Pell says Virgin Birth no legend
Sydney's Cardinal George Pell has vehemently disagreed with the worldwide Anglican head, who has said Christians don't need to believe Christ was born of a virgin.
The Australian reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams implied in a BBC interview that the story of the three wise men is a legend, as "stars do not behave like that."
Furthermore, Archishop Williams added it was unlikely Jesus was born in December and Christians can "take or leave the virgin birth."
"I believe it (the virgin birth) but that's not a pre-condition for being a Christian," Archbishop Williams said.
"Matthew's Gospel says they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that's all we're really told.
"It is unlikely Jesus was born in December at all. Christmas was when it was because it fitted well with the winter festival," he said.
Opposing the Anglican Archbishop's comments, Cardinal Pell said those who doubt or deny the virgin birth are departing from Christian teaching.
"What is important is that the Christ child was and is the son of God," Pell said.
"For this belief and fact, the virgin birth is essential."
South Sydney Anglican Bishop Robert Forsyth sided with the Archbishop of Canterbury saying Jesus' birthday was "probably March as the Holy Land is very cold in December and if there were the shepherds in the field, it is likely to have been another time of year."
"(The virgin birth) is not the first thing you have to believe to become a Christian - the resurrection is that. If you believe God raised Jesus from the dead, you are open to the questions like the virgin birth."
Three wise men leading us astray (The Australian, 21/12/07)
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Archbishop of Canterbury
21 Dec 2007