Holy moly, have breastfeeding mothers just gotten a gift from on high. Forget the nursing celebrities who are lavished with praise for letting the paparazzi snap pictures of them feeding their babies, there's a new promoter of nursing in public who eclipses them all. You have heard of Pope Francis, haven't you?
The still relatively new pope has once again proved himself to truly be the pope of the people, and this time his people are all the nursing moms who just can't get no respect. His eminence might have just settled the debate over sex vs. sustenance when it comes to moms whipping out the breast to feed in public.
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In an interview with an Italian newspaper, the leader of the Catholic church related an encounter with a mother of a crying baby:
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.
Ahem! Did you hear that, oh prudes the world over? A celibate man whose ears are thisclose to God doesn't have a problem with seeing a mother breastfeed her child. The most holy of holy men in the WORLD doesn't see sex when he sees a baby at the breast! He sees only a hungry child ... and a mother answering his cry.
How ... sensible?
Raised Catholic and now lapsed, I've had my qualms with the Church over the years, but Pope Francis has done much in his short tenure to make me reconsider joining the fold -- and his support of mothers in general is a big part of it. He's made it a point to empower moms since taking over the Vatican, and this pronouncement on breastfeeding -- although a small part of what really seems to be a message about hunger -- is further proof that he puts real value on the mother not just for having children but for herself.
If you think about it, that's a crucial piece of the argument over breastfeeding in public. The breast may be sexual in certain contexts, but when you can't see past its sexuality to allow for a mother to feed her child in public, you are devaluing the human being attached to that breast. She isn't just a sex machine. She is a multi-faceted creature!
I just can't wait for the churches that have hassled moms for nursing their babies to read this one. What argument will they have now? It's not sexual ... not if the head of the Holy See doesn't see it that way.
Have you ever breastfed in a religious setting? What was the reaction?
Image via Semilla Luz/Flickr