In this season of displaying, and packing away, the family crèche, Pope Benedict XVI's book is challenging some long-held Christmas traditions. In Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, the pontiff wrote that in the Gospels there is "no reference" to animals in the Bethlehem stable where Jesus was born. Benedict also wrote that the angels who announced Jesus' birth to the shepherds probably didn't actually sing, and that the three wise men could have been inspired by a "theological idea" rather than by a "historical event." When the media zeroed in on the absence of animals and angels, the Vatican blasted the press for too narrow of a focus.
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