Welcome publicity from creche controversy

  • December 17, 2009
{mosimage}It was petty of Toronto bureaucrats to demand that a tribute to Fr. Ted Colleton be removed from a Nativity scene outside Old City Hall. But like the Grinch, their mean-spiritedness provided a timely, if inadvertent, reminder of the spiritual truth of Christmas.

The brouhaha erupted when a local do-gooder became upset because he noticed a Nativity scene that was  associating Jesus, Mary and Joseph with the virtues of life and family. That mankind’s holiest family are the standard for the sanctity of family life would seem as obvious as city hall itself. But, this being the 21st century, a letter was fired off to the mayor and, quicker than you can say Big Brother, the Nativity scene was  stripped of its pro-life endorsement.

The endorsement had come by way of a small sign that identified Campaign Life Coalition as the donor of the creche statues, a contribution made, said the sign, “In honour of the efforts of Pro-Life hero Fr. Ted Colleton.” Now retired, Fr. Colleton opposed abortion as fiercely as he supported family, so the tribute was fitting.

Until city hall got involved, the creche had been a blur in the frenzy of downtown life. But one man’s  public objection to a simple tribute thrust the Holy Family into the news and, instead of bemoaning slumping retail sales, the media buzzed about the Nativity scene in ways that, if not mysterious, were certainly strange.

The story made the front page of the Toronto Star and other papers plus TV and radio. Marketers spend tens of thousands of dollars trying to promote products and events and are happy to receive even half the exposure this story received. So maybe the do-gooder did us a favour.

In attempting to disassociate the birth of Christ from the sanctity of life, he accomplished the opposite. He thrust it into the spotlight. The Nativity scene is a compelling symbol of the faith and courage of Mary and Joseph. They overcame understandable fears to accept a difficult calling with piety and grace. The Bethlehem birthplace was humble, the circumstances difficult and yet the setting speaks powerfully of the gift of life and the joy of family.

For a few days, at least, as Toronto’s news media discovered the oft-forgotten Nativity scene, we were reminded that the wonder of Christmas is not found in a shopping mall or beneath a tree, but lives in the love of family, the celebration of God’s gifts and the blessing of life.

 “The Nativity scene is a school of life where we can learn the secret of true joy,” Pope Benedict XVI said recently. “This does not consist in possessing many things but in feeling ourselves to be loved by the Lord, in making ourselves a gift for others, and in loving one another.”

From all of us at The Catholic Register, may you enjoy that love and peace this Christmas.

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