An Italian Church Had to Apologize After a Bishop Told Kids Santa Isn’t Real

Catholicism ruins everything, even Christmas

Cookies for Santa displayed in front of a Christmas tree
Cookies for Jesus?
Swell Media

As a former child raised in the Catholic faith, I can confirm that there are many things kids who grow up Catholic may one day come to resent about their religious upbringing. In addition to the sexual repression and constant reminders of mortality, an unfortunate group of youngsters who were subjected to the senseless Santa spoilers of an Italian bishop will have yet another thing to add to that list of grievances against Catholicism.

A church in Noto in Sicily has issued an apology after Bishop Antonio Staglianò took it upon himself to inform a church full of innocent children that Santa isn’t real during an event celebrating the feast day of Saint Nicholas last week.

“No, Santa Claus does not exist. In fact, I would add that the red of the suit he wears was chosen by Coca-Cola exclusively for advertising purposes,” Staglianò said, as reported by Italian outlet Il Quotidiano del Sud.

While he may not be wrong about the whole Coca-Cola thing, this still seems a little harsh. In a subsequent Facebook post, Reverend Alessandro Paolino, the communications director for the diocese of Noto, apologized for Staglianò’s comments, and attempted to clarify that the man was only trying to keep the Christ in Christmas.

“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 Staglianò’s intentions were quite different,” Paolino wrote.

In his own statement, Staglianò defended his Santa spoiling ways, claiming that the jolly old elf and his commercializing ways have gotten in the way of the real meaning of Christmas, or whatever. According to Staglianò, he was just trying to teach the children “about the need to distinguish what is real from what is not.” A jolly white-bearded man who gifts presents to children? A dangerous lie that threatens good Christian values. An all-powerful deity and his immaculately conceived son, on the other hand? As real as it gets, baby.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t feel free to believe in the higher power of their choice. I’m just saying that children believing in Santa Claus is no more harmful (indeed, probably far less harmful) than grown ass adults believing some dude in the sky wants them to hate gay people.

Because I have a bit of a reputation for being a cynical little misanthrope, people often assume I am anti-Santa. On the contrary, I am actually anti people who rob children of the joy of Santa on the grounds that it’s wrong to lie. Like the vast majority of children who grew up believing in Santa, I have never resented my parents for “lying” to me in the name of Christmas magic. In fact, I’d hazard that most children probably resent their parents far less for spinning some white Santa lies than for raising them Catholic.

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