Islam

Italian priest nixes Nativity scene to avoid offending Muslims

A priest canceled a planned nativity display claiming it could offend other faiths.

A priest canceled a planned nativity display claiming it could offend other faiths.  (REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo, File)

An Italian priest has decided to break with tradition and not set up a Nativity scene in his town’s cemetery this Christmas -- in order to avoid offending Muslims, Milan’s Corriere della Sera reported on Friday.

Father Sante Braggie, chaplain of the Municipal Cemetery of Cremona and curate of the local parish in Northern Italy, said the display was typically set up within eyesight of a “small corner of the cemetery” that was “reserved for Muslim graves.”

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“A crib positioned within sight of them could be seen as a lack of respect for followers of other faiths, hurt the sensibilities of Muslims, as well as Indians and even atheists,” Braggie said, according to a translation published in Express. “In short, it would be a mess.”

Braggie’s predecessor, Father Oreste Mori, was incredulous.

“Seriously? I can’t believe it,” Mori said. “We cannot renounce our culture and traditions. That would be an unpardonable weakness.”

Local lawmaker Cristina Cappellini was among the town councilors urging Braggie to reinstate the Nativity scene as a symbol “of our culture, of our traditions, of our Christian identity.”

Said Mori: “I am, for the time being at least, in Italy, not Saudi Arabia.”