An explanation, of course, is in order. It's not the jolly old elf who lives at the North Pole with toy-crafting elves and flying reindeer. No, Virginia, this is a decidedly more politicized Claus, an ordained bishop from Nevada with the likeness and legal name of his famous doppelganger.
And this Santa Claus is angry. Last week, in a scathing, widely distributed press release, Claus called out the church for its failure to institute sufficient reform in the wake of clergy sex abuse scandals. He also suggested that he may sue the church to force change.
"Bishop Santa intends 'to explore and utilize a variety of legal means,'" the statement read in part, "'to hold the Roman Catholic Church, especially the pope and Vatican, accountable for the suffering of many thousands of vulnerable children at the hands of clergy, straight and gay, young and old, celibate or not.'"
But sue the Catholic Church? Who is this Santa Claus?
According to Washoe County, Nev., he's 63-year-old Thomas O'Connor, a Lake Tahoe man who legally changed his name to Santa Claus (no middle initial) in 2005. A look at his website -- yes, Virginia, Claus has a website -- reveals that he was recently elevated to the title of missionary bishop in the Apostles' Anglican Church, an ecumenical Christian denomination based in Ohio and Michigan.
AOL News spoke with the presiding bishop of the Apostles' Anglican Church, Bishop Lawrence Cameron, and confirmed that Claus is, indeed, a bishop. As a missionary bishop, Claus does not preside over a geographical territory or diocese.
AOL News also contacted representatives for two of the nation's largest governing bodies of Anglicanism -- the Anglican Church in North America and the Episcopal Church -- and neither had heard of Claus' organization.
In an interview with AOL News, Claus explained why a man of his name and position would target the Catholic Church. "No one's stepped up to the plate. Of all people, why not Santa Claus?"
The answer may also lie in his outspoken critique of the holiday for which his namesake is known. "I'm opposed to the crass commercial spectacle that Christmas has become," he said. "Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of Christ."
So this isn't just someone making a list and checking it twice -- unless it's a list of grievances. This is someone who's taking the image of Santa in a bold new direction.
"My gift apparently lies with legislators who can have broad impact with thousands of children," he added.
Claus says he hasn't attempted to contact the Catholic Church and has no intentions to do so. It also remains to be seen whether the Catholic Church in the United States is concerned about -- or even aware of -- him. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the nation's official Catholic leadership group, didn't respond to a request for comment from AOL News.
However, should the Catholic Church fire back, Claus isn't worried about the repercussions. "I'm not Catholic," he pointed out, "so I can't be excommunicated."
As Claus attempts to ruffle cassocks, some are wary of him using Santa Claus' name and likeness to promote a political agenda.
Elaine Gainer, owner of Santa's Village, a theme park in Jefferson, N.H., believes that Santa Claus' image should only be that of "a joyful, loving gent."
"For the past 58 years," Gainer said of Santa's role at Santa's Village, "he's been non-controversial. He likes to give, not give his opinion."
Addressing Claus' strident activism, Gainer added, "It seems he's being a critical person, and I'm not sure that's what Santa is about."
No, this Santa is about much more. In addition to being a bishop, Claus claims to be a monk and part-time employee for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And as if that weren't enough, he also managed to run as an independent write-in candidate in the 2008 presidential election.
"I got more votes than Al Gore," Claus boasted. Backpedaling, he added, "But he wasn't running in that election."