At a ceremony in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday, the 80-year-old encouraged all mothers in attendance to breastfeed their children if necessary, The New York Times reported. After all, Jesus was once a hungry baby.
“Since the ceremony is a little long, someone’s crying because he’s hungry,” the pope said in Italian, referencing the noise of a crying baby. “That’s the way it is. You mothers, go ahead and breastfeed, without fear. Just like the Virgin Mary nursed Jesus.”
The pontiff had baptized 28 babies earlier in the mass — and called the sound of the crying infants a “concert.”
“I would like to think that the first sermon of Jesus in the stable was his crying,” he said, USA Today reported.
Pope Francis has made statements of support towards public breastfeeding in the past — including during a baptismal ceremony last year, where Time reported he told mothers “If they are crying for hunger, nurse them.”
RELATED VIDEO: Breastfeeding Mother Threatened With Arrest
In December 2013 during an interview with La Stampa, he recounted encouraging a mother to breastfeed while he passed by:
“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!”
Pope Francis is known for his progressive social stances. In America, breastfeeding in public can often be seen as a social taboo — with one mother even experiencing pushback from authorities as she tried to nurse her child.