Pell blessing in midst of CBD Christmas revival

On Sunday, Sydney's Cardinal George Pell will bless a large Cathedral nativity scene that was commissioned earlier this year after he expressed concern about the gradual removal of Christ from the city and from the central message of Christmas.

CLICK HEREA statement from the Archdiocese says that the project includes a large nativity scene in the forecourt of St Mary's Cathedral. It is being seen as a public statement of the key message of God's gift of his Son to us all.

Cardinal Pell will bless the Nativity scene in the forecourt of St Mary's Cathedral following the 10.30 am Mass this Sunday.

Featuring in the scene are the Holy Family - Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus- the lifesize scene, complete with stable, includes the Gloria Angel, animals - ox and donkey, three sheep and two lambs - and the three shepherds as well as the three wise men. The scene is 8m wide, 5m high and 4m deep.

The practice of erecting mangers was begun by St Francis of Assisi (died 1226) as a means to proclaim the message of Christmas.

Cardinal Pell said: "I would invite all people of goodwill to come and spend some time reflecting on the central role of Jesus in Christmas, to take the time out from Christmas parties, end of school activities and present buying to prepare their hearts for Christmas and the coming again of the Son of God as man."

Apart from the crib, a large, six metre Christmas tree will also be erected in the Cathedral Square.

Christmas at St Mary's Cathedral features a program of music and entertainment around the Nativity Scene in the Cathedral Square.

The Catholic Weekly reported last month that Cathedral dean Fr Neil Brown has had several meetings with the City of Sydney Council, which is spending more than $1.5 million on festive decorations.

"With the crib, the large Christmas tree and the various forms of entertainment it will be the kind of celebration that Christmas has been missing around the Cathedral in a number of years," said Fr Neil.

"In particular, the crib and the Christmas tree will be visible from College St which will catch the attention of many passers-by. With all the festive decorations in and around the Cathedral, I feel this year will be a real festive celebration for the people of Sydney."

Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who was criticised for taking Christ out of Sydney City Christmas celebrations last year, appears to ba making amends. She says this year's decorations will have an emphasis on a Christian message.

"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 also be Christmas trees in Martin Place, and new trees in Pitt St Mall, and beside St Andrew's Cathedral at Sydney Square. Banners are being hung throughout the city and new decorations will be put in Pitt St Mall, on the Sydney Town Hall and on Customs House.

St Mary's Cathedral Nativity Scene to be Blessed this Sunday (Archdiocese of Sydney 2/12/05)
Life-size Nativity scene for cathedral forecourt (Catholic Weekly 20/11/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Sydney | St Mary's Cathedral
City of Sydney | Christmas

Macy's agrees to 'Merry Christmas', national Sears boycott announced (Catholic News Agency 1/12/05)
Frank Devine: God makes a comeback after a generation of neglect (The Australian 2/12/05)
Singing Toward Christmas (Vatican Radio English Features 30/11/05, audio - requires Real Player)
When to Set Up Christmas Decorations (Zenit 29/11/05)
Putting Christ back into Christmas (Archdiocese of Adelaide for 27/11/05)
Welcome return to religion on stamps this Christmas (The Universe 25/11/05)
Christmas Concert Dedicated to Far East Missions (Zenit 25/11/05)
Prepare your hearts for Christmas (Catholic Weekly 27/11/05)

2 Dec 2005