Roman Catholic Diocese Apologizes to Parents After Bishop Tells Children Santa Does Not Exist

A man wearing a Santa Claus costume checks his mobile phone as he waits to pose for pictures at a shopping centre in Rome. Pic: AP

Parents became outraged after a bishop told their children that Santa Claus does not exist. This was enough to have the Roman Catholic diocese in Sicily to apologize to the parents.

In a Facebook post and subsequent comments Friday, the diocese of Noto insisted that Bishop Antonio Stagliano didn’t mean to dash the dreams of the youngsters two weeks before Christmas.

The diocesan communications director, the Rev. Alessandro Paolino, said Stagliano was trying to underline the true meaning of Christmas and the story of St. Nicholas, a bishop who gave gifts to the poor and was persecuted by a Roman emperor.

“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,” 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 continued. “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.”

While several welcomed the bishop’s attempt to focus on the Catholic meaning of Christmas, others faulted Stagliano for interfering with family traditions and celebrations, and crushing the spirits of children whose early years were disrupted by the pandemic.

– Ella Breedlove