Pope Francis has been a frequent frustration to conservative Catholics, and conservatives generally.
But the pope likely scored some points with his critics after denouncing the European Union for trying to cancel Christmas.
The EU in late November released a 30-page paper advising European officials on “inclusive communication” regarding Christmas.
The guide produced by EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli purportedly revealed how to “use more gender-neutral, LGBTQ+ friendly language,” Politico reported.
The EU, Politico added, advised its officials to steer clear of references to Christmas in order to “avoid assuming that everyone is Christian.”
“Not everyone celebrates the Christian holidays, and not all Christians celebrate them on the same dates,” the EU document stated. It encouraged staff from using phrases such as “Christmas time can be stressful” in favor of sentences like “Holiday times can be stressful.”
European conservatives were justly outraged. But in a likely surprise for leftists, so was Francis, the most liberal pope in decades.
Francis criticized the document as a betrayal of Europe’s Christian roots and came out in defense of nationalism among European nations.
“This is an anachronism,” the pope said of the EU document while speaking to reporters, according to comments released by the Vatican.
“Throughout history, many, many dictatorships have tried to do so. Think of Napoleon. Think of the Nazi dictatorship, the Communist one… It’s a fashion of a watered-down secularism, distilled water… But this is something that hasn’t worked throughout history.”
“This makes me think of one thing, speaking of the European Union, that I believe is necessary: the European Union must take in hand the ideals of the founding fathers [of the EU], which were ideals of unity, of greatness, and be careful not to make room for ideological colonizations. This could lead to dividing countries and causing the European Union to fail.”
“The European Union must respect each country as it is structured inside,” Francis continued. “The variety of countries, and not wanting to standardize. … No, each country has its own peculiarity, but each country is open to others. European Union: its sovereignty, the sovereignty of the brothers in a unity that respects the singularity of each country. And be careful not to be vehicles of ideological colonization. For this reason, that intervention on Christmas is an anachronism.”
The pope’s criticism followed a denunciation by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, who told Vatican News the EU sought to “cancel our roots.”
“We know that Europe owes its existence and its identity to many influences, but we certainly cannot forget that one of the main influences, if not the main one, was Christianity itself,’ he said.
The EU has withdrawn the paper, saying its provisions “clearly require more work.”
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