Pope Francis speaks out against ‘cancel culture’

The Pope said it was a form of ‘ideological colonisation’ that suffocates freedom of expression

Maroosha Muzaffar
Tuesday 11 January 2022 18:42 GMT
Pope Francis said that cancel culture was invading many circles and public institutions

Pope Francis criticised so-called cancel culture during his annual address to the Vatican’s Diplomatic Corps, saying that it stifles freedom of expression and rewrites the past.

The Pope, during his address on Monday, warned of “a form of ideological colonisation, 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”.

“Cancel culture is invading many circles and public institutions. 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 people,” he said.

He added that “under the guise of defending diversity, it ends up cancelling all sense of identity”. He warned that this risks censoring voices that “defend a respectful and balanced understanding of various sensibilities”.

Cancel culture broadly refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for high-profile figures or enterprises after they have said or done something considered controversial or offensive.

For example, author JK Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter, has been “cancelled” by some former fans over her views on transgender rights. On the other hand, the removal of statues of historical figures associated with colonialism in countries such as the UK and the US has been described as cancel culture by critics who argue that it ignores the context in which those people lived.

Pope Francis also said that cancel culture was a form of “one-track thinking” and that “any historical situation must be interpreted in accordance with a hermeneutics of that particular time”.

“Diplomacy is called to be truly inclusive, not cancelling but cherishing the differences and sensibilities that have historically marked various peoples,” the Vatican leader said.

He, however, did not mention any examples of cancel culture in his speech – which was entirely in Italian.

His statement on cancel culture comes in the wake of the European Union’s draft document that urged all officials to say “holiday season” instead of “Christmas”. Some conservatives called this a result of cancel culture and an attempt to “cancel Christmas”.

In December, the Vatican’s number two – secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin – had also expressed concern over the EU draft. The manual was later withdrawn for revision.

On Monday, the Pope also condemned “baseless” ideological “misinformation” about Covid-19 vaccines and backed vaccinations. He said that getting inoculated against the coronavirus was a moral obligation.

Last week, Pope Francis said that people who adopt pets instead of parenting children were selfish. This was met with a backlash on social media across the world.

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