Every year the Vatican in Rome boasts an elaborate nativity scene, but this year’s set-up has raised eyebrows among some believers.
Unveiled in early December in St Peter’s Square, this year’s scene is supposed to represent Jesus’ ‘corporal works of mercy’.
— Edward Pentin (@EdwardPentin) December 12, 2017
It was donated by the Southern Italy Benedictine Abbey of Montevergine and designed by Antonio Cantone
Cantone has defended the scene, saying he wanted to create something thought-provoking: ‘It is not a campy nativity; it is particular and makes you think. It leaves no one indifferent; there are provocations.’
The figure some find most provocative is a semi-naked man. The ripped and toned figure’s inclusion represents the mercy of ‘clothing the naked.’
‘Works of mercy’
‘This year’s Nativity scene, executed in the typical style of Neapolitan art, is inspired by the works of mercy,’ said Pope Francis of the scene.
‘The crib is the evocative place where we contemplate Jesus who, taking upon himself human misery, invites us to do the same through act of mercy.’
Reactions to the nativity have been mixed.
‘The “corporal works of mercy ,” huh? Looks to me like an excuse to openly flaunt homoerotica!’ said one @marybeth_groves
The "corporal works of mercy ," huh? 😏Looks to me like an excuse to openly flaunt homoerotica!
— Marybeth G (@marybeth_groves) December 13, 2017
‘They could have made him a little less naked’
‘They could have made him a little less naked….could the guy clothing him at least have been actually clothing him instead of doing a half-a## job?’ said @ jillm816 on Instagram.
‘He’s like an unfortunate drunk frat boy, and the gentleman giving him the sheet is telling him to shape up, “and for God’s sake, cover yourself, man!”,’ added @ maryashton1
According to Breitbart, Facebook at first turned down images of the scene, citing that they violated guidelines relating to ‘sexually suggestive or provocative images’. GSN has sought clarification from Facebook.
Life Site News, a Catholic news service, suggests that the Abbey responsible for the scene houses a portrait of the Virgin Mary beloved of LGBT Catholics in Italy – Our Lady of Montevergine. Approached for comment, Antonello Sannini, President of Italian LGBT organization Arcigay Naples, praised the nativity.
‘The presence of the Vatican Nativity Scene for us is a reason to be even happier this year. For the homosexual and transsexual community in Naples, it is an important symbol of inclusion and integration.’
An Asian child looks out at this year’s Vatican Nativity scene featuring a homoerotic figure. The crèche, meant to portray the 7 corporal acts of mercy, was made in Montevergine, a town famous for its close links with Italy’s LGBT community. The scene has outraged many Catholics. pic.twitter.com/uXIHRX9mgf
— Edward Pentin (@EdwardPentin) December 22, 2017
Who's in charge of designing/approving Vatican manger scenes? This year's naked-guy rendition is just bizarre. Jarring, discordant & chaotic, it's not even Baby Jesus-centered. Yes, the extra bits are meant to depict works of mercy, but why? They don't belong in a Nativity scene. pic.twitter.com/OOygf0n1uV
— Patrick Madrid (@patrickmadrid) December 13, 2017