The European Commission on Tuesday retracted internal communication guidelines that had proposed substituting the “Christmas period” with “holiday period” after an outcry by conservatives and the Vatican, which termed the document an attempt to “cancel” Europe’s Christian roots.
The European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, said the draft document had been intended to highlight European diversity and showcase the “inclusive nature of the European Commission.” But in a statement, she said it didn’t meet Commission standards and failed to achieve its stated purpose.
“The guidelines clearly need more work,” she said, adding that a revised document would take into account concerns that had been raised.
Italian conservatives had voiced outrage about the document, claiming among other things that it was “cancelling Christmas.”
Even the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, intervened with an unusually sharp critique in a video Tuesday on the Vatican News portal. Parolin lauded efforts to eradicate discrimination in the bloc but said initiatives can’t involve the “cancellation of our roots, the Christian dimension of our Europe, especially with regard to Christian festivals.
“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,” he said.
Antonio Tajani of Italy’s centre-right Forza Italia party and the president of the constitutional affairs commission of the European Parliament hailed the retraction of the guidelines.
“Viva Natale!” (“Long live Christmas!”), Tajani tweeted. “Long live a Europe of common sense.”