A powerful voice spoke out recently, as Pope Francis assured mothers that breastfeeding in public—even during a papal mass in the famed Sistine Chapel, is perfectly acceptable. During a January mass in which the Pope baptized 32 babies, he gave an unscripted homily and told the mothers "if they are hungry, let them eat—no worries, because they are the main focus."
Some of the mothers present were surprised but pleased to have the Pope's encouragement, and are hopeful that his remarks will help to overcome any remaining social taboos about publicly nursing their infants.
The Pope has spoken out on this matter before, as recently as mid-December. In an interview he made remarks that underline what natural and beautiful things motherhood and maternity are, and said that they must have a place, even in church. The Pope is quoted as saying that "in a world where many children go hungry, people must help them eat." and used the example of a woman he noticed at a general papal audience who was holding her desperatly crying child. He told this young mother that the baby was hungry and urged her to feed him. This young woman was modest, and had been hesitant to breastfeed her child with the Pope standing nearby.
People have reacted positively to Pope Francis's plain speaking, and now he has become an influential proponent for nursing mothers.