Metro-East News

Bishop apologizes for upsetting students with Santa remarks during school visit

Santa arrives in Belleville

This file BND video shows a large crowd enjoying the annual Santa Parade sponsored by the Belleville Optimist Club.
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This file BND video shows a large crowd enjoying the annual Santa Parade sponsored by the Belleville Optimist Club.

A Queen of Peace parent said the Bishop went back to the school on Tuesday and apologized for upsetting the fifth and sixth graders with his remarks last week about Santa Claus and Halloween.

School and diocese officials confirmed the visit by Bishop Edward Braxton but did not comment on the content of his remarks.

The Bishop provided handouts about Christmas called “Happy Easter, A Christmas Reflection” that he wrote in 2015, said Judy Hoffman, who works in the diocese office. The handout reflects some of Braxton’s first remarks to the children about St. Nicholas “whose appearance and name have unfortunately been transformed into the secular, fictitious ‘Santa Claus.’”

“It takes a big person to admit they made a mistake. He showed a little humility and I think that will go a long way,” said Ray Schott, who has a daughter in kindergarten whom he was trying to shield from the Bishop’s remarks on Santa.

Braxton also told students Tuesday that he and his brothers had written letters to Santa Claus as children, a parent said.

Last week, Braxton told the fifth and sixth grade students at Queen of Peace that there was no Santa Claus, comments that infuriated many parents. On Thursday, the superintendent of schools said the children had misunderstood the Bishop’s message, which had further enraged parents on social media.

“These kids are exposed to so much, so early. (Santa) is the last pure thing in a child’s life,” Schott said earlier.

Mary Cooley: 618-239-2535; @MaryCooleyBND
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