Pope Francis has lamented “cancel culture” in his address to diplomats at the Vatican.
Delivering his annual “state of the world” address on Jan. 10, the pope said that international organizations were increasingly pursuing “divisive” agendas at odds with the longstanding values of many countries.
“Not infrequently, the center of interest has shifted to matters that by their divisive nature do not strictly belong to the aims of the organization,” he said.
“As a result, agendas are increasingly dictated by a mindset that rejects the natural foundations of humanity and the cultural roots that constitute the identity of many peoples.”
“As I have stated on other occasions, I consider this a form of ideological colonization, one that leaves no room for freedom of expression and is now taking the form of the ‘cancel culture’ invading many circles and public institutions.”
While the pope delivered his address in Italian, he said the phrase “cancel culture” in English.
Speaking in the Apostolic Palace’s Hall of Blessings, the pope told representatives of the 183 states that have diplomatic relations with the Holy See that the “mindset” currently prevailing in international institutions ended up “canceling all sense of identity” while claiming to defend diversity.
He said: “A kind of dangerous ‘one-track thinking’ is taking shape, one constrained to deny history or, worse yet, to rewrite it in terms of present-day categories, whereas any historical situation must be interpreted in accordance with a hermeneutics of that particular time, not that of today.”
He went on: “Multilateral diplomacy is thus called to be truly inclusive, not canceling but cherishing the differences and sensibilities that have historically marked various peoples.”
“In this way, it will regain credibility and effectiveness in facing the challenges to come, which will require humanity to join together as one great family that, starting from different viewpoints, should prove capable of finding common solutions for the good of all.”
The pope did not offer any examples of the mindset he was deploring. But last month, he criticized a withdrawn document discouraging staff at the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, from using the word “Christmas.”
“The European Union must take in hand the ideals of the founding fathers, which were ideals of unity, of greatness, and be careful not to take the path of ideological colonization,” the pope told reporters as he flew home from Greece in December.
During the same in-flight press conference, he said it was vital to interpret a landmark report on abuse in the French Catholic Church over the past 70 years “with the hermeneutic of the time and not with ours.”
In his wide-ranging address, which lasted around 40 minutes, the pope reviewed his diplomatic activities in 2021 and touched on major global themes such as the coronavirus pandemic, immigration, climate change, and nuclear arms.
The live-streamed event in the gilded Hall of Blessings began with an address to Pope Francis by George Poulides, Cyprus’ ambassador to the Holy See and dean of the diplomatic corps.
“Thank you, Holy Father, for your untiring work, which is a source of hope for many peoples, for many men and women,” he said.
Speaking beneath a large tapestry depicting the nativity of Christ, the pope strongly endorsed COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.
“Sadly, we are finding increasingly that we live in a world of strong ideological divides,” he said. “Frequently people let themselves be influenced by the ideology of the moment, often bolstered by baseless information or poorly documented facts.”
“Every ideological statement severs the bond of human reason with the objective reality of things. The pandemic, on the other hand, urges us to adopt a sort of ‘reality therapy’ that makes us confront the problem head-on and adopt suitable remedies to resolve it.”
“Vaccines are not a magical means of healing, yet surely they represent, in addition to other treatments that need to be developed, the most reasonable solution for the prevention of the disease.”
The pope criticized what he called a “lack of resolute decision-making and clear communication” by the authorities amid the pandemic, which he said had created “a ‘social relativism’ detrimental to harmony and unity.”
He told the diplomats, who wore formal uniforms and face coverings, that he hoped to see renewed efforts so that “the entire world population can have equal access to essential medical care and vaccines.”
“I am aware of the difficulties that some states encounter in the face of a large influx of people. No one can be asked to do what is impossible for them, yet there is a clear difference between accepting, albeit in a limited way, and rejecting completely,” he said.
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