Pope Francis, Breastfeeding, and Breaking with Catholic Tradition

We now know the answer to a question no one in the entire world was asking: What does the bishop of Rome think about breastfeeding in public?

Our Lady of La Leche, Pray for Us!

Sometimes it’s fairly easy to predict how a certain anecdote or even a certain phrase from Pope Francis will get reported by the media. Not surprisingly, the secular media’s reporting often reveals more about the media, than it does about the Pope. Put “Pope Francis” and “Breastfeeding” in the same news item and all bets are off.

First, the set-up. In a recent interview with La Stampa, Pope Francis spoke about child hunger and told the following story in that context:

At the Wednesday General Audience the other day there was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few months old. The child was crying its eyes out as I came past. The mother was caressing it. I said to her: madam, I think the child’s hungry. “Yes, it’s probably time…” she replied. “Please give it something to eat!” I said. She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing. I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat! That woman had milk to give to her child; we have enough food in the world to feed everyone.

The Holy Father’s remarks garnered more than a little attention, often with troll-baity headlines like “Pope Francis’ Stance on Public Breastfeeding Might Surprise You,” or “Pope Francis backs public breastfeeding! And that makes him traditional…

But my favorite part about this whole story has to be this penetrating bit of reportage from the New York Daily News:

“Time’s Person of the Year appears to have broken with staunch Catholic tradition by encouraging the feeding of newborns whenever it’s needed.”

Let’s just say the New York Daily News needs to update the software on their Pope Francis News Story Generator Bot.


Categories:Family Pope Francis Poverty Uncategorized

  • http://instylenursing.com/ Denise

    Pope Francis knows the importance of breastfeeding and it’s great how such a simple story what we all need. Just like the baby was hungry for his mother’s milk, it’s important for those that have the means to provide food, to do so to those in need.

  • http://www.strangecatholic.com Joseph Feeley

    This reminded me of an article I read over at Catholictothemax’s blog called “Why Every Church Needs a Joann” (You can read it here: http://catholictothemax.com/blog/beauty-in-the-small-things/church-future-joann/)

    What it made me realize is that the attitude and openness to the beauty of children, life, and family of the laity is really important.

    Children should be welcomed in parishes. Not frowned upon.

  • Cynthia

    Good article — another side of Pope Francis.
    There is a certain grace to nursing a baby regardless of the age. Yes, I nursed. Yes, I nursed during Mass if my child needed to. Yes, I was very modest in covering up, such a no-brainer in my book. Yes, I tandem nursed and nursed toddlers — but very rarely in public. And if it happened no one knew.
    And for those who think that it is not acceptable to nurse a child in public, would I be wrong in presuming that scantly dressed woman on the beach is perfectly acceptable?
    Western civilization really needs to get a better grip on what is the best for our children in the area of nutrition as well as nurturing. This is an issue that doesn’t seem like it has changed much since I nursed (which is a form of nurtured) my babies 20+ years ago.
    Christ was certainly breastfed, and probably wasn’t weaned for several years. The average age of weaning worldwide is four years, in America it is 3 months. That is sad . . .

  • MominVermont

    I love how the Pope took the time to share his concern for the crying infant! And he also knew the simple remedy–feed the baby:)

    And that New York Daily News bite would be hysterical if it weren’t such painfully bad PR. Little wonder so many hate the Church when it is portrayed like this.



Receive our updates via email.