Sydney City change of heart to put Christ back into Christmas
Christ will be put back into Christmas this year with the City of Sydney Council to spend more than $1.5 million on festive decorations.
The Catholic Weekly reports that Lord Mayor Clover Moore says this year's decorations will have an emphasis on a "Christian message".
Last year, Ms Moore came under heavy attack for Sydney's lack of festive decorations and her comment that the city had more than 200 nationalities, not all Christian.
"Christmas in Sydney should have an Australian theme and a Christian message," she said. "It is a spiritual and religious festival and the real importance of the season is generating peace and goodwill and caring about everyone in our community."
There will be Christmas trees in Martin Place, and new trees in Pitt St Mall, St Mary's Cathedral forecourt and beside St Andrew's Cathedral at Sydney Square.
Banners will also be hung throughout the city and new decorations will be put in Pitt St Mall, on the Sydney Town Hall and Customs House.
The towering brickpit chimneys at Sydney Park at St Peters will be decorated and fairy lights will be strung in trees in city parks.
"We have discussed Christmas-based entertainment with St Mary's and St Andrew's cathedrals, to take place in St Mary's forecourt and Sydney Square respectively," Ms Moore said.
Cathedral dean Fr Neil Brown says a large crib will be on display at St Mary's, with entertainment to include school choirs and various other functions in the cathedral square.
"There will be a more Christmas feel around Sydney this year and Clover Moore should be congratulated for her initiative," he said.
"We have had several meetings with the City of Sydney Council looking at ways to utilise the surrounds around the cathedral to promote the message of Christmas in the future."
Representatives from the Jewish and Muslim communities have acknowledged that Christmas is a universally recognised holiday that should be celebrated.
David Knoll, president of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, said: "Far from having any objections to Christmas decorations in our cities, the Jewish community wishes our Christian brothers and sisters well with their festivities.
Melbourne City Council had been heavily criticised by Christians in recent years for failing to display a nativity scene, which they described as pandering to political correctness.
Last December, the Catholic Youth Ministry called a choral protest outside Melbourne Town Hall, including a live nativity scene. But the 200-strong protest was defused when Lord Mayor John So joined in the singing and vowed to work with the Churches.
Catholic auxiliary bishop Christopher Prowse said the Church is delighted that Melbourne City Council has returned Christ to Christmas.
"We know that it's linked up with the constructive recommendations we made to the city council last year and we're delighted that there was a follow through," he said.
Council moves to put 'Christ back into Christmas' (Catholic Weekly 25/9/05)
26 Sep 2005