26 December 2014, The Tablet

Vatican releases Femen activist following Christmas Day theft

The Vatican has released a Femen activist who on Christmas Day seized the statue of Baby Jesus in the life-size Nativity scene in the centre of St Peter's Square.

The bare-breasted woman grabbed the statue and shouted slogans until stopped by a Vatican guard who covered her with his cape. The woman, Ukranian, Yana Zhdanova, was released today after questioning. She has been barred from Vatican City State and St Peter's Square.

Immediately following the incident, Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said that the incident aimed to "intentionally offend the religious feelings" of numerous people. 

Fr Lombardi issued a statement noting that three members of the Femen activist group had previously targeted the Vatican with another protest last month, baring their breasts - the Femen hallmark - in St Peter's Square to protest against Pope Francis' visit to the European Parliament.

"It is therefore correct to proceed with the appropriate rigour against repeated acts that intentionally, repeatedly and severely infringe on the right of the faithful to the respect of their legitimate religious convictions," Lombardi said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Vatican is still detaining a man who attempted to scale the dome of St Peter's on 21 December. Marcello Di Finizio, an Italian, has climbed the dome on four previous occasions.


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