TORONTO, December 7, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The nativity scene placed in front of Toronto’s Old City Hall courthouse by the Catholic lay movement, Gethsemane Ministries, with the help of the pro-life group Campaign Life Coalition, has been vandalized – again.
Suresh Dominic, founder and head of Gethsemane Ministries, told LifeSiteNews that on Sunday December 5, the plexiglass front panel of the display was completely smashed.
“As in previous years,” Dominic said, “someone or a group of individuals have demonstrated hatred and intolerance turning a symbol of true peace and hope into a national shame.”
“I am saddened and disappointed that our city of Toronto is once again witnessing the manifestation of religious intolerance and hatred.”
In 2006, the figurine of the baby Jesus was stolen from the nativity scene, while the lights and wiring were destroyed.
Last year, the nativity scene was the center of media frenzy over a laminated paper sign affixed to the display noting that the crèche had been erected by Gethsemane Ministries with the help of a donation from Campaign Life Catholic (CLC), a branch of the pro-life organization, Campaign Life Coalition.
The Gethsemane Ministries’ logo was the dominant item on the notice. The bottom three lines, in small plain text, stated, “Statues donated by Campaign Life Coalition Catholic in honour of the efforts of Pro-Life hero Fr. Ted Colleton.”
CLC Catholic had donated $5000 for new figurines after the original statues had been vandalized.
All three major Canadian newspapers, as well as major TV and radio stations, covered the last three lines on the notice on the crèche as a major news item. The accreditation to Campaign Life Coalition Catholic was interpreted as a violation of Toronto’s human rights policy.
To correct the unintended controversy Gethesmane Ministries simply cut off the offending three lines from the bottom of the paper notice.
However, Toronto city hall demanded that the whole sign be removed.
‘‘The nativity scene that is currently located on the front lawn of Old City Hall has been located there during the Holiday Season for the past 14 years,” the official statement said. “A plaque had been erected, relating to ‘Campaign for Life,’ which wasn’t approved as part of the permit and does not comply with the City of Toronto’s Human Rights Policy. As a result, the plaque will be removed.”
Suresh Dominic told LifeSiteNews that when the crèche was set up this year, families “joyfully” gathered around the traditional Christian symbolism depicting the true origins of the Christmas season.
“Even before we finished installing the Nativity Scene in front of the Old City hall on Sunday November 28, we noticed families with young children began visiting the crèche, posing for photos joyfully with big smiles,” Dominic said.
“I can’t imagine how horrified and sad will they be if they visit the same place today,” he said. “We are asking our Mayor Rob Ford to intervene directly and find out who is behind this intolerance towards Christians.”
Joanne McGarry, Executive Director of the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL), told LifeSiteNews that her organization “finds it very unfortunate that vandals would attack one of the most familiar symbols of a very happy and very holy time of year.”
“Despite these attacks,” McGarry said, “we think it’s important to keep Christian symbols in public spaces as a reminder of the religious origins of the Christmas season, which remain very important to so many Torontonians.”
Mayor Rob Ford
Toronto City Hall, 2nd Floor
100 Queen St. West
Phone: 416-397-CITY (2489)
E-mail: mayor_fo[email protected]