Welcome to this week’s installment of “Ask the Caffeinated Catholic Mama!” This letter comes from Amy in Alberta Canada:
I almost emailed you a question yesterday for today’s “ask CCM” and then my baby needed some attention and I forgot about it till I read your post saying you didn’t get any questions. Darn!
Anyways, I love reading your blog. I too am a Caffeinated Catholic Mama… (love coffee!)breastfeeder, cloth diaperer, co-sleeper, gentle parenting, etc…
My question for you comes from the idea of breastfeeding during mass. I personally nurse my baby in mass when I need to but have to say that I feel very uncomfortable doing so. I have a lot of friends who nurse their babies but they either completely cover themselves and baby (even in terribly hot weather) or go hide in the confessional or on the balcony, etc. or… make the baby wait till mass is over while they cry in the back :(…There is some idea that breastfeeding is somehow scandalous or innapropriate for mass. I pipe in where I believe it’s appropriate but have been feeling lately like I wish the church would address this issue directly. I know all about our rights to nurse our babies anytime and anywhere and I have read a lot about how seeing women nurse their babies helps remove some of our wounded and over-sexualized views of breasts and women in general. I personaly believe it would be very healing for our society to see more babies nursed at the breast. It seems in my little community anyways, there is an idea that even though we have a right to breastfeed our babies any time or anywhere, that we “should” go somewhere else to do it. I have thought about writing a letter to our bishop to ask him if he would consider addressing the issue but I’m not sure if that’s appropriate. Even something as simple as a note in the bulletin or a little sign on the door would be helpful, I think. Have you heard of any churches addressing this directly or do you know of any specific church teaching on this subject?
Thanks for writing and reading Amy! You know, I never really thought about breastfeeding during Mass… it’s something that I have just always done. So, I asked some of my ladies about it and I was surprised to find out that at my parish those same feelings of discomfort you’ve mentioned are felt by some. In fact, at least two ladies and their babies have been asked to nurse somewhere else in the church during Mass.
This, of course, makes the CCM sad and I decided to do something. First, I contacted our Parish Pastor to find out if there is a breastfeeding policy in place. Our priests are pretty techno-saavy so I emailed him and I heard back that same day. As it turns out, there is not a parish policy in place and this was the first time in 36 years that he’d ever had to address the issue of breastfeeding in Mass. He was going to find out what the Archdiocesan policy was, if there was one. A few days later, I heard back from Monsignor, letting me know that there is no policy in the Archdiocese and that the question is headed to the Parish Council.
So, that’s where our parish stands on the topic of breastfeeding during Mass. It’s tough because we have to remember that it is not our will but God’s will. But considering that Jesus was breastfed, I am praying for a policy that works for all.
In short, to answer your question: Scripture is supportive of breastfeeding as it was the norm of the time. Before going to your Bishop, I would first talk to your pastor. Find out if your Parish has a policy in place. If not, find out if your Archdiocese has anything in place and go from there.
Keep in mind that this is not just a breastfeeding advocacy issue, but it is about making everyone feel comfortable in Mass. That thought might be the hardest one to convey as society tends to yield to the comfort of the masses rather than that of the singular. Pray about this. Pray that all view points can been seen and considered.
Thanks for your letter, Amy!
Luke 11:27-28 (New International Version)
27As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
28He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
“…[Breastfeeding] benefits the child and helps to create the closeness and maternal bonding so necessary for healthy child development. So human and natural is this bond that the Psalms use the image of the infant at its mother’s breast as a picture of God’s care for man…”
– Pope John Paul II
Every Tuesday is “Ask CCM Tuesday!” If you have questions about Catholicism, conversion, RCIA, Natural Family Planning, Breastfeeding, Cloth Diapering, Frugal Living, Knitting, Crochet, Biology, Forensic Science, Marriage, Parenting, Gentle Discipline, etc., etc., please send me an email at:
CaffeinatedCatholicMama (at) gmail (dot) com
In your email, please include your first name and your location and let me know if you want your name withheld when I answer your question on the blog.
I have no prizes to offer for your questions other than the knowledge that you might be helping others with their questions!