Worshippers at the Catholic cathedral in Resistencia in north-western Argentina could barely believe their ears when their archbishop demonised Christmas' jolliest figure.
Archbishop Fabriciano Sigampa called Santa Claus a "fat, red man" who had no business in the Christmas celebrations of Christianity.
Even little children "should know that they get presents only because of the efforts of their parents and with the help of Jesus", Sigampa was quoted as saying by the online news portal Corrientesya on Tuesday.
Santa provoked Sigampa after a local civil society group solicited help from local sponsors to build a Santa Claus House in the square outside the cathedral.
Children were urged to submit their Christmas wish lists at the house, and poor children were to receive gifts from the project.
The archbishop dismissed the project as a commercial advertisement that had nothing to do with Christmas.
To avoid further strife with the church, the village quickly renamed the house Christmas House.
And the fat, red man had to take off his costume.