[Ed. – Before you get all up in arms: yes, the priest said he intentionally displayed a Mary figure in a “burqa,” as opposed to merely showing Mary wearing a head covering, which was typical throughout the Middle East at the time of Christ, well before the rise of Islam. And no, the Mary in the photo is not wearing a burqa. That’s the word used in the post, but her covering is more similar to a less comprehensive wrap like a chador or khimar.]
The pastor of the parish of Saints Joachim and Anne in Potenza, Father Franco Corbo, found himself face to face with an angry mob of demonstrators gathered outside his church on Wednesday to protest his provocative display.
“Don Franco,” as the priest is known, said that he had the special crèche scene constructed “in the name of dialogue among religions” and that his message had been “misinterpreted.”
Asked whether he didn’t consider his Nativity scene as sacrilegious, the 75-year-old priest said it was not, but rather a symbol that “religion can and should be an instrument of dialogue.”
“Islam is synonymous with peace and brotherhood,” the priest said, adding that Islamic terrorism is “an aberration that has nothing to do with religion.”
Along with Mary’s burqa, the priest represented Saint Joseph as a north African Muslim and dressed a number of the traditional shepherds in Muslim garb as well.