BY Ryan McDougall | December 6 2019 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

1 - aberdeen nativity

Bishop’s sadness as yobs wreck Aberdeen nativity

Catholics speak out after 'mindless' vandals smash baby Jesus figure

The Bishop of Aberdeen has spoken out after a public Nativity scene in the city was wrecked by vandals who destroyed the baby Jesus figure just hours after it was unveiled.

The Nativity display at St Nicholas Kirk, Aberdeen city centre, was opened on Monday December 2 by an ecumenical group including Bishop Hugh Gilbert, to the delight of Christians across the city who have been left ‘shocked’ by the act of ‘desecration’.

Between Monday evening and the early hours of Tuesday morning, the baby Jesus statue was smashed to pieces and had half its face stolen, while the figures of two wise men and a donkey were knocked over and damaged.

Bishop Gilbert of Aberdeen Diocese, condemned the attack after he presided the blessing at the opening ceremony along with representatives of Aberdeen Churches Together, the city council’s lord and depute provosts, and pupils of both Catholic and non-denominational schools.

 

Perpetrators

Bishop Hugh Gilbert said: “On behalf of the Diocese of Aberdeen, can I add my sorrow to others who come together at this time to express their feelings surrounding this act of vandalism. For this to take place as we enter into the season of Advent is particularly hurtful and we pray for the local faith communities coming to terms with it, as we pray also for the perpetrators that they may see the error in what they have done.”

Bishop Gilbert continued: “As part of Aberdeen Churches Together, the diocese is trying to find a replacement baby Jesus for the Nativity scene, at least until Aberdeen City Council can find a replacement or have another one made.

“In this respect the Diocese has contacted local Roman Catholic schools and asked them if they have a model of the baby Jesus they can give on loan, to add to the Nativity scene at the church in Aberdeen city centre.

“We are doing what we can to help, and we come together at this time to reinstate the Nativity scene so that it can be enjoyed by the whole community.”

 

Mentality

The act of desecration has shocked the entire Catholic community in Aberdeen who will feel targeted, according to St Mary’s Cathedral priest, Fr Keith Herrera.

Fr Herrera said he was ‘shocked’ by the ‘very deliberate and targeted act of vandalism.’

“The Nativity scene was enclosed in a protective glass/plastic fronted building,” he said.

“The perpetrator broke in and then targeted the image of the Christ-Child for destruction.

“The fact that it was only the image of the Christ-Child that was destroyed whilst the others were only knocked over and damaged gives some indication as to the mentality of the person(s) involved.”

Fr Herrera added he ‘can only guess’ why someone would do such a thing.

 

Upset

Asked if he believes it will cause upset to Catholics and other Christians in the area, he added: “Sure, it will cause upset. It may well have been intended to cause upset. “

We are all sad that this has happened but I am certain that the unintended consequence will be that of the person earning himself the prayers of many a Christian in Aberdeen.”

Two boys, aged 13 and 17, have been charged by police.

 

‘appalling’ attack

Deputy Provost of Aberdeen City Council, Jennifer Stewart, who herself is Catholic, said: “The vandalism is appalling and a real attack on the Catholic and Christian community.

“This mindless attack has left a terrible sense of ill will when we are in the period of Advent. one of joy, hope and anticipation of our Saviour’s birth.

“Personally, I feel violated that someone would find the need to try and desecrate a blessed Nativity.

“We move in difficult times of division [and] the simplicity of the humble stable and Nativity should bring people together.”

Initially, a small statue of baby Jesus was sourced as a temporary replacement, but Aberdeen City Council has now issued a larger statue which was stored from a previous Nativity display.

The council has strongly criticised the vandalism.

 

‘Disgusting act’

A spokesperson told the Press and Journal: “We were appalled to discover the vandalism that has occurred at the nativity scene in St Nicholas Kirkyard.

“The scene was blessed only yesterday and is a hugely popular and important part of the city’s Christmas celebrations.

“Police are now investigating this disgusting act of destruction and we will help them in every way possible”.

The Nativity scene is scheduled to be open daily, from dawn to dusk, until January 7 2020.

Last year, major shopping centres across Scotland came under fire after an SCO investigation revealed that only six out of 26 major malls in the country were hosting Nativity displays.

The research followed news that the Thistle Shopping Centre, Stirling, rejected requests from the Legion of Mary to host a Nativity scene. The shopping   centre later changed its decision.

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