The Nativity Story premiers at the Vatican

 A film about the birth of Jesus was due have its world premiere last night at the Vatican, the first time a feature film has debuted there. Around 7,000 people were expected at the charity screening of "The Nativity Story" in Paul VI Hall, although Pope Benedict XVI was not expected.

Archbishop John Foley, who heads the Vatican's social communications office, welcomed the full house and said the move went against what he described as inhibitions to publicly promote Christmas.

"At a time when in so many ways people are hesitant to say 'Merry Christmas,' hesitant to even mention the name of Jesus Christ, we are happy to celebrate here this evening a film in which we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ," Foley said before the screening.

Archbishop Foley did not mention that earlier this year in the United States, a federal appeals court upheld New York City's policy on school holiday displays, which allows symbols of Jewish and Muslim holidays but prohibits Christian nativity scenes. Santa Claus and Christmas trees are permitted.
ROME - 27 November 2006 - 179 words

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