“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to men of good will.” (Luke 2:14)
It was on Christmas Eve 800 years ago when St. Francis of Assisi, in a cave near Greccio, Italy, created the first ever live Nativity scene. It is believed that his inspiration to do a live representation of the birth of Jesus came from his stay in the Holy Land in the years 1219 and 1220. Seeing firsthand the holy sites of our Savior’s birth, life, death, and Resurrection made them feel all the more real—and he wanted to recreate that experience.
“We can still identify ourselves,” said Benedict XVI, “with the shepherds of Bethlehem who hastened to the grotto as soon as they had received the Angel’s announcement and found ‘Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in the manger’” (Luke 2:16). Regrettably, the mystery of Christ’s birth has not only been tarnished by the spirit of relativism in which secularism has turned Christmas into a Happy Holidays festivity, it is as if Herod finally accomplished to “kill the Child” born in Bethlehem.
In my city of residence, Florence, on the steps of the Basilica Church of San Lorenzo, which is one of the oldest churches in our archdiocese—it was consecrated in A.D. 393—there is a Nativity scene called “Il Presepio delle Bambine” (The Crèche of the Baby Girls). In it there are a total of 24 baby girls wrapped in swaddling clothes and given the name of “Andrea”—a male and female name so as to not discriminate their gender.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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The goal of this manger scene, as per the posted explanation, is
to defend that right of all female babies and women of the world—regardless their cultural background—to live in a safe world that respects their dignity and rights, thus celebrating, once more, the birth of a renewed culture of welcoming and of peace.
The ultimate sacrilege is the deafening silence of Church officials with other like-minded projects that both undermine Christ and His Church, such as the tacit acceptance of works that instigate hedonism.
A case in point: last week, as I entered the illustrious Catholic Pauline Bookstore in Florence, on one of its shelves was the “Queer Bible” (Bibbia Queer in Italian). Originally written in English, this publication speaks of the
construction of gender and sexuality, the reification of heterosexuality, the question of lesbian and gay ancestry within the Bible, the transgendered voices of the prophets, the use of the Bible in contemporary political, socio-economic and religious spheres and the impact upon lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
What was shocking was that a blasphemous book such as this is being sold in Catholic bookstores, including the Pontifical Lateran University bookshop. To make matters worse, when I began to complain to the management of the bookstore, they not only defended their selling of the Bibbia Queer, but they took personal offence that I raised a complaint in the first place.
Like the “Crèche of the Baby Girls,” a new theology of sexual disorientation supersedes that of the natural order of things as the Christ child revealed. Yet the ultimate disappointing and frustrating part to all of this is the absence of many of today’s shepherds to confront such blasphemous acts. This is reflective of what the Lord said during His trial before Pontius Pilate: “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders” (John 18:36).
It would have been an altogether different response had it been an attack on Islam! One could imagine how Muslims would have collectively come together in defense of their religion had it been the “Queer Quran.”
Perhaps, and unfortunately, one should not be all that surprised given the manner in which the Synod in Rome is being carried out by some. We recall this past November when, in light of the Synod, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith published a document, which read:
A transsexual—who has also undergone hormonal treatment and sex reassignment surgery—can receive baptism, under the same conditions as other believers, if there are no situations in which there is a risk of generating public scandal or disorientation in the faithful. In the case of children or adolescents with transsexual problems, if well prepared and willing, they can receive Baptism.
As Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke wrote in the preface to The Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box: 100 Questions and Answers:
Synodality and its adjective, synodal, have become slogans behind which a revolution is at work to change radically the Church’s self-understanding, in accord with a contemporary ideology which denies much of what the Church has always taught and practiced.
This past week, the Holy See published its Declaration of Fiducia Supplicans—On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings, which encourages, if not compels, priests to grant formal blessings to “same-sex” couples so as to not prevent their drawing closer to God. The oxymoron to this is that “same-sex” couples who present themselves as such do not seek conversion but, rather, an endorsement of their public lifestyle that God has forbidden, which the non-liturgical blessing called for in the Declaration—every blessing is a liturgical one—validates.
We have come a long way since that Christmas Eve 800 years ago—to the point that St. Francis would roll over in his grave.
Nevertheless, we should not be discouraged. Christ has already won the victory for us with His Passion, death, and Resurrection. We must not just be like the shepherds who went in haste to see the newborn king; we must be like St. Joseph, who, in order to protect his family, took “the Child and His mother and fle[d] to Egypt” (Matthew 2:13).