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Pope hails Nativity scenes as “admirable” signs of faith

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has hailed Nativity scenes as ‘’simple and admirable’’ signs of Christian faith, commenting on a traditional Christmas practice that has triggered court battles in the United States.

Francis told faithful in St. Peter’s Square that later Sunday he will visit the Italian hill town of Greccio, where St. Francis of Assisi, the pontiff’s namesake, created the first creche scene. There he says he’ll sign a document, known as an apostolic letter, about the “significance and the value” of the Nativity scene to help the faithful prepare for Christmas.

He says a Nativity scene is “a simple and admirable sign of the Christian faith.”

Nativity scenes have triggered legal battles in the U.S. when erected on public property over the question of the separation of church and state.

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