The National Catholic Review

Thanks Archbishop Fabriciano!!

Your pal, 

Children everywhere

 

Argentine archbishop slams Santa Claus

(AFP) – 1 day ago

BUENOS AIRES — A Roman Catholic archbishop surprised his parishioners in Argentina by telling the children that Santa Claus was not real, but instead a commercialized symbol of 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."

After the bishop aired his objections, organizers dropped plans for a Santa and renamed the cabin the "House of Christmas."

Sigampa has attracted controversy before.

In the 1990s, he caused a stir by ordering a mural for the cathedral of the northern city of La Rioja that showed the Virgin Mary with then president Carlos Menem and members of the Catholic hierarchy.

Comments

David Cruz-Uribe | 12/16/2010 - 4:39pm
A good point about how Christmas customs depend on the country.  A quick websearch turned up the fact that Argentinians have a custom of "Father Christmas" who brings presents on Christmas.  Children leave out their shoes to receive them.  I could not find any images of him, but since the article above refers to "Father Christmas" and not Santa, and the bishop is railing against a fat man in red, I would assume he looks something like Santa.
JOHN CREAMER JR MR | 12/16/2010 - 2:31pm
It should be noted that most countries have their own traditions regarding Christmas.  Most of them involve gifts for kids.  We don't have to have Santa to have gifts for kids.  Globalization and American hegemony brings Santa into many other countries. 

I don't think you should apply American notions of Santa to this situation without knowing more about Argentina's customs.  If Santa is new to Argentina, and given the commercialization and secularization of Christmas in the U.S, then I can sympathize with the archbishop. 

David Cruz-Uribe | 12/16/2010 - 11:28am
If the Incarnation is about the Father giving his Son and the self-giving of the Son to empty himself and become one with his creation, then Santa Claus can easily be integrated into our understanding of Christmas.  I note that the Santa the bishop was objecting to was going to collect toys for poor children, making giving integral to the experience.  Yes, Santa has been commercialized and is often reduced to a symbol of crass materialism.  He does not have to be:  he can be a wonderful exercise in imagination and fantasy that does not detract from the true meaning(s) of Christmas. 

On another note:  "Virginia" is a proper Spanish name and I have an Argentinian friend named Virginia.  There is no need for the pseudo-hispanization of adding "-ita" to the end of it
JOHN SULLIVAN | 12/16/2010 - 8:31am
Lighten up Smith, children's believing in santa claus doesn't detract from the real meaning of Christmas.