At an annual baptism event at the Sistine Chapel on Sunday, Pope Francis urged the mothers present to breastfeed their babies "without thinking twice" as the children "are the most important people here."
His brief sermon was focused on the 32 infants he was baptizing, and the pope echoed the sentiments of Jesus about children. This is not the first time that Pope Francis would be speaking on this issue. Last month in an Italian newspaper, he chided moms not be embarrassed about breastfeeding their babies in public, using a personal story about a mom and her hungry newborn.
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 month s 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!
Below, is Vatican Radio's translation of the complete text of Pope Francis’ homily at the Solemn Mass for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord:
Jesus did not need to be baptized, but the first theologians say that, with His body, with His divinity, in the Baptism He blessed all the waters, so that water would have the power to give baptism. And then, before ascending to Heaven, Jesus told us to go into all the world to baptize. And from that day until the present day, this has been an unbroken chain: they baptized their children, and their children [baptized] their children, and their children [and so on]... And even today this chain continues.
These children are a link in a chain. You parents have the baby boy or girl to be baptized, but in a few years it will be they who will have a baby to be baptized, or a grandchild... And so goes the chain of faith! What does this mean? I would just tell you this: you are the ones that transmit the faith, the transmitters, you have a duty to pass on the faith to these children. It 's the most beautiful legacy that you leave to them: the faith! Only this. Today, take this thought home with you. We must be transmitters of the faith. Think about this, always think of how to transmit the faith to the children.
Today the choir is singing; but the most beautiful choir is that of the children, who are making noise... Some cry because they are not comfortable, or because they are hungry: if they are hungry, moms, give them something to eat, calmly, because they are the central figures, the protagonists [of this celebration]. And now, with this awareness of being transmitters of the faith, let us continue the ceremony of Baptism.