An Italian bishop in Sicily went to hell for telling children – on Saint Nicholas’ Day – that Santa Claus did not exist. After angry reactions from the parents, he made a public apology, according to an Italian media report.
Antonio Stagliano, Bishop of Noto in Sicily, was recently at an event in honor of Saint Nicholas, generous Bishop of Myra (4th century) and “rival” of Santa Claus. There he said to the children: No, Papa Claus does not exist. In fact, Coca-Cola chose the red color for the suit he wears for advertising purposes.”
His statements spread widely on social media. While some welcome the bishop’s desire to place more emphasis on the Catholic significance of the celebration, many Fathers blame Staglianò for disrupting family traditions.
The Diocese of Noto quickly posted an apology on its Facebook page. “First of all, on behalf of the bishop, I express my regret for this statement, which disappointed the children,” wrote Father Alessandro Paolini, a spokesman for the diocese. “I want to make it clear that this was not Monsieur Staglian’s intention at all.”
According to Paolini, the bishop wanted to make children more aware of the “meaning of Christmas” and its beautiful traditions. “We must certainly not destroy children’s imagination, but we must draw from it good examples that are positive for life,” the statement read. “So Santa Claus is an effective representation of the importance of giving, generosity and sharing.”
Staglianò wants to restore the “beauty” of Christmas, because in his eyes it is “commercial” and “unChristian”. Everything, he says, revolves around “the desire to own, buy and buy again.”
If all of us, young and old, can learn a lesson from the character of Santa Claus — which comes from Saint Nicholas, it is this: fewer gifts to “create” and “consume” and more “gifts” to share,” Paolini wrote in the statement.
In an interview with the newspaper Republic Staglianò himself says: “I did not tell them that Santa Claus does not exist, but we did talk about the need to distinguish between what is real and what is not.” According to the bishop, Christmas is no longer a Christian holiday. “Christmas lights and shopping have replaced Christmas.”
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