Church hails Howard call for more cribs

While some religious leaders have reacted skeptically to the Prime Minister's call for nativity scenes in department stores, Catholic Bishops Conference General Secretary Fr Brian Lucas has supported his comments.

CLICK HEREThe Australian reports that Mr Howard said at the weekend that more department stores should have the courage to display nativity scenes as well as Christmas trees. He was concerned some cities were "toning down" their Christmas celebrations out of fear of offending minority religions.

Fr Lucas said he supported Mr Howard's call, after Sydney Archbishop George Pell urged more nativity scenes earlier this month.

"It's hypocritical to cash in on the commercialisation of gift-giving while ignoring the origins of gift-giving in the original Christmas story as embodied in the nativity scene," he said.

But other religious leaders have called on Mr Howard to do more to promote peace and tolerance at Christmas.

Uniting Church president Dean Drayton said he did not see "any attempt to restrict the symbols of Christmas".

Mr Howard's call for more nativity scenes "seems to miss the major point of putting the Christ back into Christmas. The critical way for us to do that is to take seriously Christ the prince of peace," Dr Drayton said.

Islamic community spokesman Kuranda Seyit called for Mr Howard to condemn attacks on people of ethnic appearance as racial violence.

"What John Howard should be doing is promoting the spiritual aspect of Christmas rather than the external signs. They're good reminders, but they don't call people to issues of tolerance," said Mr Seyit, executive director of the Forum on Australian's Islamic Relations.

"Jesus is a person of Middle Eastern origin who turned the other cheek, never resorted to violence and promoted tolerance and love.

Labor leader Kim Beazley said yesterday the biggest threat to Christmas was the Government's workplace relations changes.

"If we have any sort of economic downturn, people are going to be losing their penalty rates, and they're going to feel embarrassed when they go and ask their bosses for Christmas off and they've got no legal protections," Mr Beazley said.

PM's call for cribs is met with calls for action (The Australian 19/12/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Transcript of the Prime Minister Hon John Howard MP Doorstp INterview, Exodus Foundation, Sydney

Bring back Christmas (Sunday Herald Sun 18/12/05)
PM calls for Jesus in shopping centres (news.com.au/Australian Associated Press 18/12/05)
New laws biggest Xmas threat: Beazley (National Nine News/Australian Associated Press 18/12/05)

Christmas Message - 2005 Archbishop Denis Hart (Archdiocese of Melbourne)
Pope: St Joseph's silence counters "too noisy" world (AsiaNews.it 17/12/05)
Some on Hill want to 'save' Christmas, but others fight for the poor (Catholic News Service 16/12/05)
Christmas tree illuminated in St. Peter's Square (Catholic World News 16/12/05)
Elizabeth Harrington: 'Emmanuel': God Is With Us (Liturgy Lines / The Liturgical Commission 25/12/05)
"Hope conquers terrorism": A Christmas Message by Dr Beverly Zimmerman RSJ in conversation with Bishop Michael Malone (Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle 14/12/05)
Simple Gaudete of a complex believer (The Tablet 17/12/05)
Celebrations to be presided by the Pope during Christmas (Vatican Information Service 15/12/05)
Restoration of Nativity scene by Arnolfo di Cambio (Vatican Information Service 15/12/05)
Christmas of solidarity in Pakistan (AsiaNews.it 15/12/05)
Christmas spirit shines (Catholic Leader 18/12/05)
Brisbane to host Adore congress (Catholic Leader 18/12/05)
Pope Benedict has full calendar of public events for Christmas (Catholic News Service 15/12/05)
Hospital in Bethlehem reaches out to poor mothers (Catholic News Agency 15/12/05)

19 Dec 2005