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Brunei’s Catholics celebrate Christmas without incident

January 06, 2016

Amid a ban on Christmas celebrations outside of Christian communities, Brunei’s Catholics celebrated the feast without incident, according to the nation’s leading prelate.

Under recent government regulations, Muslims who send Christmas greetings, use Christmas trees or lights, wear Santa hats, or otherwise commemorate Christmas face up to five years in prison.

“To be honest, I am not sure the absence of ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Frosty the Snowman’ in malls adversely impacts the thinking Christian’s observance of this special period,” said Bishop Cornelius Sim, the vicar apostolic of Brunei. “Santa Claus as portrayed in popular culture is hardly an adequate let alone appropriate representation of what Christmas is about!”

“It was heartening to see our Catholics come to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a simple but joyous way,” he added. “Catholics in this country have always been able to practice their faith publicly as a worshipping community and look forward to continuing to do so in the time to come.”

Brunei, a Southeast Asian nation of 416,000, is 79% Muslim, 9% Christian, and 8% Buddhist. The nation has three parishes and 1,900 Catholics.


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