A Catholic priest has urged the church to abandon the word “Christmas” because it has been “hijacked by Santa and reindeer.”
Dublin-based priest Father Desmond O’Donnell said believers should now use the word “Nativity” instead of “Christmas,”because the latter has lost all its meaning to commercialization.
“We’ve lost Christmas, just like we lost Easter, and should abandon the word completely,” O’Donnell told the Belfast Telegraph. “We need to let it go, it’s already been hijacked and we just need to recognize and accept that.”
The priest, who has published books about Christianity, was keen to dispel the idea that he is a Grinch-like figure who wants to cancel Christmas.
“I am not seeking to take anything away from anyone, I am simply asking that space be preserved for believers for whom Christmas has nothing to do with Santa and reindeer,” he said.
"My religious experience of true Christmas, like so many others, is very deep and real - like the air I breathe. But non-believers deserve and need their celebration, too. It's an essential human dynamic and we all need that in the toughness of life.”
The clergyman conceded that he didn't think it likely that the church will abandon the word Christmas but warned that its refusal to do so will have consequences. "It will mean that secularisation and modern life will continue to launder the Church,” he said.
"It will start to institutionally break down, I've already seen it happening around the world in Malta, Poland and Uruguay, and it's starting to happen in Ireland. It's like watching the same movie over and over again - the Protestant Churches are battling too.”
O’Donnell’s comments come after the popular British bakery Greggs was forced to apologize after replacing baby Jesus with a sausage roll in a picture promoting its new advent calendar.