Newborn found in Nativity scene at New York church

A baby with an umbilical cord still attached was discovered this week in a Nativity scene at a New York church, according to church staff.

Jose Moran, a custodian at Holy Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill in Queens, found a baby boy wrapped in towels in a Nativity scene on Monday afternoon.

Moran heard a baby but didn’t think anything of it because people go in and out of the church all the time, said Paul Cerni, parish secretary. But once he got closer, Moran saw the newborn.

“(The custodian) heard some crying, a baby crying, and he looked all around,” Bishop Octavio Cisneros told CNN affiliate WPIX-TV. “Then he realized that the sound came from here.”

Church staff called 911, and the baby was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens. The 5-pound, 2-ounce baby is healthy and doing fine, according to Cerni.

“We’re just happy the child is OK and it was placed in a good spot where it was found very quickly and wasn’t left outside,” Cerni said.

The mother is very much in the thoughts of Cisneros, who praised “the care she had for the baby.”

“She just did not abandon the baby on the sidewalk (or in) a garbage can,” said Cisneros, who is the pastor of the Roman Catholic church. “She did not treat the baby in a way that was going to be harmed.”

New York’s Abandoned Infant Protection Act allows a parent to abandon a newborn up to 30 days of age anonymously and without fear of prosecution at a safe and suitable place. The infant must be left with an appropriate person, or an appropriate person needs to be notified of the child’s location.

On Wednesday, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said the mother, who returned to the church on Tuesday to make sure the baby had been found, followed the spirit of the state’s protection act and therefore would not be prosecuted.

The discovery amazed parishioners, the parish secretary said.

The Rev. Christopher R. Heanue told CNN affiliate WABC-TV, “God has a way of working mysteriously because I believe when this woman who came in with this child, saw this creche, this empty home, this home in which we’ll welcome Jesus in just a few short weeks, I believe she found in it a home for her child.”

Members of the church community are looking to welcome the boy into their family.

“We have a young couple that’s actually certified to be foster parents, and they’re hoping to adopt this child,” Cerni said.

Wherever the infant ends up, Cisneros says he will have a special place at Holy Child Jesus Church and in his heart.

“I was looking at the pictures myself today … and I said, ‘I’m becoming attached to the baby myself,’ ” the bishop said. “They don’t call priests fathers for nothing.”

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