“Safeguard and protect what are ultimately our cultural roots which have a very high example in the nativity scene”. This is the objective of the proposed law Fdi senator Lavinia Mennuni which, as soon as it was presented, triggered reactions and controversies.

“For some years we have been witnessing unacceptable and embarrassing decisions by some school bodies which ban the nativity scene in schools, or modify its profound essence, for example changing the Christmas celebration into unlikely winter holidays so as not to offend believers of other religions . With the bill that I presented and which was signed by many parliamentarians, it will no longer be possible to cancel the nativity scene, Christmas and Easter within Italian schools of every order and degree”, clarified Senator Fdi.

Disciplinary proceedings for institutions that prohibit nativity scenes

What is particularly controversial is article no. 4 contained in the bill which provides for disciplinary proceedings for the principal who prohibits the nativity scene at school.

“The violation of the rules referred to in this law by public administration employees – we read in the text – determines disciplinary proceedings according to the rules”. In particular, the law “prohibits preventing initiatives promoted by parents, students, or by the competent school bodies, aimed at continuing activities linked to the traditional celebrations linked to Christmas and Christian Easter, such as the setting up of the nativity scene, plays and other events connected to them”.

The response from the Principals’ Association (PNA) was immediate: “We must certainly keep in mind the traditions of the country, but imposing them by law is out of place. In any case, there will be a way, in the parliamentary debate, to carefully evaluate what needs to be done”, commented the president of the PNA Antonello Giannelli.

He also has his say on the bill, already renamed “Hands off the nativity scene”. Riccardo Magi secretary of +Europa.

“Just like clockwork, the right-wing law proposals to safeguard Italian Christian traditions return around Christmas. The same right led by Giorgia Meloni for whom today the Holy Family, fleeing from persecution, would probably end up in a CPR, perhaps in Albania, waiting to hear from some judge in Italy whether or not they are worthy of setting foot on Italian territory. Because here lies the hypocrisy, bordering on blasphemy according to the canons of the Catholic religion, of the government’s policy: safeguarding religious symbols almost as aspects of folklore and make rescue more difficult for those who risk their lives at sea”, underlined Magi with biting irony.

“Among other things, the imposition that the Brothers of Italy would like not only offends believers for this instrumental use of religious symbols, but is also unconstitutional because it contradicts the freedom of worship according to art. 19 of the Constitution, but above all it reminds religious regimes that want to impose the word of God by law”, concludes Magi.

I also criticize the secretary of the Italian Left and MP of Avs, Nicola Fratoianni.

“Brothers of Italy has presented a proposal to ‘defend’ the nativity scene in schools. By whom? We don’t know. But they provide fines and sanctions for those who do not comply. In the face of the secular state. And in the face of citizens, increasingly in difficulty between starvation salaries, collapsing healthcare and high cost of living, who have to listen to this government quibble about Christmas decorations. Truly absurd. So, a law to defend the nativity scene yes, initiatives to defend salaries no. This is the government Melons”, he writes on Facebook.

And just as the government reinforces Catholic traditions, the strongest provocation comes from the Church itself: Don Vitaliano della Sala, parish priest of Capocastello (Avellino), in Irpinia, this year placed two mothers in the nativity scene for the baby.

“The criticisms of my nativity scene with the two Madonnas? My gesture is intended to be an opportunity for meeting and discussion and not for an ideological clash which is more linked to politics than anything else”, the priest responds to the attacks.

“The reality that is today there are other types of families. In the oratories, at catechism, children of divorced, single, but also gay couples arrive. And we must treat them all the same, with respect. On the other hand, it is Pope Francis himself who says that the Church must not exclude anyone,” he underlines. “It’s 2023 and I wanted to put a rainbow couple in my nativity scene because they too are a type of family. There is no longer a traditional family. And we must take this into account because – he reiterates – Jesus Christ becomes incarnate for them too”.

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