."
With hope, these remarks from the Pope will help women in Stone's position avoid frustrating situations like the one she recalled. Obviously, it's a very specific dilemma. In the greater scheme of things, though, nursing moms don't really need men to tell them where or when they can feed their little ones. What they do need is their unwavering support. With hope, this news will only serve to make that more prevalent here in the U.S. and around the world.