Italy: Opposition to withdrawal of the Nativity scene in schools

Source: FSSPX News


Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar of the diocese of Rome and president of the Conference of Italian Bishops, has called on all Italians to oppose the withdrawal of Nativity scene in schools, on the pretext of respecting the “sensibilities” of immigrants of different faiths and cultures. He was interviewed on national television which transmitted live the traditional pilgrimage of the pope to the statue of the Immaculate Conception, in the heart of Rome on December 8.

 “I take the liberty to appeal to all Italians not to accept these decisions,” said Cardinal Ruini. “It has gone too far, and we are not fully aware of what is happening,” the prelate replied to a question from a journalist wanting to know if the removal of Nativity scene from schools and the idea replacing the baby Jesus with Little Red Riding Hood was not inappropriate. “These facts may appear minimal, but the underlying spirit is bad and the consequences for our children have to be evaluated”, he added. “Our Christian tradition is a tradition of goodness and of truth; with all due respect to others, only Christ has given us the true sense of human existence.”

 The controversy had begun a week earlier, in an Italian primary school, where a Christmas carol had been modified for two Muslim children, “Jesus” becoming “virtue”. Likewise, many Italian schools have abandoned the crib and Christmas carols, out of respect for the children of other religious traditions. In one of them the Christmas story had been replaced by Little Red Riding Hood.

 Furthermore, the Secretary of the Council for the Pastoral Care of Immigrants, Mgr. Marchetto said: “One takes advantage of plurality in order to eliminate what one already wished to banish previously,” condemning the “secularist” ideology. “The reality of secularization is imposing itself in Italy and in the world,” he said . We are in “a context of secularization and of insensitivity to the Christian reality”. “In Italy it is traditional to have a Nativity scene in schools (…). The question of immigration and respect of others is used as an excuse to impose an ideology already well established in peoples’ minds: a certain vision of society, secularization,” said the prelate. “Secularity is one thing, secularization is another,” he pointed out, condemning “overzealousness” taken as far as the removal of religious signs from the public sphere.

 In his view, the question is “not a neutral one”, and the Nativity scene is “one example which has provoked a healthy reaction.” It raises the problem, of knowing how “to respond to a different identity presence, without abandoning our own identity”. It is “not only a question of the identity of those arriving here, but also the perception of our own identity and the means of keeping it. According to the Italian archbishop, those who wish to remove all identifying signs which differentiate us from other cultures, are making an “error”. “We have the right to be ourselves,” he said. “We must come to an agreement about respect for persons who are coming into the country and those who are already here. In our identity, there is a cultural aspect which has to be considered.”

 “Nativity scenes are a sign of faith,” recalled John Paul II, on Sunday December 12, during the Angelus in St Peter’s Square. The pope, emphasizing that the feast of Christmas was approaching and that in many places cribs were being prepared, he said that the latter was indeed “an element of culture and art, but above all, it was a sign of faith in God. Small or large, simple or elaborate, the crib constitutes a familiar representation, but one which is very expressive of Christmas”.

 Blessing the figurines of the infant Jesus which many children, gathered in St. Peter’s square, were holding, and which they would place in their crib on Christmas night, the pope did not make direct reference to the recent controversy. Like every year since 1982, St. Peter’s square was decorated with a large Nativity scene, whose construction was still under way.

 About a dozen workmen hidden behind a palisade were working on it. They were not due to unveil their masterpiece until after midnight Mass.