Christmas has been taking quite a beating of late, especially when it comes to being politically correct about the name of the festive season. But now, it looks like a Catholic priest wants to make a big change as well.

Father Desmond O'Donnell of the Cleenish parish in Ireland's Fermanagh County has called on his parishioners to abandon the word Christmas, claiming it has been corrupted by consumerism.

"We've lost Christmas, just like we lost Easter, and should abandon the word completely," he told the Belfast Telegraph in a 17 November interview. "We need to let it go, it's already been hijacked and we just need to recognise and accept that."

Despite the strong words, Fr O'Donnell stressed that he does not want to end celebrations during the Christian festival. "I am not seeking to take anything away from anyone, I am simply asking that space be preserved for believers for whom Christmas has nothing to do with Santa and Reindeer," he explained.

"My religious experience of true Christmas, like so many others, is very deep and real - like the air I breathe."

The Oblate priest, who is a registered psychologist and author, said that he still supported the idea of Christians celebrating Christmas by "going out for meals and enjoying a glass of wine". "But the commercialisation of anything is never good," he added.

O'Donnell wants to rescue the reality of Christmas by giving up 'Christmas' and replacing it with another word. However, he is not very optimistic of it actually happening but warned that being apathetic could have dire consequences.

"It will mean that secularisation and modern life will continue to launder the Church," he said. "It will start to institutionally break down, I've already seen it happening around the world in Malta, Poland and Uruguay, and it's starting to happen in Ireland," he added, comparing it to watching the same movie over and over again.