Saturday, May 12, 2007

But What About Ticked Off Protestants?

Milan Hospital replaces crucifix with Mary to please Muslims.

Milan - Milan's leading obstetric hospital was replacing its crucifixes with images of the Virgin Mary to avoid offending a growing number of Muslim patients, reports said Wednesday.

'Our wards have become multiethnic. We want to respect all religions and avoid any form of discrimination. That is why we have decided to replace the crucifix with the image of the Madonna, which is also appreciated by Muslim women,' daily La Repubblica quoted Mangiagalli's medical director, Basilio Tiso, as saying Wednesday.

Some 7,000 women give birth at the Mangiagalli each year. Of these, about 30 per cent are foreign immigrants, many of whom are not Catholic. God knows not many are Milanese women are giving birth, my brother describes the average one as over 33, militantly single, still living with Mommy and impossible to get along with.

The head of Milan's Viale Jenner Islamic centre, Abdelhamid Shaari, welcomed the move, saying Mary was a figure that was also revered by Muslims. I've heard of Mary described as a pathway toward the Muslim heart.

'This is certainly a sign of respect for our religion that we greatly appreciate. But a white wall would have been even better. Italy is a secular state and children are angels in any religion,' Shaari told La Repubblica. Blank white wall? Oh, then you are deep within Vatican II Roman Catholicism and mainline Protestantism.

The representation of the cross on which Jesus died has become the subject of a heated debate in Italy in recent years as Muslim groups and non-Christians seek its removal from the walls of public buildings.

Although church and state are officially separated in Italy, a 1923 regulation issued during Benito Mussolini's Fascist rule and never repealed states that a symbol of the crucifix should hang in every classroom and courtroom in the country.

Officials at the Mangiagalli hospital plan to replace all crucifixes within the next few months. However, patients will still be able to have a crucifix hanging in their room if they ask for one.

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