A ROMAN Catholic diocese in Italy was forced to apologise after a Bishop told a group of children that Santa doesn't exist leaving parents outraged.
Bishop Antonio Staglianò from the diocese of Noto in Sicily dropped the bombshell statement while trying to explain the meaning of Christmas.
The comments reportedly came during an event held on the feast day of Saint Nicholas – a bishop who is the patron saint of children and gave gifts to the poor.
"No, Santa Claus does not exist," Bishop told the kids,according to Sicilian media.
"In fact, I would add that the red of the suit he wears was chosen by Coca Cola exclusively for advertising purposes."
Communications director of the diocese, Rev Alessandro Paolino, said that the Bishop did not mean the comments he made.
“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,” Rev Paolino wrote on a Facebook post on Friday.
He went on to say that people must not forget the meaning of Saint Nicholas which is based on the importance of giving, generosity and sharing.
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"We certainly must not demolish the imagination of children, but draw good examples from it that are positive for life.
"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."
A number of parents under the post refused the apology made while others welcomed the Bishop's attempt to focus on the Catholic meaning of Christmas.
"I really wish more Christians would acknowledge the pagan roots of the winter solstice holiday and stop pretending it has anything at all to do with the birth of Jesus," one fumed.
"The Bishop of Noto did very well," another said.
"Enough with the consumerism that parents teach their children from a young age."
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