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Cardinal George Weighs In On Christmas Tree vs. Holiday Tree Debate (VIDEO)

Chicago Holiday Tree

First Posted: 12/16/11 03:47 PM ET Updated: 12/17/11 11:20 AM ET

Just weeks after Chicago's first-ever Jewish mayor Rahm Emanuel flipped the switch on the city's 55-foot holiday tree in Daley Plaza, Cardinal Francis George, the Archbishop of Chicago weighed in on the "controversy" surrounding Emanuel's coining of the spruce as a "holiday tree" instead of a "Christmas tree."

Cardinal George, the former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke Thursday on the matter with Graziano Marcheschi, host of the cable television program "The Church, the Cardinal and You."

"I don't make much of all of it. I think it's utter nonsense to be quite frank," George said Thursday, after Marcheschi pointed out that the festive tree placed in the rotunda of the Wisconsin state capitol building in Madison was recently coined a "Christmas tree" rather than a "holiday tree," as it had been since 1985, by controversial Republican Gov. Scott Walker. A nativity scene has also been newly added to the Wisconsin state capitol's holiday display.

(Scroll down to watch George's remarks on the city's holiday tree.)

"What holiday are we celebrating? It's Christmas Day. The Christmas tree doesn't even have religious origins so it doesn't make much difference to me," George continued.

George did warn, however, that it would be "disquieting if Christian terminology and Christian symbols or things that become Christian symbols are to be systematically stripped of any reference to their origin, then you have to ask, 'Why?' ... That's what is disquieting if that's what is meant there. It's not inclusive it's exclusive. It means that something that is called 'Christmas' is now no longer permitted to be publicly mentioned."

Commenting on Emanuel's coining of the tree in Daley Plaza as a "holiday tree" last month, Emily Soloff, associate director for interreligious and intergroup relations for the American Jewish Committee, said that the mayor's decision helped the tree symbolize the "happiness and joy that we all as Chicagoans can experience this season. ... That adds to our civic pride and our feelings of being a community that we all share in a part of this season."

WATCH the interview below:

Hat tip to the Beachwood Reporter for bringing this interview to our attention.

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Filed by Joseph Erbentraut  |