TORONTO, November 29, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - Vandals in Toronto attacked and damaged the nativity scene placed in front of Toronto’s Old City Hall courthouse by Gethsemane Ministries, a Catholic lay movement.
Suresh Dominic, founder and head of Gethsemane Ministries, told LifeSiteNews.com that the display had been set up on Sunday, but on Wednesday morning it they discovered that someone had smashed the plexiglass window of the display and decapitated a lamb figurine.
“It is disappointing to see the intolerance toward Christianity in our city,” Dominic remarked. “I hope Canadians will realize that this hatred destroys the joy and peace that everyone looks for in this season.”
“This is a time of joy and peace, as you see the entire city of Toronto gearing up for this Christmas season, and this ruins everyone’s peace,” he said.
The nativity scene set up by Gethsemane Ministries for the past six years has been vandalized every year with the exception of 2011.
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In 2006, the figurine of the baby Jesus was stolen from the nativity scene, and the lights and wiring were destroyed.
“There is no need to steal the Infant Jesus, He is free for the taking,” said Dominic at the time. “He is willing to come to all who ask for Him and seek Him with a sincere heart.”
The tradition of a nativity scene in front of Toronto’s Old City Hall dates back to 1996, when the St. Thomas More Lawyers Guild obtained a permit to set up a crèche display.
In the succeeding years the crèche, with its depiction of the true origins of the Christmas season, has been a focal point for families, who often stop to take photos while visiting other downtown Toronto landmarks.
Commenting on the tradition of nativity scenes, Pope Benedict XVI has said, “In a few days it will be Christmas, and I imagine that, in your homes, you are putting the final touches to your nativity scenes, which are such an evocative depiction of Christmas. I hope that this important element, not only of our spirituality but also of our culture and art, may endure as a simple and eloquent way to remember the One Who came ‘to dwell among us’.”
Joanne McGarry, Executive Director of the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL), told LifeSiteNews that the vandalism of nativity scenes is not a new problem, but it shows “a lack of respect for religious symbols in the public square.”
“Nativity scenes are a cherished symbol for many people,” McGarry said. “They are at the centre of the Christian celebration of Christmas. This vandalism is very regrettable, but it should not stop Gethsemane Ministries and all the other organizations involved with nativity scenes from setting up their crèches every year. We need to keep this symbolism in the public square.”
Mayor Rob Ford
Toronto City Hall, 2nd Floor
100 Queen St. West
Phone: 416-397-CITY (2489)