A Catholic bishop condemned a nativity scene that depicts Mary holding Jesus in a rubber boat to symbolize the plight of migrants crossing the Mediterranean.
Italian bishop Ernesto Vecchi said that the nativity featured in the town of Castenaso should not depict Mary or Jesus in a boat, as the manger “is the sign that God as a rich man made himself poor for us, that Christ died on the cross for us and his resurrection is also ours,” according to Il Resto Di Carlino. Vecchi did not take issue with the inclusion of a boat or other symbols of the migrant crisis, but said that replacing the manger with a migrant dinghy robbed the nativity of the focus on the universality of Christ’s salvation.
“I’m not saying a crib cannot be enriched by other elements, and certainly, a boat is a symbol that reminds us of the need for hospitality, but don’t forget that Jesus is the savior of all problems, not just one,” Vecchi said, according to International Business Times.
The mayor of Castenaso, Stefano Sermenghi, commissioned the migrant dinghy Nativity display to symbolize the thousands of migrants who attempt to cross the Mediterranean into Europe and to raise awareness about the dangers they face in the crossing. The International Organization for Migration counts 3,086 migrants that have either died or gone missing in their attempt to cross the Mediterranean in 2017, as of Dec. 3.
Vecchi, nevertheless, stood strong in his condemnation of the display.
“The intentions were good, but woe to us if we deform the image of the nativity scene,” Vecchi told IRDC.
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