ROME — Pope Francis told the parents of young children about to be baptized Sunday to let the infants cry in church since that noise is a “beautiful sermon.”
On the Catholic feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which commemorates Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River by His cousin, St. John the Baptist, the pope baptized 32 children in the Sistine Chapel. All the infants were born during the past year to families of Vatican employees and diplomats accredited to the Holy See.
“Like Jesus who went to be baptized, so you bring your children,” Francis said, calling the sacrament of Baptism “an act of justice” for a child.
“And why? Because in Baptism we give him or her a treasure, we give them a pledge: the Holy Spirit,” he said. “The child emerges bearing the strength of the Spirit within: the Spirit that will defend him, help him, throughout his life.”
“That is why it is so important to baptize them as children, so that they may grow up with the strength of the Holy Spirit,” the pontiff said. “That is the message I would like to give you today. You bring your children today, so that they may have the Holy Spirit within them. And take care that they grow with light, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, through catechesis, assistance, teaching, the example you will give at home.”
As he has done other years, the pope concluded by telling parents not to worry if their children cry during the ceremony and inviting the mothers to nurse their children if they want to.
“Children are not used to coming to the Sistine, it’s the first time! They are not used to being closed in an environment that is a little warm. And they’re not used to being dressed like that, for a feast as beautiful as today’s,” he said.
“They will feel a little uncomfortable at some point. And one will start to cry… followed by another,” he said.
“Don’t worry, let the children cry and scream,” Francis continued. “If your child cries and complains, maybe it’s because he is too hot: take something off; or because he’s hungry: nurse him, here, yes, in peace.”
“A child crying in church is a beautiful sermon,” he said. “Make sure he feels good and move on.”