A nativity scene that depicted two moms and omitting Joseph caused a stir at a small Catholic church in southern Italy over the weekend.
In nativity scenes, it is common practice to portray the Holy Family—the Virgin Mary, her husband Joseph, and the child Jesus. However, in the small Italian town of Capocastello di Mercogliano, a second lady now occupies Joseph’s customary place in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul.
Conservatives known as Pro-Vita & Famiglia (pro-life and family) have taken to social media to demand the nativity scene be taken down. Over 23,000 people have signed an online petition urging the bishop of Avellino to take action. The number of Italian signatures is uncertain since anybody worldwide may sign the petition.
To get the bishop of Avellino to take action, the organization started an online petition, which has received well over 20,000 signatures.
The pro-life camp said that the nativity tableau desecrated traditional family values and gave the green light to same-sex and surrogacy. Italy has passed a law making it illegal to use surrogacy to have a family. A government-sponsored bill to make it illegal for couples to go overseas to engage in the practice is now being considered by parliament.
According to ANSA, the offices of Pro-Vita in Rome were adorned with a same-sex nativity tableau with two Virgin Marys on Sunday.
In this piece, Italian activist and graffiti artist Laika depicts Jesus cradled in a rainbow flag blanket. Posters depicting the scenario were affixed to the building’s shutters at headquarters.
According to ANSA, another poster depicting St. Joseph at work on the “coffin of the patriarchy” was also shown by Laika. Father Vitaliano Della, a priest from the Italian region of Avellino, defended the image.
Just days before this controversy, Pope Francis made the historic decision to let priests bless same-sex couples, with the caveat that such blessings are not associated with the sacrament of marriage.
In a lengthy statement posted on its website, Pro-Vita & Famiglia referred to the nativity scene as “blasphemous” and “a monstrous falsehood.”
Portraits in Faith reports that Della Sala, also known as “the rebellious priest,” had a history of conflicts with the Catholic hierarchy and was ousted from his position as parish priest of Sant’Angelo a Scala in 2002 due to his activity, which included participating in a Pride parade.