Pope Francis apologized for the Roman Catholic Church’s complicity in the oppression of indigenous peoples during the colonial era on Thursday, during his stay in Bolivia.
The Romero Institute applauds Francis’s sentiments and is hopeful this will result in the revocation of the spark that ignited this flame of abuse–the Doctrine of Discovery.
Created centuries ago in 1493, the Doctrine still acts as the spiritual endorsement for the dehumanization and slaughter of indigenous peoples, and the justification for imperialist economic ventures. Even today it permeates western ideologies and justifies unspeakable crimes that would otherwise have no moral or legal basis.
“I say this to you with regret: Many grave sins were committed against the native people of America in the name of God,” he said to an audience at the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
He called for a global social movement against “…an economy of exclusion and inequality,” which he calls “new colonialism.” This economic system, he says, has fostered materialism and the exploitation of the poor, while causing the destruction of our planet.
“Human beings and nature must not be at the service of money,” he said. “[the current system] has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature.”
Francis made clear he did not have the blueprints for an ideal economic-social-political system, but he did say the Gospel provides principles that can help. He stressed that the problems with the current system are apparent, and need to be reworked for the sake of humanity.
“Let us say no to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than service. That economy kills. That economy excludes. That economy destroys Mother Earth,” he said.
A few days ago in Ecuador, Francis referred to indigenous peoples as the most vital stewards of the environment while also acknowledging that they are the group most hurt by climate change and the unfettered pursuit of capitalism.
Yesterday in Bolivia, he said, “I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offense of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.”
Francis’s request for forgiveness requires a form of action in order to be received as genuine. In recognizing the “…many grave sins,” committed by the Catholic Church by being complicit during the colonial era, Francis surely understands that the 1493 Doctrine of Discovery caused this.
By revoking the Doctrine of Discovery, Francis would demonstrate to indigenous peoples that he truly wishes to make amends and move toward a future of cooperation necessary to save our planet.
The Romero Institute respectfully implores Pope Francis to revoke the Inter Caetera Papal Bull of May 4th, 1493, known as the Doctrine of Discovery.
Please visit our website and sign our petition to revoke the Doctrine of Discovery: http://www.romeroinstitute.org/projects/petition
Check out an article about our efforts in the National Catholic Reporter: http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/call-rescind-doctrine-discovery