A Roman Catholic diocese in Sicily has had to issue an apology after its bishop told a group of children that Santa isn’t real. The diocese of Noto said Bishop Antonio Stagliano was trying to underline the true meaning of Christmas.
The diocesan communications director, the Reverand Alessandro Paolino, said Mr Stagliano was also trying to explain the story of St Nicholas, a bishop who gave gifts to the poor and was persecuted by a Roman emperor. Quotes from the bishop appeared in the local media saying that Santa doesn’t exist and that his red costume was created by Coca-Cola.
“First of all, on behalf of the bishop, I express my sorrow for this declaration which has created disappointment in the little ones, and want to specify that Monsignor Stagliano’s intentions were quite different,” Mr Paolino wrote on the diocesan Facebook page.
“We certainly must not demolish the imagination of children, but draw good examples from it that are positive for life,” he added.
“So Santa Claus is an effective image to convey the importance of giving, generosity, sharing. But when this image loses its meaning, you see Santa Claus aka consumerism, the desire to own, buy, buy and buy again, then you have to revalue it by giving it a new meaning.”
Some furious parents are not accepting the apology, however. Some went as far as to say that the bishop’s comments that Santa isn’t real had crushed the spirits of children two weeks before Christmas.
“You are the demonstration that, when it comes to families, children and family education, you don’t understand a thing,” wrote one commenter, Mary Avola.
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