Vatican forever bars woman who bared breasts,
grabbed baby Jesus statue
Dec 27, 2014 10:45 AM ET Last Updated: Dec 27, 2014 12:24 PM ET
Vatican Femen Protest
Italian police officers arrest a Ukrainian feminist group Femen activist after she snatched the statue of Baby Jesus from the Nativity scene set in St. Peter's Square and also bared her breasts. (Associated Press)
The Vatican said it had arrested a member of women's rights group Femen who on Christmas Day bared her breasts and grabbed a statue of the baby Jesus from a nativity scene in front of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square.
Femen's website says the woman was protesting as part of its anti-clerical "Massacre of the Innocents" campaign contesting religions' "maniacal desire to control women's fertility".
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Friday that Ukrainian citizen Iana Aleksandrovna Azhdanova was being detained and questioned by a Vatican judge. On Saturday, the Vatican said she had been released and was forbidden to return to the Holy See.
He said she was accused of vilification of religion, obscene acts in public, and theft. He said her action "offended the religious feelings of many people".
A Vatican policeman stopped Azhdanova, who had "God is woman" written on her chest, and covered her with his cape. She staged her protest shortly after Pope Francis had finished reading his Christmas greeting to the crowd.
Femen activists have staged protests at the Vatican before, the latest last month, and have been let go. But Lombardi said the Vatican had decided to be firm this time and arrest Azhdanova because her action was "particularly grave".
Lombardi said the group had "intentionally, repeatedly and gravely violated the right of the faithful to see their legitimate religious convictions respected".
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