(Update: The Vatican has critiqued press coverage for entirely missing the main message of the book.)
The newborn Christ may have been placed in a manger filled with hay, but that does not mean donkeys, cattle, and sheep were present at his birth. At least, so claims Pope Benedict XVI in his newest book, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives.
In the book, which went on sale in November, the Pope takes aim at several long-standing Christian traditions, including the presence of domestic animals at the nativity. But he also questions the entire foundation of the Gregorian calendar, asserting that a sixth-century monk miscalculated the date of Christ's birth.
According to The Telegraph, "The assertion that the Christian calendar is based on a false premise is not new–many historians believe that Christ was born sometime between 7BC and 2BC. But the fact that doubts over one of the keystones of Christian tradition have been raised by the leader of the world's one billion Catholics is striking." ...1