Adelaide Archbishop puts Christ back into Christmas

As part of his personal mission to restore Jesus as the central figure in Christmas celebrations, Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson yesterday blessed replicas of the baby Jesus for children to place in their nativities.

Children from across Adelaide Catholic parishes and schools attended a special ceremony aimed at re-discovering Jesus at Christmas celebrations at St Francis Xavier's Cathedral in Adelaide.

Archbishop Wilson invited the children to bring their nativity scenes - Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph in a stable - and during the ceremony he will issue a special blessing over each child's baby Jesus.

"This is a wonderful tradition reminding children and parents during the hectic Christmas period of the significant message of hope, peace, tolerance and forgiveness in the story of God incarnate in a baby born to a poor couple sheltering in a stable," said Archbishop Wilson.

Archbishop Wilson three years ago imported to Adelaide the 20-year-old tradition instituted by the late Pope John Paul II to remind children that it is the birth of Christ they should be celebrating at Christmas. Each year since the 1980s, Pope John Paul called on children from across Italy to bring their nativity scenes to St Peter's Square, in Rome, for a special blessing.

Meanwhile Pope Benedict XVI has recognised four South Australian lay people and three priests of the Archdiocese of Adelaide for their exemplary service and commitment to the Catholic Church.

Adelaide Wilson today announced the papal honour of Dame of the order of St Gregory the Great has been conferred by the Pope upon Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue, Dawn Cleary and Patricia Hehir. The papal honour of Knight of the order of St Gregory the Great has been given to Adelaide doctor Edward Cleary.

Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue AC, CBE has been recognised for her distinguished leadership of the Aboriginal community, her compassion and care for the most vulnerable in our society and her example of Christian love and mercy despite having been forcibly removed from her mother at a young age.

The Papal honour of Chaplain to His Holiness has been conferred by the Pope upon Fr John Swann, Fr Robert Rice and Fr Minh Tam Nguyen. The honorary titles will elevate the priests to Reverend Monsignor - a rank shared by seven clergy belonging to the Adelaide Archdiocese.

Archbishop Wilson said: "I am thrilled that the Holy Father has seen fit to grant these honours. They are recognition of the faithful service of these men and women in the life of the Archdiocese and an honour reflecting the entire Catholic community of Adelaide."

Putting Christ back into Christmas (Archdiocese of Adelaide for 27/11/05)
Pope honours 7 South Australians (Archdiocese of Adelaide for 28/11/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Adelaide

Welcome return to religion on stamps this Christmas (The Universe 25/11/05)
Christmas Concert Dedicated to Far East Missions (Zenit 25/11/05)
Condom campaign costs Brazilian singer pope gig (Reuters 23/11/05)
Prepare for Advent, Christmas with 'spiritual fervor,' pope says (Catholic News Service 23/11/05)
Vatican Christmas concert will highlight Church universality, honor east Asian missions (Catholic News Agency 24/11/05)
Prepare your hearts for Christmas (Catholic Weekly 27/11/05)

28 Nov 2005