Bishop says militant fathers group should have Joseph as patron saint
The bishop who waded into controversy over one of Britain's best-loved hymns has urged the pressure group Fathers 4 Justice to adopt the Virgin Mary's husband Joseph, as their patron saint.
The Right Reverend Stephen Lowe caused a stir earlier this year when he said the patriotic hymn I Vow To Thee My Country was "heretical" and that he preferred not to have it played in his church.
Now he has stuck his head over the pulpit once again.
In a message to his diocese the Bishop of Hulme has criticised the popular image of Mary with Child seen on countless Christmas cards - because it leaves out Mary's husband Joseph.
He also urges pressure group Fathers 4 Justice to adopt Joseph as their patron saint.
He said: "There is something profound in the symbolism of a mother's love for her child and of course this is to be celebrated. But I do get very irritated by the commercial and sometimes religious marginalisation of Joseph.
"Perhaps Fathers 4 Justice should adopt him as their patron saint. So I want Joseph there too."
Writing in the diocesan newsletter Crux, the bishop also turned his attention to other themes on Christmas cards. He added: "I have a serious dislike of robins, snowdrops, and Santas in difficulties. I'm just not quite sure what they have to do with the celebration of Christmas."
The Bishop added that he didn't want to seem "grumpy" but that it was important for Christmas cards to convey the right message.
A spokeswoman for the Manchester diocese added that many Christians were unhappy with the lack of festive cards showing the traditional Christmas images.
Matt O'Connor, a member of the Fathers 4 Justice group in Manchester, said: "I think it's an excellent idea having Joseph as our patron saint. The Bishop sounds a great bloke."