Catholic bishops are in the process of declaring the Christmas holiday a “sacred” one and an “inherently Christian” one.

The Vatican has made the decision after Pope Francis, who has championed the idea of a “Christian Christmas”, said last year that it is not a “holidays” but “an eternal gift”.

“We are declaring a Christian Christmas, which is the most sacred day of the year, as the day on which Christ is glorified,” Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the pope’s right-hand man, told the Pontifical Council for Legislative Text in Rome.

The Church’s bishops are also asking that “the celebration of Christmas as the Day of the Lord” be recognised as a “holy” day of Christian worship.

“It is an intrinsic part of the Christian faith,” the pontiff said.

“This is the day of God and it is also the day for the celebration of the life of Jesus Christ, the Christ.”

Pope Francis has been making the decision a priority, in part because of the impact his election of Pope Francis has had on the Catholic Church.

Last year, he signed into law the historic papal encyclical, Laudato Si’, which encouraged Catholics to celebrate Christmas as a day of “love and joy”.

In 2015, he urged Catholics to “look to the light” and “to the great gift” of Jesus as “the key to all our prayers”.

On the eve of the Christmas celebrations, the Catholic Conference of the Americas released a statement saying it “cannot ignore the great role” of Christmas in the Catholic community.

“Christmas is the celebration that connects us to our Creator,” it said.

It added that Christmas was also a day to “understand God and live his message of love”.

The Catholic Church has also been increasingly calling for “sacrifices” in the name of Jesus and his life.

The Pontiff has spoken about his desire to celebrate the feast of Saint Nicholas, a venerated figure in the Roman Catholic faith, but also said it was a time for “gratitude, hope, charity and charity”.

But critics have questioned the pontiffs decision to recognise Christmas as “a day of joy” and to give the “gift” of the holiday to all who are born and die on the day.

The head of the American Catholic Conference, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, said the “puzzling” move “would put Christmas back into the purview of a pope who was in his second year of office”.

“It would make the celebration a bit of a double-edged sword,” he said.

The decision to declare the Christmas festival “sacrosanct” could be a precursor to a new proposal by the Vatican to allow priests to perform mass on the eve and a new law to allow religious holidays on par with the national holiday.

The Vatican, which already allows priests to observe Mass on Christmas, is also considering extending that to the day after Easter, the day before Easter and Christmas.