Pope Francis again encouraged mothers to breastfeed their babies ― in church if necessary ― saying that breastfeeding is “the language of love.”
Francis made his remarks during an annual baptism service inside the Vatican’s historic Sistine Chapel on Sunday, where he personally baptized 34 infants.
“If they start performing a concert (by crying), or if they are uncomfortable or too warm or don’t feel at ease or are hungry … breastfeed them, don’t be afraid,” Francis said during the homily, according to Reuters. “Feed them, because this, too, is the language of love.”
The Sunday service commemorated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, when Catholics remember the day that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River.
The Vatican Mass is restricted to children of workers employed by the Vatican or by the Roman Catholic diocese of Rome. This year, Francis baptized 18 girls and 16 boys at the ceremony.
Watch Pope Francis preside over a Holy Baptism Mass in the Sistine Chapel below.
In a report released in August, The World Health Organization found that no country in the world gives enough support to breastfeeding moms.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and WHO both recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first six months, with complementary foods slowly introduced in the months afterwards. Still, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that most moms aren’t breastfeeding for as long as the recommended time ― for reasons ranging from cultural norms about breastfeeding to unsupportive work policies.
Francis’ message about breastfeeding at the Vatican echoed similar comments he’s made in the past, saying that women shouldn’t feel ashamed to feed their babies in public.
Francis has said mothers should feel free to feed their hungry children, “just as Mary breastfed Jesus.”