This handout picture taken and released on December 1, 2019 by Vatican Media shows Pope Francis posing with Franciscans and faithful during a visit of the nativity scene of Greccio. /AFP PHOTO / Vatican Media/
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Pope Francis Sunday defended the display of nativity scenes in town squares and other public places, which has become an annual contentious issue at Christmas time in countries such as the United States and France.Nativity scenes depict the birth of Jesus as Christians believe it took place -- the baby and his mother posed in a humble stable setting with animals and shepherds, and kings bearing gifts who arrived days later.In the United States, groups opposed to nativity scenes in public places say they violate the first amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits the establishment of a state religion.In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favour of allowing nativity scenes in public places, saying that they were not an effort to establish or support a particular religion and also possessed what the court called "legitimate secular purposes".
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