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Priest Dresses Mary and Joseph In Muslim Garb, Causes Outrage

A parish priest in the south of Italy enraged parishioners by dressing the Virgin Mary in a Muslim burqa for his church’s Christmas Nativity scene, adding a boat full of refugees and a rainbow flag in place of the star of Bethlehem.

The pastor of the parish of Saints Joachim and Anne in Potenza, Father Franco Corbo, found himself face to face with an angry mob of demonstrators gathered outside his church on Wednesday to protest his provocative display.

“Don Franco,” as the priest is known, said that he had the special crèche scene constructed “in the name of dialogue among religions” and that his message had been “misinterpreted.”

Asked whether he didn’t consider his Nativity scene as sacrilegious, the 75-year-old priest said it was not, but rather a symbol that “religion can and should be an instrument of dialogue.”

“Islam is synonymous with peace and brotherhood,” the priest said, adding that Islamic terrorism is “an aberration that has nothing to do with religion.”

Along with Mary’s burqa, the priest represented Saint Joseph as a north African Muslim and dressed a number of the traditional shepherds in Muslim garb as well.

The holy family arrayed in Islamic apparel is “a call for an open mind” as well as “a message of peace,” Don Franco said. As for those who dispute his decision, the priest said their objections come from “narrow-mindedness and a form of fundamentalism.” full story

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