Priest 'ruins Christmas' for kids
By David Willey
BBC News, Rome
Dozens of parents complained after the priest let out the Santa secret
A Catholic priest has been criticised by parents in a city in northern Italy for telling their children that Father Christmas does not really exist.
Father Dino Bottino, the parish priest of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Novara, let out the secret at a children's mass earlier this month.
A local paper published complaints from dozens of parents. "You've ruined my children's Christmas," said one mother.
But an unrepentant Fr Bottino called it his duty to set the record straight.
"I told the children that Father Christmas was an invention that had nothing to do with the Christian Christmas story," he said.
"And I would repeat it again, if I had the chance," he added.
But Father Dino could not have imagined the scorn that would be heaped upon him after he told children at mass that neither Father Christmas - nor the kindly witch called the Befana who provides presents on 6 January to Italian children - really exist.
The priest said he had never intended to hurt anyone, but it was his duty to distinguish the reality of Jesus from the story of Father Christmas which was a fable just like Cinderella or Snow White.
So, it's been quiet 'round here for a few days. I really haven't had much to say and my energy for blogging is petering out a bit. Christmastime is pretty overwhelming. Tomorrow, I can't believe is Christmas Eve. I haven't done my baking. I also don't have any big plans. I promised to help with the Children's Mass, to make sure the children get their cues. They will reenact the gospel and help with the intercessions. The children portraying Mary and Joseph will help bring up the gifts for Communion, so I gotta watch out to make sure some of them hit their cues. I've never been to a Children's Mass, not even when I was a child, so I'm looking forward to it. But it's so early and I have to be there at 3:30. I have such a way of lazing a day away, that if I don't get up early tomorrow, I will do that and not get anything done by the time it's time to go to the Mass.
There's way too much snow to venture out to walk Canyon Road to view the Farolitos and Lumnarias. I usually go with friends but this year, I haven't made any plans. My mom wants to go to Midnight Mass again this year at the Cathedral. I have other friends who may want to go. The choir performs Carols and there are lessons before the Mass starts so I may go to that then. I really don't want to go again to my parish for the 8:30 Mass, which will also be preceded by Carols and Lessons, but if we don't make it to the Midnight Mass, we'll go to the 8:30. We'll open presents after either service, so it doesn't really matter which we go to. We always open gifts on Christmas Eve.
My neighbor has invited me over to her house as well, I thought I might stop by between the Children's Mass and going over to my parents' house for the evening. Speaking of the parents, they have a Labaradoodle staying with them and their Poddle Doodle. She lives down the street but was out (she's always out) I don't think her owner cares much for her. I had to really coax her to come inside their house (food and chicken jerky dog treats did the trick). She was all full of snowballs and her foot looked like it was bleeding. Everyone in the neighborhood watches out for her but it's shameful that she really doesn't seem to have a loving home. It's bitter cold, with about 6 inches of snow and wind like crazy. No dog should be outside in weather like this. She's always outside and maybe we're butting in by sheltering her for the night but it's too heartbreaking to leave her outside. She's very docile and very sweet. I don't know what will happen to her-- but at least tonight she's warm and dry.
So... now about this article I posted. I'm a bit disheartened that this priest shattered the myth of Santa Claus for all these little kids. Granted most children believe in Santa Claus-- even my 3rd grade Catechism students still believe. I don't think it is my place to shatter their belief. In time, they learn the truth. Some don't believe at all. I think it's something for parents to decide, not their parish priest. In fact, after last Sunday's Mass, Santa showed up bearing gifts for the little kids.
Parents can tell their children that Santa originated from St. Nicholas and teach them about him and celebrate his saint day on December 6th. In parts of Europe, the story goes that the Baby Jesus brings the presents on Christmas Eve. In Spain, El Dia the Los Reyes Magos is celebrated on Jan 6, as tradition states that's when the Three Kings,(The Magi or the Wise Men) arrived bearing gifts for the Christ Child. That's certainly a tradition worth celebrating.
I think as long as parents teach their children the true meaning of Christmas, that it's not all about getting presents, but a time to learn about the birth of our Savior, a time to teach them about compassion, to show them the goodness of giving and helping others, rather than thinking about themselves first.