The climate change-themed nativity outside St. Susanna's in Dedham. (Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio)
DEDHAM, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A controversial climate change-themed nativity scene is turning heads in Dedham—but the pastor who runs the church claims it isn't political at all.
The crèche at St. Susanna's Church on Needham Street in Dedham shows baby Jesus floating on water littered with plastic bottles. The three wise men barely have their heads above water, while the animals are underneath the rising seas.
"The sheep and the cow and the oxen are under the water, and was to depict that 200 species a day now are going extinct, as we speak," Father Stephen Josoma told WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe. "This is a reality."
"'God So Loved The World...' Will We?" reads a sign above it all.
It's not the first time the church's nativity has taken a controversial form. Last year, the crèche featured baby Jesus in a cage, separated from his parents, in a nod toward immigration issues. In 2017, the nativity brought attention to deadly mass shootings.
Fr. Josoma denies critics' claims that the church is trying to make a political statement.
"Pope Francis says that to refuse to take care of the Earth at this time is a grave sin," he said. "That's pretty strong words. That might not work for someone that doesn't share our faith, but for fellow Catholics, I would ask them to consider that this is not a political issue—it's a human issue facing all of humanity, all of life on this planet."
Fr. Josoma said the crèche is a sign of the times we're living in.
"If we do our job, we're supposed to enable people to change how they see the world," he said. "Jesus was put to death on a cross. I suspect people told him he shouldn't have been talking about the things he was talking about and doing the things he was doing. It was the reason for his death."
WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports