Pope Francis encourages mothers to breastfeed in the Sistine Chapel

Pope Francis said the 32 babies he was baptising were "the most important people" in the chapel

Pope Francis has become an unlikely advocate for public breastfeeding, by encouraging mothers to feed their babies in the Sistine Chapel.

During a ceremony in Vatican City on Sunday, the Pope baptised 32 babies and told their mothers: “If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice, because they are the most important people here.”

The ceremony saw the Pope deliver a brief, improvised homily centred on the children - a departure from the long, theology-laden sermons given by his predecessors.

“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 told parents.

His words come after he linked breastfeeding to recycling food and wastefulness in an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa last month, after a mother seemed shy about feeding her child in his presence. 

He described how as he approached the mother at his weekly Papal General Audience, her child was “crying its eyes out” with hunger and so he asked her to “please give it something to eat!”

He added:“I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat!”

Pope Francis baptises one of 32 babies during a mass in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Pope Francis baptises one of 32 babies during a mass in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican  

Read more: Pope Francis encourages mother to breast-feed in public

In another apparent first in the Vatican, the parents of one of the babies at the ceremony 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 agreed to baptise 7-month-old Giulia Scardia into the faith.

“We decided to get married very quickly,” Giulia's mother Nicoletta told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. “We were in a hurry and there was no time to organise a church ceremony. Maybe we will do it sometime.”

Last year, Pope Francis has had to defend himself after he was criticised by prominent conservatives for preaching so-called “pure Marxism”.

In a separate interview with La Stampa, the Pope called Marxism “wrong”, but did not condemn people who hold left-wing views.

Read more: Pope Francis warns priests can become 'little monsters' if they are not trained properly

'Pope Francis effect' inspires papal onesies, lampshades, iPhones  

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album