A controversial European Union dossier detailing internal communication guidelines was accused of trying to “cancel Christmas” by the Vatican and European conservatives. The ‘Union of Equality’ recommended EU officials use the phrase “holiday period,” instead of “Christmas period” in a bid to “avoid discrimination and promote inclusivity”. However, furious pushback from Vatican officials and conservative politicians forced the EU into a humiliating U-turn.
Brussels quickly retracted the document, which the Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, said had been intended to showcase the “inclusive nature of the European Commission”.
EWTN’s Colm Flynn said: “This was intended for staff in very high positions in Brussels and Luxembourg as a guide for how they should communicate in press briefings and social media.”
The document was part of a plan championed by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to make sure that “everyone is valued and recognized” across the bloc.
The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, condemned the document, as he hit out at Brussels for trying to ban words like Christmas.
The document suggested replacing “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays,” and “Christmas holidays” with “winter break”.
The dossier also urged European Commission officials to “avoid assuming that everyone is Christian”.
The retracted guidelines read: “Not everyone celebrates the Christian holidays, and not all Christians celebrate them on the same dates.”
It also suggested using the phrase “first name” rather than “Christian name” and using names “Malika and Julio” instead of “Mary and John” to describe an “international couple”.
Cardinal Parolin said that the EU should be applauded for efforts to eradicate discrimination, but insisted this cannot mean the “cancellation of our roots, the Christian dimension of our Europe, especially with regard to Christian festivals”.
The senior Vatican official continued: “This is not the way to achieve this goal. Because in the end we risk destroying, annihilating the person.
“Of course, 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.”
Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, also hit out: “The European Commission, through an internal document, considers the Christmas celebrations as insufficiently inclusive.
“In the name of a sinister ideology, it wants to suppress the culture of a people. Our history and our identity can’t be cancelled, they must be respected.”
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Leader of Italy’s Lega party Matteo Salvini joined in the backlash, tweeting: “Mary, the mother. John, the father. Long live the holy Christmas. I hope that in Europe, no one will be offended.”
Even former European commissioner Antonio Tajani, a one-time president of the European Parliament, celebrated the EU’s later U-turn, tweeting: “Long live Christmas! Long live the Europe of common sense!”
The EU acknowledged that the document had backfired, with Ms Dalli saying: “The guidelines clearly need more work.”
The bitter war of words between the Vatican and the EU continued on Friday when Pope Francis Friday denounced the “culture of indifference” that Europe shows migrants.