A contest called #SíALosNacimientos (Yes to Nativity Scenes) seeks to fill public property throughout Mexico with Nativity scenes in response to an attempt to ban them.
Promoted by the platform Verdades Claras y Falsas Máximas A.C. (Clear Truths and False Maxims), the contest proposes that Mexicans “place Nativity scenes on public property and send photographs to our social media.”
“The material will be received from Nov. 27, the First Sunday of Advent, to Dec. 11, the Third Sunday of Advent,” the platform explained to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency.
In addition, the contest includes a written category, where participants can submit “an essay of between 2,000 and 4,000 words arguing why Nativity scenes and religious symbols have a place on public property.”
Father Pablo Patrito, a priest of Crusaders of Christ the King, a priestly society of apostolic life, explained that “the State is there to guarantee the common good” whose foundation “is human dignity.”
“When the State goes against human dignity, it is attacking the common good. When the State promotes human dignity, it is also firmly establishing the common good,” he explained.
The First Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN), the highest judicial body in Mexico, will discuss and vote in the coming days on a draft ruling that could prohibit setting up “signs that allude to a specific religious conviction” on public property.
The draft ruling, prepared by Justice Juan Luis González Alcántara Carrancá, addresses a series of legal challenges by the nongovernmental organization Kanan Human Rights.
If the draft ruling is approved, it would initially affect three municipalities in the Mexican state of Yucatán, but it would give the green light to prohibit setting up religious symbols on public property throughout the country.
In addition, the SCJN ruling would not only affect Nativity scenes but also other expressions of devotion on public property such as images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Jude.
The draft ruling was supposed to be discussed and voted on Nov. 9 but was postponed.
Father Patrito explained that “in general” having public signs of faith “is a natural right of the human person to be able to freely express his religion.”
This is true especially “when it doesn’t attack others and even less so when it means benefiting others.”
With a creche set, manger, or Nativity scene, he said, “we are talking about the announcement of a historical truth, which is that God has become incarnate, has become a man, and has made himself present among us to save us.”
For the manger, which means peace, forgiveness, harmony, and salvation, “there is no prohibition,” said Patrito, because “everything that the manger means promotes the good of society; it cannot be limited.”
First Nativity scenes, then Our Lady of Guadalupe
The priest warned that if the Supreme Court decides to ban Nativity scenes, “later it will be Christmas trees. And then there will be pilgrimages, because they are a manifestation of public faith.”“Or they’re going to remove the images of Our Ladyof Guadalupe from the markets, because the markets are public areas,” he said.
“And this is already happening in other places: let’s remember how in Spain, the State is removing crucifixes from public property under the same principles that are now used in the legal challenge,” he said.
“Do we want to come to the same thing in Mexico? Do we want a desacralized culture with an atheist and secular state religion?” the priest asked.
For Patrito, the possible prohibition of religious symbols on public property “is a problem that affects the exercise of religious freedom and, more specifically, it’s the issue of where Christ is in the public square.”
“Therefore it’s so important that we don’t remain silent,” he stressed.