BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Monday, 16 December, 2002, 08:21 GMT
Bishop attacks 'false' Christmas image
Lichfield Cathedral
The bishop was installed at Lichfield Cathedral in 1984
Jesus was born to a single mother, Mary and Joseph were asylum seekers and the three wise men were a part of an assassination plot, a senior church figure has said.

The Bishop of Lichfield, the Right Reverend Keith Sutton, made the statements in his Christmas message.

He also attacked the "superficial sentimental" image of Christmas pop songs as false and said shepherds, portrayed as lovable characters in nativity plays, were actually on the fringes of society.

The 67-year-old Church of England bishop said the reality of the Christmas story was very different.

Bishop Keith Sutton
Bishop Sutton has strong views
"It's a story of a baby born to an unmarried mother from a religious family - with all the cultural and social pressures you can imagine," he said.

"Mary and Joseph were forced to flee as refugees and seek asylum in Egypt.

"And the wise men, in addition to bearing gifts, were on a mission from Herod to discover the whereabouts of the Baby Jesus so he could be killed."

'Painful time'

He said for many people, Christmas was "a real chore" and he urged people to think of the lonely.

"For some people it is more than a chore - it is the most painful time of the year," he said.

"For love to be real, it is not the thought that counts but what you do about it."

Bishop Sutton, who is due to retire at Easter, is known for his strong views on issues such as the treatment of asylum seekers in the UK.


Click here for more from BBC Stoke & Staffordshire
See also:

10 Dec 02 | England
09 Dec 02 | England
24 Dec 01 | UK
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes