To ban nativity scenes in public places and schools in the name of respect towards other religions, and in the name of tolerance, “would be a deviant concept of what respect and tolerance are,” says Italian Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
The cardinal stated this during a press conference held annually with journalists. Moreover, he described the idea of banning the setting up of Cribs in public places and schools as “an act of cultural myopia.”
As happens every year, there are those who call for the abolition of religious symbols in the name of a misunderstood concept of laicism, which is confused with secularism. In fact, the nativity speaks of peace, of love among men and of hope.
While laicism is the healthy separation between the Church and State, allowing the autonomy of each one, secularism is hostility towards religion.
“If we go to other countries with different cultural traditions, it would not occur to anyone to feel offended, in face of religious and cultural symbols or the traditions of different continents. I think this is a deviant concept of respect and tolerance,” explained the president of the Italian Bishops.
According to Cardinal Bagnasco, “integration does not mean obliterating identity and faces, but [rather] mutual knowledge, appreciation and understanding.”
However, he clarified, “I am not saying that it means immediate acceptance of the symbols and traditions.”
The cardinal concluded by recalling what he wrote in the Christmas letter to the catechism children of the Diocese of Genoa. “I told them that they should be a smile for their families, for their parents, in their school and in their environments of life,” he said.