Preacher Says Islam Isn't Against Christmas

Father Cantalamessa Delivers Advent Meditation

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 22, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Secularism, not Islam, is behind the war on Christmas, according to the preacher of the Pontifical Household in an Advent sermon.



Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said this today in his second Advent meditation in the presence of Benedict XVI and his aides in the Roman Curia in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.

The priest said the "cultural derision, or at least marginalization, of religious beliefs with the campaign in different European countries and cities against the religious symbols of Christmas."

The preacher said: "The reason often given for this is the desire to not offend persons of other religions among us, especially the Muslims.

"But it is a pretext, an excuse. In reality it is not the Muslims who do not want these symbols but a certain non-believing group in society. Muslims have nothing against the Christian celebration of Christmas, indeed, they honor it."

"We have arrived at a rather absurd juncture: On the one hand, many Muslims celebrate the birth of Jesus and want a crèche in their home and say that 'those who do not believe in the miraculous birth of Jesus are not Muslim,'" Father Cantalamessa said.

"And on the other hand, there are many who call themselves Christians who want to make Christmas a 'winter festival' populated only by reindeer and teddy bears," he continued.

To make his point, Father Cantalamessa commented that the Koran even speaks of the Annunciation.

He also mentioned an article published Dec. 18 in Italy entitled "We Muslims Say Yes to the Crèche," written by Muslim journalist Magdi Allan, deputy director of Il Corriere della Sera.

The article states: "Christmas unites Christians and Muslims. For Islam the figures of Jesus and of Mary are very important and mentioned on several occasions in the Koran itself.

"Therefore, I don't see why Muslim children cannot sing the carols."