PC Christmas: Don't mention the 'C' word
Brisbane's Archbishop John Bathersby has commented that the conscious effort by public figures to avoid mentioning the word 'Christmas' is a "sad reflection" of an increasingly secular society.
"Christmas" is being replaced by euphemisms like "season's greetings", "festive season" and even "here's cheers". Typical is Queensland Premier Peter Beattie and his wife's "season greetings and best wishes for the New Year" inside a card depicting Brisbane's Goodwill Bridge on the front.
"There doesn't seem much point in trying to fudge the fact that it is a Christian celebration," said Archbishop Bathersby. "We've become a pretty secular nation. Sadly I think we're losing the meaning of what Christmas is all about."
Religious leaders are more conscious of the secularisation of Christmas this year following French President Chirac's moves to legislate secularism, which Perth Archbishop Barry Hickey described as "absurd and dangerous".
Even anti-Discrimination Commissioner Ms Susan Booth told the Queensland Sunday Mail that she thinks the effort to avoid offence is an over-reaction, and that it is "not unlawful in any way" to send a card wishing someone a Merry Christmas.
Meanwhile Sydney's Cardinal George Pell has struck back in his Christmas message, asserting that while it's "not difficult to miss the message of Christmas", Christ "jars our ordinary everyday ways of thinking".
He warns against a "vague spirituality which leaves selfishness in place", insisting that "we are not devotees of a non-person, of the forces of nature, of Mother Earth".
He says the all-important "struggle between good and evil" requires the faithful to proclaim that "the Christ child is the Son of God; son of the transcendent God who is the lord of history and the creator of the universe".
Other Church leaders alluded instead to the struggle between rich and poor, with Anglican Primate Peter Carnley referring to the wealth gap in society and Uniting Church head Dean Drayton invoking the plight of refugees and asked that some of the federal surplus be spent on alleviating child poverty.
However Sydney's Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen raised the concern of increasing secularism, noting that "each year it's getting harder to hear the carols".
Why they're avoiding the 'C' word (Sunday Mail 21/12/03)
Christmas Message 2003: Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney
Christ back in Christmas (The Australian 23/12/03)
Archbishop Peter Jensen: Christmas Message 2003
Perth archbishop backs Premier's stand on religious freedom (CathNews 19/12/03)
French leader supports ban on religious symbols in schools (CathNews 18/12/03)
23 Dec 2003