'No one wants a digital Christmas,' says Church leader

Christmas decorations on Edinburgh's George Street(Photo: Unsplash/Ross Sneddon)

The Bishop of Paisley has hit back at suggestions that people should "get their digital Christmas ready".

Scotland's national clinical director Jason Leitch has been dubbed the Grinch after saying there was "absolutely no question" of a normal Christmas for Scots this year. 

Contradicting First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has said it is too early to say what restrictions will be in place at Christmas, Leitch told BBC Radio Scotland it was "fiction" to think that families would be getting together for the traditional turkey lunch come 25 December.

The Right Rev John Keenan, Bishop of Paisley, was among the critics of his comments.

"No one wants a digital Christmas," he told The Times.

"Squashing false expectations is one thing, but no one wants to dampen people's hopes. Hope is perhaps the most precious commodity we possess.

"Without it we will fail to combat this pandemic, we will fail to care for ourselves and for others and we will fail to build a future for the next generation growing up in the midst of fear.

"We must be very careful that we do not extinguish hope, the consequences of that would be devastating." 

In a separate statement, the Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, convener of the Faith Impact Forum of the Church of Scotland, said Chrimstas was likely to be more "low-key" this year.

"Christmas this year might feel very different to what we're used to but despite the challenges, Church congregations are continuing to offer support and services, prayers and meetings using technology, as well as limited in-person worship gatherings," she said. 

"We will be praying for people who have lost loved ones and those who are suffering due to the impact of COVID-19 and for all those who will, for whatever reason, find the Christmas period difficult, emotionally and psychologically.

"We expect celebrations this year will be smaller and low-key, but in the quieter moments there may be the opportunity to reflect on who and what really matters at Christmas and on the Christmas story itself.

"For Christians it is about the miracle of the baby Jesus, his birth symbolic of God's deep love for all and who touched this earth to bring humanity the peace and hope we need as individuals, communities, nations and as a world."