15 December 2010

Was he right to say it? I suspect so

His Excellency the Most Reverend Fabriciano Sigampa, Archbishop of Resistencia [a fitting name for his Diocese] recently said in a homily that children should know that it is not Santa Clause who brings their gifts on Christmas:

"That's not Christmas," Archbishop Fabriciano Sigampa of the northern city of Resistencia said in mass, insisting that children should not confuse celebrating the birth of Christ "with a fat man dressed in red."

Sigampa's ire was aroused by plans for a snow covered cabin in the city's main square where a Father Christmas figure would hear children's wishes and receive donated toys to be given out to poor children.

"Surely, in the coming days there will be a deluge of advertisements after they inaugurate the house where a fat man dressed in red lives. And we should not confuse, we should not confuse Christmas with that."

He said children "should know that, in reality, the gifts come from the efforts of their parents and with the help of Jesus." [more]
Commenting on the story, Father Ray Blake added this wise thought:

Though we do not want kindergartens of howling children complaining "Father has ruined my Christmas", I think we Catholics ought to avoid implicating ourselves in deliberately deceiving children, just incase they see the Incarnation as being equally untrue.
I have heard several young people - perhaps sincerely, perhaps not - use this very example as a reason they do not accept the faith of the Church. If parents have deceived them as children about Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, it makes some sense to them that they may also have been deceived about Jesus.

Consider, for a moment, the great energy and thought given by parents to convince their children that Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy visit their homes. Now consider, for a moment, the great energy and thought given by parents to show their children the truth of Jesus Christ. Oh, wait... It isn't equal, is it? Houston, we have a problem.

Just a thought to ponder.


  1. Father-What a comfort to find Catholic leaders saying these things. We have told our kids the truth about Santa from day one and been thought of as everything from slightly odd to child abusers for it.

    I just want to say that after 13 years (the age of my oldest), we have never missed the secular Santa. Ever. And our Christmas celebrations are fun and beautiful. My kids will tell you that the highlight of Christmas is Holy Mass (with all the smells and bells of the celebration). They love the presents, of course, but know where they come from and why we give them. We are careful not to "ruin" it for others. Our kids are instructed to tell the truth if they are asked and otherwise remain silent.

    I wrote about our position and experience here:

    The Archbishop and Father Blake both say well in few words what it took me a bit longer to say. I suspect they have received not a few angry letters from parents for their efforts though if my own experience is any indication! Get your battle gear on, Father...You may get a few yourself!

  2. I fully expect a few angry words, Melody :)

  3. While I sympathize with the desire to always be truthful, I think Tony Woodlief's 2008 commentary makes a strong case for why Santa Claus -- and other fantasies -- should be embraced by Christians:

    "I suspect that fairy tales and Santa Claus do prepare us to embrace the ultimate Fairy Tale, the one Lewis believed was ingrained in our being. New research from the Université de Montréal and the University of Ottawa indicates that children aren't overly troubled upon learning that Santa is a myth. But the researchers remained puzzled because while children eventually abandon Santa, they keep believing in God. Lewis would say this is because God is real, but Mr. Dawkins fears it is the lasting damage of fairy tales. While Mr. Dawkins stands ironically alongside Puritans in his readiness to ban fairy tales, Christian apologists like Lewis and Chesterton embraced them, precisely because to embrace Christian dogma is to embrace the extrarational.

    "Today's Christian apologists, by contrast, seek to reason their way to God by means of archaeological finds, anthropological examinations and scientific argumentation. That's all well and good, but it seems to miss a fundamental point illuminated by Chesterton, which is that, ultimately, belief in God is belief in mystery."