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Pope Francis has denounced the EU’s attempt to replace the term “Christmas period” with a more-neutral “holiday period,” saying it was a move that some oppressive regime might well have made.
The European Commission last week made a U-turn on its language replacement after a public backlash, including from the Vatican. Pope Francis minced no words as he decried, during a flight home from Cyprus and Greece, what he saw as an ill-advised idea.
“In history many, many dictatorships have tried to do so,” the Pope was cited as telling journalists.
Think of Napoleon: From there … think of the Nazi dictatorship, the communist one… it is the fashion of watered-down secularism… But this is something that, throughout, hasn’t worked.
The EU, the pontiff added, should “be careful not to take the path of ideological colonization,” since otherwise it will only cause division among its members, leading to a fall of the entire bloc.
“The European Union must respect each country as it is structured within, the variety of countries, and not want to make them uniform,” he said, adding that he was according Brussels the benefit of the doubt in this particular case.
The resolution to change existing wording appeared in a guidebook on “inclusive communications” that advised EU bureaucrats on how to make their messaging more accommodating to minority groups. “Christmas” was deemed unsuitable because adherents of religions other than Christianity could dislike it. In another example, the instruction said that “man-made” should be dropped in favor of a gender-neutral “human-induced.”
The suggestions, which were released in late October on the order of European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli, were highlighted by the Italian newspaper il Giornale in late November.
The news triggered outrage among more conservative people, including many prominent public figures. The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, even called it an attempt at “cancellation of our roots, the Christian dimension of our Europe”.