Pope Francis has warned against attempts to nullify culture, decrying “one-way thinking” which he says attempts to deny or rewrite history by today’s standards.
Francis made his comments in an address to diplomats, the main thrust of which was condemnation of “baseless” ideological misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and the pandemic.
The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics said canceling culture amounts to “ideological colonization” and “leaves no space for freedom of expression”.
This is the second time in recent weeks that the pope has criticized the culture wars.
Last month, the Vatican expressed concern over a draft European Union communications manual that suggested not using the term Christmas and the use of the term man-made instead of man-made. .
The manual, which the Vatican saw as an attempt to undo Europe’s Christian roots, was later withdrawn for revision.
Pictured: Pope Francis has warned against attempts to cancel culture, decrying ‘one-way thinking’ which he says attempts to deny or rewrite history by today’s standards today
In his remarks on Monday, Francis warned against “a form of ideological colonization, which leaves no room for freedom of expression and now takes the form of the ‘cancellation culture’ which invades many circles and public institutions”.
He used the two words in English in the middle of a long speech in Italian.
The controversy over “cancellation culture” is particularly heated in English-speaking countries, particularly in Britain where debate has raged over the country’s imperialist history.
Proactive campaigns have seen the removal of several statues depicting historical figures who participated in the slave trade, such as Edward Colston.
Colston, a 17th century merchant, made his fortune trading in slaves, but continued to give so much money to philanthropy in Bristol that his name appeared throughout the city in streets, schools and a concert hall.
His statue was toppled by a crowd amid growing tensions over global outcry following the death of George Floyd in the United States.
The controversy over “cancellation culture” is particularly heated in English-speaking countries, particularly in Britain where debate has raged over the country’s imperialist history. Pictured: Activists throw the statue of Edward Colston, which had links to slavery, into the river in Bristol in 2020
Floyd was killed when white police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into his neck despite his desperate pleas that he “can’t breathe”. He passed out and later died in Minneapolis on May 25.
His death is seen as a symbol of systemic police brutality against African Americans, sparking outrage and largely peaceful protests first in the United States before quickly spreading around the world.
Other figures targeted in the UK include Cecil Rhodes, a statue whose activists are trying to have Oriel College removed from the University of Oxford.
Last year, Guy’s Hospital in London announced it would move the statue of founder Thomas Guy to a less prominent position because of its links to the slave trade.
Meanwhile, the National Trust released a research project which claimed to have found links to slavery and colonialism for 93 of its properties, including Chartwell – the former home of Winston Churchill – and the home of Rudyard Kipling.
Pope Francis, however, said the trend risks nullifying identity “under the pretext of defending diversity”, adding that a kind of “one-way thinking” is emerging, forced to deny history or, even worse , to rewrite it in terms of current categories.
Cecil Rhodes is another figure in British history who has been repeatedly targeted due to cancel culture. Pictured: The statue of Cecil Rhodes from Oriel Colleges at the University of Oxford
As well as removing the statues, some campaigners have also demanded changing the names of institutions such as schools and hospitals named after the historical figures, saying they reflect the impact of Britain’s colonialist history.
Although the pope did not mention any specific examples of cancel culture, he said any historical situation should be interpreted in the context of its time and not by today’s standards.
Last month, Pope Francis compared the EU to a “Nazi dictatorship” for trying to impose woke rules on language and ban the use of the word Christmas.
The 84-year-old pope warned the bloc not to “take the path of ideological colonization” upon returning from Greece after a four-day trip.
The EU has been accused of trying to ‘cancel Christmas’ after telling staff to avoid the word in favor of ‘holiday time’ because it could be offensive to non-Christians.
Eurocrats published the rule months ago as part of a guide to ‘inclusive communication’, details of which leaked, prompting a backlash.
Other suggestions in the book included replacing Christian names such as Mary and John with “international” names such as Malika and Julio when using them in generic examples, and swapping the word “man-made for “man-induced.”
The pontiff said the linguistic dictates, which the EU equality commissioner admitted ‘clearly need more work’, and said trying to ban the term Christmas amounted to ‘trendy, watered down secularism’ .
He said: “It’s something that throughout history hasn’t worked. In history, many dictatorships have tried to do these things. I think of Napoleon, the Nazi dictatorship, the communist dictatorship.
He added that the EU is “necessary” but must avoid stirring up divisions between its member states.