Pope warns the EU not to take the ‘path of ideological colonisation’Pope compares EU to dictatorship for attempts to ban Christmas
Pope Francis has compared the EU to a dictatorship in its attempt to impose ‘woke’ rules on language.
The pope, 84, said the bloc risked falling apart if it became a vehicle for “ideological colonisation” as he left Greece following a four-day trip.
Brussels last week withdrew a 32-page guide on inclusive language that advised staff to say “human-induced” instead of “man-made” and to avoid reference to Christmas during the holiday season.
Facing an outcry, Helena Dalli, the European Commissioner for Equality, said the guidebook “clearly needed more work”.
Trying to ban such Christian terms amounted to “a fad, watered-down secularism,” Francis said. “It is something that throughout history has not worked.”
“In history, many dictatorships have tried to do these things. I’m thinking of Napoleon, the Nazi dictatorship, the Communist one.”
The pope said that while he believed the EU was “necessary”, it should not try to erase the different identities of countries within the bloc.ADVERTISING
“The European Union…must be careful not to take the path of ideological colonisation. This could end up dividing countries and causing the EU to fail.”
Francis, who was speaking on board the papal plane taking him back to Rome, said mandarins in Brussels “must respect…the variety of countries and not want to make them uniform. I don’t think it will do that…but be careful, because sometimes they come and throw projects like this one out there.”
The pope has earned a reputation for speaking his mind during these on-board press conferences with journalists who accompany him on his apostolic visits.
On his way back from Brazil in 2013 he famously said “Who am I to judge?” when asked about the role of homosexuals in the Catholic Church.
The Vatican was critical of the European Commission document when it emerged last week.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who as Secretary of State is the Vatican’s de facto prime minister, condemned any attempt to cancel “our roots, the Christian dimension of our Europe, especially with regard to Christian festivals.
“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,” the cardinal said.
In a wide-ranging exchange with journalists, Francis also urged caution in the “interpretation” of damning report into child sexual abuse by French Catholic clergy, saying a “historical situation” must be viewed in context.
A landmark inquiry overseen by an independent commission in October confirmed extensive sexual abuse of minors by priests in France dating from the 1950s to 2020.
“When we do this kind of study, we must be attentive to the interpretation we make of it,” he said.
“Abuse 100 years ago, 70 years ago, was brutality. But the way it was experienced is not the same as today,” he said.
“For example, in the case of abuse in the church, the attitude was to cover it up – an attitude that unfortunately still exists today in a large number of families.”
He added that the “historical situation” must be interpreted by the standards of the time.
The pope, who after the publication of the report expressed his “shame”, revealed he had not read it himself but would discuss it with French bishops when they visited him later this month.
Francis also said he was ready to travel to Moscow to meet the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church. It would be the first trip by a pope to Russia.
The pope has met Patriarch Kirill before – in 2016 they had an historic encounter on neutral ground in Cuba. It was the first meeting between the heads of the two largest Christian churches since Christianity split into Western and Eastern branches in the 11th century – an event known as the Great Schism.
“I am ready to go to Moscow, for a dialogue with a brother,” the pope said, adding that the meeting with Kirill was on a “horizon that is not far.”
The two sides have said they are willing to work towards unity but they are still far apart theologically and over what role the pope would play in an eventually reunited Church.
“We are brothers and we talk straight to each other. We do not dance the minuet,” Francis said.