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    » 12/12/2004, 00.00


    The crèche is a sign of culture and faith, Pope says

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) – For John Paul II, the crèche still matters. Speaking before the Angelus, the Pope said that the scene of the Nativity of Jesus was not only "part of our culture and art but also a sign of faith in God who, in Bethlehem, "made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14).

    Boys and girls attended the traditional blessing in St Peter's Square of the statue of the 'Bambinello', of the Baby Jesus, that will be placed in the crèche.

    In recent days, the decision taken in some schools not to set up the crèche out of respect for non Catholic pupils, especially Muslim pupils, has been front-page news. In the ensuing debate, many Muslims said they were in favour of the crèche since Islam considers Jesus a prophet. Church leaders intervened saying that those who want to remove the crèche from schools are not motivated by respect for Muslims but by secularist ideas, confusing tolerance with intellectual relativism.

    Here are the Pope's remarks before the Marian prayer:

    "Christmas is upon us and in many places people are setting up a crèche, like here in St Peter's. Whether big or small, fancy or simple, the crèche is a familiar and expressive representation of Christmas. It is part of our culture and art but especially a sign of faith in God who "made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14) in Bethlehem."

    "As I do every year, I shall bless the 'Bambinelli', the statues of Baby Jesus, which will be placed in the crèche on Holy Night, joining Joseph and Mary, who are silent witnesses of a sublime mystery."

    "With loving eyes, they tell us to wait and pray in order to welcome the Divine Saviour who is coming to bring the world the joy of Christmas."

    "This joy invites us to enjoy today, the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday [i.e. the Sunday of rejoicing]."

    "Let us call on the Virgin to kindle during this period of waiting the desire in Christians and people of good will to meet the Lord, who is so near us."

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    See also

    19/12/2004 VATICAN
    May the Christmas tree teach us to give ourselves, says the Pope

    Pontiff lovingly greets 32 children who survived the Beslan school massacre.

    21/12/2003 Vatican
    Pope: Christmas is time of humility, silence, wonder, joy

    28/12/2003 Vatican
    Pope prays and seeks help for Iran's earthquake victims

    03/08/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: best wishes for Beijing Games; remembrance of Paul VI
    Benedict XVI hopes that the Beijing Olympics may be a "pledge of fraternity and peace among peoples", and may unfold "in respect of common dignity". Remembrance of the "superhuman merit" of Paul VI, for guiding the Church in the difficult post-council phase.

    18/11/2004 VATICAN - AZERBAIJAN
    No to religion used as an instrument of death, the Pope says
    John Paul II meets Muslim, Orthodox and Jewish leaders from Azerbaijan. Tolerance is possible; it is a sign of cultural progress.

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