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Abandoned newborn found in swaddling clothes in NYC church's nativity scene

A custodian at a New York City church was sweeping up when the baby Jesus in a nearby nativity scene seemed to come alive.

Jose Moran, a janitor at the Holy Child Jesus Church in Queens, said he had just gotten back from lunch when he heard a child crying. Thinking it was a mother with a child he went back to work before realizing that there was no other adult in the church.

"I looked around and didn’t see anyone," Moran told the New York Daily News. "That got me curious. I followed the cries. I walked to the little nativity home we had installed inside the church ... I couldn’t believe my eyes. The baby was wrapped in towels. He still had his umbilical cord. He was next to the Virgin [Mary]."

Church pastor Christopher Heanue wrote on the church's Facebook page that the newborn was a boy and weighed a little more than 5 pounds.

Emergency crews brought the newborn to a local hospital, where he was in good health.

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"At least whoever abandoned him brought him to a safe place and didn’t leave him to die," Moran said.

New York has a so-called safe haven law that says a newborn can be dropped off anonymously at a church, hospital, police or fire station without fear of prosecution. But the law, also known as the Abandoned Infant Protection Act, requires that the child be left with someone or for authorities to be called immediately. Police said that neither of those happened in this case, which has led investigators to begin searching for the person who dropped the child at the church.

Officers canvassed the neighborhood around the church on Tuesday, looking for surveillance cameras that may might have recorded something police can use. Authorities said they were also questioning people in the neighborhood to try to track down the baby's mother.

"Let us pray for this child," Heanue wrote, "for his parents and for whomever will receive him into their home."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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