New York’s “Safe Haven Law” will protect the mother who left her newborn baby in a Catholic church’s Christmas nativity scene this week.
The newborn boy was found with his umbilical cord still attached lying the Holy Child Jesus church’s crib.
Father Christopher Ryan Heanue, whose parents hail from Kentstown, near Navan, County Meath, is one of the priests at the Richmond Hill church. He was among those who found the baby and wrapped in a clean towel while waiting for the police to arrive.
“The beautiful thing is that this woman found in this church - which is supposed to be a home for those in need - this home for her child,” Fr Heanue told the Irish Independent.
The baby boy was found on Monday afternoon by the church’s custodian, Jose Moran.
Heanue continued, “A young couple in our parish would love to adopt this child and keep this gift in our community. It would make a great Christmas miracle," Fr Heanue said.
"The baby was found in crèche, a sort of manger scene where we would put the baby Jesus during Christmas time.
"The church is considered a safe haven for drop-offs. The baby was brand new. He still had the umbilical cord attached. It's a beautiful baby boy."
Bishop Octavio Cisneros told the BBC the baby was ”a miracle child, because he has touched the lives of all of us here in the parish.”
The child was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was found to be healthy. The baby is now in the custody of the city’s Administration for Children’s Services, as is routine in such cases.
Police are investigating the incident, however under New York state law the mother is will not be charged. The “Safe Haven Law” allows a parent to leave a child in a safe location. As long as someone is notified no questions are asked.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown released the following statement:
“After a full review of all the facts and circumstances surrounding the discovery of a newborn infant this past Monday in a crèche inside of Holy Child Jesus Church in the Richmond Hill section of Queens County – including locating and interviewing the mother – my office has determined that no criminal prosecution of the child's mother is warranted.”
Brown added, “It appears that the mother, in this case, felt her newborn child would be found safely in the church and chose to place the baby in the manger because it was the warmest place in the church, and further she returned the following morning to make certain that the baby had been found."
A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Brooklyn, Rocio Fidalgo spoke to the Irish Times and said that from time to time people do leave unwanted children at churches. She declined to give specifics saying only: “It’s not uncommon but we feel and we believe that these mothers trust our churches in the middle of their desperation.”