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Church reaction to 'Nativity' featuring Kylie and the Beckhams

Church leaders in the UK united yesterday to condemn a Christmas Nativity tableau depicting soccer star David Beckham as Joseph and his pop singer wife Victoria as the Virgin Mary.

Anglicans, Catholics and Presbyterians called the exhibit at Madame Tussaud's waxwork museum in London a new low in the cult of celebrity worship.

In the tableau, Australian pop star Kylie Minogue hovers above the crib as an angel while "Posh Spice" Victoria lays her shawled head tenderly on Beckham's shoulder.

Tony Blair, George W. Bush and the Duke of Edinburgh star as The Three Wise Men. The shepherds are played by Hollywood star Samuel L. Jackson, British actor Hugh Grant and camp Irish comedian Graham Norton.

"This is worse than bad taste. It is cheap," an official Vatican source told Reuters in Rome. "You cannot use contemporary personalities as the central figures of the Nativity ... And it becomes worse, if that were possible, if the people may be of questionable moral standing," he added.

In a separate development from Australia, a dispute has broken out over Brumby's bakery's latest television campaign, which depicts nuns singing the praises of their bread products.

In the offending commercial, a choir - including habit-wearing nuns - sing "Give us this day our daily bread" as they sing and dance around Brumby's products.

Brumby's managing director Michael Sherlock said Missionary Sisters of Service nun Sr Marcia McMahon had complained to the Advertising Standards Bureau, saying the ad was offensive and made a mockery of the Celebration of the Eucharist.

"We can see their point, but we're not denigrating (nuns) in any way," he said. "It's working well for us. We've examined it to see if there is any offence and we're satisfied it doesn't. Now we'll just wait for the bureau's report."

Church shock at Beckham 'Nativity (Reuters/CNN 8/12/04)
All hell breaks loose as nuns shake their buns (The Courier Mail 9/12/04)

Madame Tussauds London
Brumby's Bakery
Advertising Standards Bureau

Crucifix fashion makes Pope cross (CathNews 23/5/02)

Commercialism buries the spirit of Christmas (Catholic Weekly 12/12/04)
Waxworks' nativity angers churches (The Australian 8/12/04)
Church fury at nativity Beckhams (Evening Standarad 8/12/04)

9 Dec 2004