During his 19th visit to a Roman parish since the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis described the ban on crèches in public places as “stupidity.”
When he can, about once a month, the Argentine pontiff visits a parish in Rome, the city of which he is the bishop. On April 7, 2019, he went to Monteverde Parish in San Giulio, in the western part of the Italian capital.
Meeting a group of faithful responsible for the living nativity scene of the parish, the Holy Father, wanting to chat, talked about an incident that took place, he said, “in 2017, in a very secular European country.”
A town official had decided to set up a crèche in his town hall: “He thought of the crib as a symbol that goes beyond religion, as a cultural symbol. And people were happy because they do not have this foolish way of thinking that since a country is secular, no one can set up crèches,” said the pope.
But, continues the successor of Peter, “the news came to the prefect of the region of this country, who got angry, because what the mayor had done was against the secular state.”
At the end of his speech, the Pope announced that a week dedicated to crèches would be set up this year. This initiative will be promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, with the objective “to encourage the setting up of a crèche at home or in the squares.”
The debate about crèches in public places is particularly sensitive in France, to which the pope was referring without naming it, a country which, faced with the demands of a conquering Islam, has not stopped invoking secularism to reject any manifestation of religion in the public space.
Return to Saint Pius X
While Pope Francis is taking a stand at the cultural level to defend the presence of crèches or religious manifestations in the public space, Pope St. Pius X attacked the very ideology of secularism by judging it as primarily insulting to God and the true religion.
He denounced the errors and contradictions in his encyclical Vehementer Nos, February 11, 1906, which was a response to the 1905 law of separation, and the rupture of the concordat by the French Republic:
“Based, as it is, on the principle that the State must not recognize any religious cult, [secularism] firstly is guilty of a great injustice to God; for the Creator of man is also the founder of human societies, and keep them in their existence as He preserves us. We owe Him, therefore, not only a private cult, but a public and social worship to honor Him.”
“Besides, this thesis is an obvious negation of the supernatural order. It limits the action of the State to the pursuit of public prosperity during this life only, which is but the proximate object of political societies; and it occupies itself in no fashion (on the plea that this is foreign to it) with their ultimate object which is man's eternal happiness after this short life shall have run its course.”