Archbishop of Colombo bans Christmas trees and parties in churches

Thu 24 Dec 2015
By Aaron James

The Archbishop of Colombo has told priests not to put up Christmas trees in churches because he says it detracts from the true meaning of the celebration.

According to the Colombo Telegraph, His Eminence Malcolm Ranjith initially issued the ban in a private letter to priests in his archdiocese

This which was then published by one of them in the official church newspaper.

It is unknown whether the letter was purposely or mistakenly published publically.

A photograph acquired by the newspaper shows the notice in the church newspaper which says:

* Christmas concerts are not permitted inside the Churches
* Avoid putting up Christmas trees inside the Churches

It then reads: "These do not comply to the sacred significance of Christmas but are more connected to social and family celebrations of Christmas."

Revd Ignatius Varnakulasingam, a priest in Colombo, told the BBC: "The Christmas tree is not a liturgical symbol.

"Even in the Vatican the Christmas tree is put in Vatican Square outside the church.

"[It is] sad to say now in the USA they don't say 'happy Christmas', but 'happy holidays'."

When questioned if the Church was taking the fun out of Christmas, Revd Varnakulasingam said: "I understand that also. There should be happiness."

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