Bah humbug priest tells pupils Santa doesn’t exist (but don’t worry, their head teacher has put them right)

Parents say Father Dennis Higgins was just “plain mean” after he – erroneously – told children as young as seven that Father Christmas has nothing to do with Christmas

Father Dennis Higgins

Father Dennis Higgins 
A head teacher has reassured puzzled pupils that he’s spoken to Father Christmas to clear up any confusion caused by a priest told them Santa did not exist.
Angry parents said Father Dennis Higgins was “plain mean” after he upset the youngsters by telling them the jolly man in the red suit was a fake.
The stark sermon was handed out during mass at a nearby secondary school where pupils from the primary school were invited to celebrate the forthcoming festive season.
Instead of tidings of joy they got a message about the real meaning of Christmas during which it was made clear the festive season had nothing to do with Santa and his sleigh full of toys.
His comments have split his congregation with many coming out in support of the curmudgeonly cleric.
But while the debate rumbled on Brendan Hickey, head teacher at St Thomas More Catholic School in Buxton, Derbyshire, knew just what to do so he got on the phone to the North Pole.
He said: “I want to reassure all year three pupils at St Anne’s, and their parents, that I have personally spoken to Father Christmas and told him about what has happened.
“He was sorry to hear about the confusion and has promised me that he will arrange for his elves to write to each of the children and reassure them that he will definitely be coming to visit them this Christmas.”
The pupils from St Anne’s primary school in the town were at the service along with 11 and 12-years-old from St Thomas More secondary school.
One parent, who did not wish to be identified, said: “How dare he say such things to such young children? To try and take away the magic of Christmas is just plain mean.
“It really saddens me that someone who people should respect and look up to can do something so mean.”
When Father Higgins, who is based at St Anne’s Catholic Church in Buxton, was asked to explain his comments he launched into a tirade.
But supporters of the priest have rallied to his defence and a Facebook page has been set up entitled Support Father Higgins.
The page reads: “This page is being set up on behalf of Father Dennis Higgins who has dedicated his life to God and the Church. He has been a pillar of Buxton’s community.”
Sue Burkinshaw wrote: “Father Higgins is in his 80’s, he’s a good and decent man, still working when he could have retired long ago bless him.
“Can’t see many parents working as hard as he does when they reach that age. Get a grip.”
Sheryl Anne Ellison added: “I know Father Dennis, he keeps it real in every sense, even with regard to the bible and gospel.”
“He is an honest, true, courageous man, who strives for justice, fairness and compassion.”
“I have nothing but respect for the man and I think those who spew bile should aim it in another direction, certainly not at him.”
“The school is Catholic, Christmas is a Christian festival celebrating the birth of Christ. If you send your kids – deal with it.”
But Father Andrew Cole, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham, which includes Buxton and the surrounding area, said he apologised for Father Higgins’ “intemperate language” after he was asked about the matter.
He said: “Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, especially for our children.
“On the first Christmas Day, God gave us his most precious gift, Jesus, who shows us how to love God and one another.
“We celebrate Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem by putting up Christmas trees and decorations, singing carols, sending cards, giving each other presents, and spending time with those we love most.
“Father Christmas is always a welcome visitor in our homes, and we will all be looking forward to his arrival on Christmas Day, including me.”
Father Higgins is the not the first priest to tell children Father Christmas has nothing to do with Christmas.
Last year the Church of England’s Reverend Simon Tatton-Brown questioned Santa’s existence.
The vicar of St Andrew’s Church in Chippenham, Wiltshire, then apologised.

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