Pope Francis praises breastfeeding mother as 'example of tenderness'

Pope Francis praises breastfeeding mother as an ‘example of tenderness and beauty’ as he reverts to going without a Covid face mask during Vatican general audience

  • Pope praised Valentina Frey as she breastfed her daughter Charlotte Katharina
  • Francis did not wear a face mask for the duration of the Vatican audience again
  • The Pope greeted six coronavirus mask-less bishops at the end of the audience 

Pope Francis praised a breastfeeding mother as he reverted to going without a coronavirus face mask during the Vatican general audience today. 

Francis mentioned Switzerland’s Valentina Frey at the start of the audience in the  Paul VI hall while she breastfed her daughter Charlotte Katharina.

He said the act was an example of ‘tenderness’ and ‘beauty’ before continuing his speech.

The Pope said: ‘Something caught my attention while the readers were reciting the Biblical passages there was the baby over there that was crying.

Pope Francis praised Switzerland’s Valentina Frey at the start of his Vatican general audience in the the Paul VI hall while she breastfed her daughter Charlotte Katharina today

The Pope praised Valentina Frey’s breastfeeding as an example of ‘tenderness’ and ‘beauty’ before continuing his speech

The Pope said: I was looking at the mother. Who was nursing the baby and comforting her and I was thinking about how God is like this with us. How he often tries to comfort us and nurse us’

The Pope reverted to going without a coronavirus face mask while addressing the audience in the Vatican City, Rome, Italy, today

‘And I was looking at the mother. Who was nursing the baby and comforting her.

‘I was thinking about how God is like this with us. How he often tries to comfort us and nurse us.

‘It is a beautiful image when we see this happening in church and we hear a baby crying and we see a mother’s tenderness.

‘We thank her for her witness. The tenderness of a mother is a symbol of God’s tenderness with us.

‘Never silence a baby in church because that is the voice that draws God’s tenderness. Thank you for you witness.’ 

The Pope did not wear a face mask for the duration of the audience again or when he greeted a half-dozen mask-less bishops at the end

While the clerics wore masks while seated during the audience, all but one took his mask off to speak to the pope

The Pope did not wear a face mask for the duration of the audience again or when he greeted a half-dozen mask-less bishops at the end. 

He shook hands and leaned in to chat privately with each one.

While the clerics wore masks while seated during the audience, all but one took his mask off to speak to the pope. 

Only one kept it on, and by the end of his tete-a-tete with Francis, had lowered it under his chin.

Vatican regulations now require facemasks to be worn indoors and out where distancing can’t be ‘always guaranteed’. 

Francis explained to the audience why he didn’t plunge into the crowd at the start of the audience as he usually would do

He said: ‘I’m sorry for this, but it’s for your own safety. Rather than get close to you, shake your hands and greet you, I greet you from far away’

The Vatican hasn’t responded to questions about why the pope wasn’t following either Vatican regulations or basic public health measures to prevent Covid-19.

Francis explained to the audience why he didn’t plunge into the crowd at the start of the audience as he usually would do. 

But he said his distance from them was for their own well-being, to prevent crowds from forming around him.

He said: ‘I’m sorry for this, but it’s for your own safety. Rather than get close to you, shake your hands and greet you, I greet you from far away. 

‘But know that I’m close to you with my heart.’

He didn’t address his decision to forego wearing a mask.

The Pope said his distance from them was for their own well-being, to prevent crowds from forming around him

Clergymen laugh as Pope Francis attends the general audience, in the San Damaso courtyard, Vatican City

Francis did, however, wear a white face mask throughout an interreligious prayer service in downtown Rome yesterday, removing it only to speak. 

He had previously only been seen wearing one once before as he entered and exited his car in a Vatican courtyard on September 9. 

Italian law requires masks indoors and out.

At 83 and with part of a lung removed when he was in his 20s due to illness, the pope would be at high risk for COVID-19 complications. 

He has urged the faithful to comply with government mandates to protect public health.

Francis wore a white face mask throughout an interreligious prayer service in in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in downtown Rome yesterday, removing it only to speak

He had previously only been seen wearing one once before as he entered and exited his car in a Vatican courtyard on September 9

In the past week, 11 Swiss Guards and a resident of the hotel where Francis lives have tested positive.

In Italy, coronavirus cases are surging, with the Lazio region around Vatican City among the hardest hit. 

Lazio has more people hospitalised and in intensive care than any other region except Italy’s most populous and hardest-hit region, Lombardy.

Inside the Vatican auditorium Wednesday, the crowd wore masks as did the Swiss Guards. But Francis and his two aides didn’t.

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