Pope Francis wants women to feel comfortable breastfeeding their babies in Catholic churches.
During the annual baptism ceremony in the Sistine Chapel Sunday, where the 81-year-old blessed 34 babies of Vatican employees and the diocese of Rome, the Pope encouraged women to breastfeed their babies during the two-hour long ceremony, calling the act a “language of love,” NPR reports.
“Babies have their own dialect,” the Pope began after giving a homily in Italian telling parents to teach their children the language of love. “If one starts to cry the others will follow, like in an orchestra.”
He went on to say that if babies were “starting a concert” of crying because they were hungry, their mothers should “go ahead and feed them” because the act is “a language of love.”
This isn’t the first time that he has expressed his support for breastfeeding, the Pope having encouraged mothers to breastfeed during last year’s annual ceremony at the Sistine Chapel, comparing the mothers and babies in attendance to the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.
“Since the ceremony is a little long, someone’s crying because he’s hungry,” the Pope said in Italian, after hearing a crying baby. “That’s the way it is. You mothers, go ahead and breastfeed, without fear. Just like the Virgin Mary nursed Jesus.”
Today, women still face harassment for breastfeeding their babies in public spaces, with reports of mothers being kicked out of malls and off planes for feeding their children, and while the Pope’s support of breastfeeding may seem radical, Neomi DeAnda, who teaches religious studies at the University of Notre Dame, noted that the act of breastfeeding has frequently been depicted in the religion.
“The Catholic Church has traditionally had images of breast milk, which have actually been silenced over the last couple hundred years,” DeAnda said.
The Pope has also made headlines recently for calling for a word change to The Lord’s Prayer, which is one of the most widely used prayers in Christianity.