ROME — Pope Francis said Monday that the European Union’s recent attempt to cancel Christmas is an “anachronism” more worthy of a Napoleon or a Hitler than modern Europe.
During the return flight from Greece to Rome Monday, Francis was asked what he thought of the recent E.U. document on “inclusive communication” that eliminated references to Christian holidays in favor of more generic holiday greetings and inclusive language.
“This is an anachronism,” the pope responded, noting how throughout history “many, many dictatorships have tried to do it” and failed. “Think of Napoleon… think of the Nazi dictatorship, the Communist one.”
“It is in vogue with watered-down secularism,” he continued. “But this is something that did not work during history.”
The new style guide was drafted by Helena Dalli of Malta, the European Commissioner for Equality, an LGBT activist. The document, titled “European Commission Guidelines for Inclusive Communication,” stipulates language to be used by Commission employees for all communications including press releases, social media posts, speeches, and training materials.
The 30-page manual mandates abandoning any references to Christian holidays in favor of generic expressions such as “winter break,” as well as more gender-neutral, LGBTQ+ friendly language.
As an example, the text directs employees to avoid the use of “Christian names” in hypothetical examples. Instead of “Mary and John are an international couple,” it states, one should rather say “Malika and Julio are an international couple.”
Along with its efforts to de-Christianize language, the manual also pushes the use of gender-neutral expressions.
“Our communication should never presume that persons are heterosexual, identify with their gender assigned at birth, or identify in a binary way (male or female),” it declares.
“Avoid terms like ‘both sexes’ and opening addresses with ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ so as not to exclude intersex persons and gender-queer people and not to make them invisible,” it reads.
When challenged about the document, Dalli said the text was a “work in progress” but defended her efforts to promote inclusivity.
“My initiative to draft guidelines as an internal document for communication by Commission staff in their duties, was intended to achieve an important aim: to illustrate the diversity of European culture and showcase the inclusive nature of the European Commission towards all walks of life and beliefs of European citizens,” Dalli said in her defense.
In his response Monday, Pope Francis also warned against efforts to homogenize Europe and the failure to recognize and respect cultural differences.
The European Union must “be careful not to lead the way to ideological colonization,” which could “bring down the European Union,” he said.
“The European Union must respect each country as it is structured inside, the variety of countries, without trying to standardize,” he said.
The EU has to be careful, “because sometimes they come along with projects like this one and they don’t know what to do,” he continued.
The European Union must “respect the singularity of each country,” he said, and be careful not to become a vehicle of ideological colonization.”