Faith Matters

The family is at the heart of passing on faith, urges Pope

Pope Francis, who baptised children in the Sistine Chapel this week, has encouraged parents to make sure the "language of love" is spoken at home. Picture by L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP

POPE Francis baptised 34 babies in the Sistine Chapel this week, encouraging their parents to make sure the "language of love" is spoken at home.

With Michelangelo's famed frescoes on the ceiling overhead, the parents, some with other young children in tow, brought 18 girls and 16 boys forward to Francis on Sunday in the annual ceremony.

The Pope, who is expected to visit Ireland in August during the World Meeting of Families, then made the sign of the cross on the forehead of each child, and helped siblings do the same to their younger brother or sister.

He also recited the name of each child and poured baptismal water over each baby's head.

Many of the parents of the baptised babies are Vatican employees.

With the ceremony scheduled to last more than two hours, Francis told mothers not to be afraid to breastfeed their babies.

"If they start performing a concert by crying, or if they are uncomfortable or too warm or don't feel at ease or are hungry, breastfeed them," he said.

"Don't be afraid, feed them, because this too is the language of love."

Some babies slept, others cooed, and at least one mother gave her baby a bottle of milk.

Parents juggled prayer books and dummies as they listened to the Pope deliver his homily, which he kept short and unscripted.

Francis told the parents they are tasked with passing on their Catholic faith to their children, stressing that the family is where that should happen.

"The transmission of faith happens only through dialect, in the dialect of the family, in the dialect of papa and mamma, grandpa and grandma," Francis said.

"If the dialect is lacking, if in the home the parents don't speak that language of love between the two of them, this transmission won't be so easy, it can't be done."

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