The head of the Roman Catholic Church condemned “cancel culture” on Monday, decrying what he called “ideological colonization” that ostracizes certain cultures and individuals, such as those who are pro-life, from global conversations and solutions to a myriad of problems. Pope Francis’s comments came during an annual address to diplomats and ambassadors from around the world, who met Monday morning at the Vatican.
The pope’s speech touched upon a wide range of topics, including migration and the “moral necessity” of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Regarding international decision making, Pope Francis claimed that “for some time now, multilateral diplomacy has been experiencing a crisis of trust, due to the reduced credibility of social, governmental and intergovernmental systems. Important resolutions, declarations, and decisions are frequently made without a genuine process of negotiation in which all countries have a say.”
“This imbalance, now dramatically evident, has generated disaffection towards international agencies on the part of many states; it also weakens the multilateral system as a whole, with the result that it becomes less and less effective in confronting global challenges,” he added.”
“The diminished effectiveness of many international organizations is also due to their members entertaining differing visions of the ends they wish to pursue,” he continued. “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. 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,” the pope warned.
“Under the guise of defending diversity, it ends up canceling all sense of identity, with the risk of silencing positions that defend a respectful and balanced understanding of various sensibilities,” he added. “A kind of dangerous ‘one-track thinking’ [pensée unique] 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 the light of a hermeneutics of that particular time, not that of today.”
“Multilateral diplomacy is thus called to be truly inclusive, not canceling but cherishing the differences and sensibilities that have historically marked various peoples,” the pope remarked.
The pope claimed that world leaders and different countries must come together under dialogue for solutions, which is only possible through “reciprocal trust and willingness to dialogue,” which requires “listening to one another, sharing different views, coming to agreement, and walking together.”
“Dialogue is the best way to realize what ought always to be affirmed and respected apart from any ephemeral consensus,” he added. “Nor should we overlook ‘the existence of certain enduring values. Those are not always easy to discern, but their acceptance makes for a robust and solid social ethics. Once those fundamental values are adopted through dialogue and consensus, we realize that they rise above consensus.”
“Here I wish to mention in particular the right to life, from conception to its natural end, and the right to religious freedom,” the pope observed.
As noted by the National Catholic Register, the pope did not mention any specific example in his speech on Monday. Still, he had recently criticized the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, for not using the word “Christmas” on official documents. In the face of widespread outcry and the censure of international figures, EU leadership backtracked.
“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 had told reporters.