A priest in Italy has caused uproar after announcing there would be no Christmas nativity scene at the local cemetery this year because it could offend Muslims and atheists.
Fr Sante Braggiè said there would be no crib in the cemetery in the northern city of Cremona because it may anger people of others faiths or none whose relatives are buried there.
“A small corner of the cemetery is reserved for Muslim graves,” Fr Braggiè said. “A crib positioned within sight of them could be seen as a lack of respect for followers of other faiths, hurt the sensibilities of Muslims, as well as Indians and even atheists.”
He also cited a lack of council workers to set up the crib as another reason for abandoning the tradition.
Corriere della Serra reports that Fr Braggiè’s predecessor as local priest, Fr Oreste Mori, strongly criticised the decision, saying: “Seriously? I can’t believe it!”
“We cannot renounce our culture and traditions,” he said. “That would be an unpardonable weakness.”
“I am, for the time being at least, in Italy, not Saudi Arabia.”
Cremona has been one of the many cities in Italy to bear the brunt of Europe’s ongoing migrant crisis, resettling thousands of migrants in the past few years.
The decision has also been criticised by local politicians, including regional councillor Cristina Cappellini. La Repubblica quotes her as saying: “I hope Fr Braggiè changes his mind and apologises to the community.”
The local chief of the conservative Lega Nord, Pietro Burgazzi, also said: “I hope the decision not to put up a crib was not ideological, but hearing the criticisms it seems that it was.
“I want to stress the importance of the Christmas crib as a sign of Christian witness, which is always appreciated by the people of Cremona.”