- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2014

Pope Francis — already perceived as the pontiff of the plain masses for his humble reach-out to the poverty-stricken and his physical embrace of the afflicted and obviously ailed — has now sent a new shockwave with another image buster, telling moms during a baptism: Go ahead and breastfeed.

He sent out the advisement during a Sistine Chapel ceremony of 32 babies and their mothers, peppered by cries of hungry infants.

He told the mothers, The Independent reported: “If they are hungry, mothers, feed them without thinking twice, because they are the most important people here.”

The pontiff gave only the briefest of homilies before the baptisms, a deviance from previous pope practices that have included long sermons, heavy on the theology.

“Today, the choir will sing, but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise,” he said, The Independent reported. “Some will cry because they are not comfortable, or because they are hungry.”

The pope’s remarks followed an interview with an Italian newspaper in December during which he linked breastfeeding to recycling food and wastefulness, after a mother appeared to act shyly in front of him about breastfeeding her baby. He told the Italian paper then how he approached the mother, whose baby was “crying its eyes out” with hunger and asked her to “please give it something to eat.”

That’s the same message he wanted to spread to all the world, he said, The Independent reported: “I wish to say the same to humanity — give people something to eat.”

The Catholic Church’s newest pope has been pictured with some of the poorest, advising the world to feed them. He’s also made international waves with photographs that show him stroking the head of a deformed man, offering physical comfort and words of compassion.