The Italian bishop who allegedly told a group of children that Santa Claus does not exist has admitted that he was one of the children that Santa missed out when he was younger.
He claimed that the white-bearded figure had not bothered with him, because his dad did not have a job and could not pay for the gift, and that the real St Nicholas would not have distinguished between rich and poor.
Monsignor Antonio Stagliano, the bishop of Noto, which is a city in the province of Syracuse, on the southern Italian island of Sicily, made international headlines when he allegedly told a group of children that Father Christmas did not exist.
And now he has defended his speech and doubled down, saying that he only meant that the jolly, red-suited figure who brings children presents, is nothing more than the product of a “consumer society”.
The Bishop is quoted in local Italian media outlet Fanpage as claiming that he never said that Santa Claus does not exist. He said: “In reality I never said this. I made a long speech to explain the difference between real figures and invented figures, imaginary ones.
“And then, if we want to be honest, when I asked ‘Do you know who invented Santa Claus?’, it was the mayor who spoke and said ‘Coca Cola’.”
He added: “Santa Claus is a product of the supermarket”, a symbol of the “consumer society”.
He joked that this was the real reason why he had made international headlines. He said he had gone after a figure “with which so many people make money”, adding jokingly that “this is not allowed.”
He added: “The figure of Santa Claus, I explained to the children, is inspired by the real figure of San Nicola da Mira- adds the prelate to this magazine – And St. Nicholas, unlike Santa Claus, did not distinguish between rich children and poor children.
“Santa Claus only visits the homes of children who have parents who can afford to buy them a gift . I remember that when I was a child one year he did not visit my house, because that year my father did not work.”
Stagliano also explained that he said what he said “to invite the children, if anything, to open their hearts.”
He added: “To ask that the gifts also go to those who do not have the resources to buy them. Are we not losing the meaning of the words, symbols and actions that as Christians, Catholics, should be the meaning of Christmas?”
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