Church leaders united Wednesday to condemn a Christmas nativity tableau depicting soccer star David Beckham as Joseph and his pop singer wife Victoria as the Virgin Mary. Anglicans, Catholics and Presbyterians called the exhibit at Madame Tussaud's waxwork museum in London a new low in the cult of celebrity worship.
In the tableau, Australian pop star Kylie Minogue hovers above the crib as an angel while "Posh Spice" Victoria lays her shawled head tenderly on Beckham's shoulder. Tony Blair, George W. Bush and the Duke of Edinburgh star as The Three Wise Men. The shepherds are played by Hollywood star Samuel L. Jackson, British actor Hugh Grant and camp Irish comedian Graham Norton.
The Vatican was not amused. "This is worse than bad taste. It is cheap," an official Vatican source told Reuters in Rome. "You cannot use contemporary personalities as the central figures of the nativity ... And it becomes worse, if that were possible, if the people may be of questionable moral standing," he added. He said it was sometimes acceptable to use modern figures in the supporting roles because it can help make Christmas contemporary -- but not the central characters.
In Naples, for example, famous figures like Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona have been depicted as shepherds in creche scenes.