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Pope Francis falls on plane steps after Greece visit
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The Pope hit out at the bloc for their recently released guide to inclusive language, which advised staff to avoid references to Christmas during the holiday season. He claimed the changes could cause the EU to fall apart, warning the bloc against going down “the path of ideological colonisation”. Speaking onboard the papal plane taking him back to Rome, Pope Francis said that an attempt to ban Christian terms amounted to “a fad, watered-down secularism.”
He added: “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.”
While he believes the EU is “necessary”, he warned it against trying to erase the different identities of countries within the bloc.
“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.”
He urged Brussels chiefs to “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.”
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Vatican, also condemned the guidebook.
He hit out at any attempt to erase “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 32-page document advised staff to “avoid assuming that everyone is Christian”, reminding them that not everyone celebrates “Christian holidays, and not all Christians celebrate them on the same dates”.
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Staff were also advised to use the word “holiday” instead of “Christmas”.
The guidance was also criticised by a series of politicians on the right, including the former president of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.
Mr Tajani tweeted: “Inclusion does not mean denying the Christian roots of [the EU].”
In response to the furore, the EU’s Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, who presided over the guidance, withdrew the document saying it “clearly needs more work”.
She said: “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.
“However, the version of the guidelines published does not adequately serve this purpose.
“It is not a mature document and does not meet all commission quality standards.
“The guidelines clearly need more work. I therefore withdraw the guidelines and will work further on this document.”
But Sophie in ’t Veld, a liberal Dutch MEP, said she was concerned by the sudden retreat on the issue, saying: “Commissioner Dalli deserves praise for having the courage to address the issue, be it in a somewhat clumsy way.
“The concerted misinformation and attacks on her by the far right and the subsequent response to these by the commission are concerning.
“We need to recognise that Europe and its institutions represent everyone.
“The institutions should be strictly neutral: let’s not forget the majority of Europeans are not religious.”
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