BELLEVILLE, IL — Some southern Illinois parents are upset after a bishop told students at a Belleville Catholic school that Santa Claus didn’t exist. He wasn’t big on Halloween, either, claiming the kids shouldn’t celebrate a holiday that mocks the dead.
Bishop Edward K. Braxton made the comments Tuesday to fifth- and sixth-graders at Our Lady Queen of Peace School, according to the Belleville News-Democrat. It didn’t take long for parents — such as Boyd Ahlers, who has a fifth-grade son and sixth-grade daughter at the school — to express their outrage.
“I told [my son] … it was something that shouldn’t have been said,” Anderson told the News-Democrat. “[Santa Claus] was something that was done for the child, the joy of the child to experience Christmas … the spirit of Christmas, and eventually he would have learned.”
Students around the school had been talking about Braxton’s comments, and there was a fear that the younger kids would find out, Ahlers added. One parent’s son came home in tears after the bishop’s revelation.
“It’s my job to tell [my son], not his,” Ray Schott, who also has a daughter in kindergarten at the school, told the News-Democrat.
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The bishop’s office would not comment about the remarks Wednesday. The school would only confirm that the clergyman had visited Tuesday.
Braxton spoke at another Belleville school Wednesday, but that didn’t cause as big a stir. Students at Blessed Sacrament School asked about the priest sex abuse scandal and celebrities the bishop met, Principal Claire Hatch told the News-Democrat. Braxton also asked the kids what their Halloween costumes would be, she added.
Other parents with kids in Belleville Catholic schools have said they would keep their children out the day Braxton was coming, according to the News-Democrat.
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