[NOTE OF CLARIFICATION: While the Holy Father has expressed a fairly clear opinion regarding nursing in church, he has not opined (so far as I know) on the appropriate use of a cry room. He’s only stated that “the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise.”]
One of the most commented posts on this blog was from last September entitled, “Children don’t Belong in a Cry Room, and Neither do You,” in which I stated:
Children belong at Mass. Period. Efforts to remove children for “special liturgies,” “CCD”, “religious ed”, “nursery care” — or whatever else — is not in keeping with the traditions of the Church or its precepts. Loud children and their parents (whose sin is that they have dutifully brought their kids to Mass) should not be relegated to segregated, soundproofed rooms for the convenience and comfort of people who complain about the noise or distraction at the expense of the good of the whole community.
Children have always been, and should always be present at liturgical celebrations. Their presence, especially in overwhelming numbers, is a sign of the great blessings showered by God upon His people. The most joy-filled, spiritually enriching celebrations of the Eucharist that you can find often involve the prominent presence and participation of young people and children. It does not matter if you attend the Mass in the Novus Ordo or the Extraordinary Form, when young people are present, Jesus is happy, because the growth and life of the Church is something that ensures a healthy, dynamic and living faith for future generations.
When our Holy Father told our young people at World Youth Day to go make some noise, he did not also say, “but only in the cry room.”
In response to one commenter who accused me of manipulation, deception and conflation of the topic, I wrote: “Ok, it’s a conflation. Let’s ask Pope Francis where babies belong.”
Now we’re closer to knowing, because this past Sunday, in connection with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Pope Francis repeated the tradition of baptizing babies in the Sistine Chapel. The Pope invited 32 babies to be baptized in one of the holiest places in all of Christendom, in the very room (frescoed by Renaissance master Michaelangelo) where the Pope himself was elected.
Did Pope Francis suggest that babies who were loud or disruptive should be removed to the Sistine Chapel Cry Room? [Hint: there isn’t one.]
Instead, he invited mothers to nurse their babies. In the Sistine Chapel! The Pope told mothers to have “no qualms about breast-feeding them there.” (These words in quotes are not attributed to Pope Francis, but the writer of the linked article). In his 300-word homily, the Holy Father was quoted: “Today the choir will sing but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise. Some will cry because they are not comfortable or because they are hungry,” he said. “If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice. Because they are the most important people here…”
According to the Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff, Servant of the Servants of God, His Holiness Pope Francis, the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of infants who make noise. Of course, this should not be a surprise, in light of Our Lord’s own words, to “Let the children come to me, do not prevent them.”
Case closed, says Quartermaster (and those who agree). Children don’t belong in Cry Rooms, and neither do you!
Pastors, in light of the Holy Father’s words, perhaps if you have a Cry Room but not an Adoration Chapel, you should make the change to something more… Catholic!
[RELATED FOLLOWUP POST: For Anyone who objects to Nursing Mothers in Church…]