Pope Francis holds the weekly general audience at the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican, January 5, 2022. (Remo Casilli/Reuters)

Pope Francis condemned cancel culture and discouraged Catholics from participating in it during an address to the Vatican’s Diplomatic Corps on Monday.

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

Cancel culture is a phenomenon in which people can be shunned from society or suffer reputational damage for saying what is deemed politically incorrect, the definition of which is dynamic and ever-evolving.

The Bishop of Rome noted that “under the guise of defending diversity, it ends up canceling all sense of identity.” The cost of this is suppressing those who merely  “defend a respectful and balanced understanding of various sensibilities,” he said.

He urged against judging historical people and events by contemporary standards, claiming that cancel culture is “one-track thinking” that ignores nuance and the development of humanity from past to present. Context is key, he suggested, adding that “any historical situation must be interpreted in accordance with a hermeneutics of that particular time.”

“Diplomacy is called to be truly inclusive, not canceling but cherishing the differences and sensibilities that have historically marked various peoples,” he said as his concluding message to the congregation.

The Pope has earned a reputation for commenting on political and cultural issues where his predecessors have been more reticent. In addition to warning against cancel culture, he also proclaimed that getting vaccination is a “moral obligation.” Last week, he argued that it’s selfish for couples to choose owning pets over having children, saying that it erodes our “humanity.” Parenthood is “among the highest forms of love,” he said, encouraging couples to consider adoption. 

In 2015, the Pope released an encyclical on ecology, titled “Laudato Si,” asserting the dangers of climate change, which he attributed to “human activity.”

The first Jesuit pope, Francis has received criticism from traditional Catholics for what they’ve perceived as attempts to dilute orthodoxy and observances to accommodate the modern world. For example, the Pope approved additional restrictions to the Latin Mass last month to ensure compliance with Vatican II, the conference ending in 1965 which modernized the church’s posture towards ritual and other religions.

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