Vatican Christmas tree to be recycled for toys

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Workers last Friday maneuvered the trunk of the Vatican's Christmas tree into its stand in St. Peter's Square. (CNS photo by Carol Glatz)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican will recycle its Christmas tree – and not for firewood, paper or mulch.

It will be turned into wooden toys, toy chests, benches and other things that children can decorate and use.

Yesterday’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, said the wood of the majestic, 108-foot-tall spruce in St. Peter’s Square would be given to several companies that make “semi-finished” products for children, including benches and gazebos for schoolyards or parks, as well as toys, boxes and frames.

The companies’ rough work will be given to schools and other institutions that run children’s workshops, and the kids themselves will paint and varnish the objects, the newspaper said.

The project is motivated by a desire “not to waste” the 120-year-old tree, but “to reuse it to benefit the planet’s new generation,” L’Osservatore reported.

Meanwhile, people can keep track of the Vatican workers’ progress in decorating the tree by checking out the webcams the Vatican has focused on St. Peter’s Square from the cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica and from the top of the colonnade surrounding the square.

“Would you kill someone for a flat panel HDTV at half price?”

That was the lede sentence in a commentary in Our Sunday Visitor by Greg Erlandson. Headlined “Advent on the Precipice,” Erlandson recalls the “Black Friday” death of a Wal-Mart employee trampled by onrushing bargain-hunters and notes the importance of getting beyond the consumerist mentality of the season — especially at a time when the economy is in a freefall — and focusing on what’s at stake for us this month spiritually.

Also writing on the same theme was Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., in his diocesan newspaper, The Beacon. The headline on his column: “Advent: Black Friday Turned Inside Out.”

Update: Another reminiscence on Chicago school fire

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, one of the four “Chicago guys” we wrote about in this blog last week, also wrote a column in The Georgia Bulletin in Atlanta of his own memories of the Our Lady of the Angels fire in Chicago 50 years ago last week — he was in sixth grade at a different Chicago school at the time — that took the lives of nearly 100 members of the school community.

“It was an unthinkable catastrophe, which broke hearts far and wide beyond that parish, community and diocese,” he writes. “Its repercussions ushered in an extensive and much needed obligatory reform of school safety standards and practices across our nation.” Read the full column here.

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