Pope Francis encourages breastfeeding at Sistine Chapel
In another gesture that may be disconcerting to some Catholics, Pope Francis encouraged mothers to breastfeed their young at the Sistine Chapel. Baptizing 32 babies in the Sistine Chapel this past weekend, Francis told mothers to feel relaxed about feeding them.
"If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, tranquilly. Because they are the protagonists here," Pope Francis said at the Sistine Chapel.
"Today the choir will sing but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the babies who will make a noise. Some will cry because they are not comfortable or because they are hungry," he said during a brief homily.
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"If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, tranquilly. Because they are the protagonists here," he said.
Francis said a month ago that women should feel comfortable about breast feeding during his ceremonies. It's being seen as a controversial move, as breast feeding in public is rare in Italy and almost unheard of during Catholic church services in some parts of the world. Some feel this could even alarm some in the Vatican.
During the week, the Sistine Chapel is under the protection of guards who seek to facilitate the many tourists who pack in to stare at Michelangelo's masterpiece. Following damage to the fragile frescoes by dust and heat, officials decided to vacuum clean and blow cold air on visitors before they enter.
Francis' stand on breast feeding is in line with his repeated bids to break down some of what is seen as the stiff protocol in the Vatican. As he drove round St Peters Square this week in the popemobile greeting well-wishers, Francis spotted a priest he knew from Argentina and invited him to jump the barricade and climb on board for a circuit of the square.
At a weekly audience in September, a couple called out to Francis as he passed and asked if he would baptize their new born baby, Giulia.
"He told us to talk to his assistants, who then contacted us," said the father, Ivan Scardia. Scardia said he was concerned that he would be turned down because he and his wife were married in a civil, not religious ceremony. "But this problem was overcome," he said. Giulia was among the 32 babies baptized on Sunday in the Sistine Chapel.
Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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