UN Condemns Doctrine of Discovery

coloThe Doctrine of Discovery and its severe, lasting consequences for Indigenous Peoples across the world continues to spark debate at the highest levels of international diplomacy.

The most recent development came on January 14th, when the UN Council Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) called upon the Holy See to engage in meaningful dialogue with designated representatives of Indigenous peoples to address their concerns regarding the Inter Caetara of 1493 and its related papal bulls, known collectively as the “Doctrine of Discovery”.

The active efforts of the Apache-Ndee-Nnee Working Group, which submitted a comprehensive report detailing the ongoing effects of the Doctrine, were instrumental in bringing about UN acknowledgement.

The paper produced the working group argues millions of Indigenous Peoples lost their lives to due to the atrocities of colonization and domination by the European powers, actions which were “initiated, condoned and promoted” by the Catholic Church via the Doctrine of Discovery. The Working Group also condemns the role of missionaries and Church leaders in authorizing and encouraging enslavement, forced conversion and cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples.

The working group further asserts the damage caused by the Doctrine is not restricted to antiquity, and that the Papal decree, “continues to deeply and directly influence politics and policies, land rights, external identity determination, and judicial processes and decisions therein, regarding Indigenous Peoples.”

This report dovetails with the Romero Institute’s attempts to convince Pope Francis to revoke the Doctrine of Discovery, as it makes a strong case that the Doctrine of Discovery is a continuing injustice, and one that deserves to be urgently addressed. The fact the United Nations has endorsed the position of the Apache Working Group and the Romero Institute lend validation to the movement to have the Pope revoke the Doctrine.

The key to the UN CERD decree on this issue is the body’s demands not only for the Holy See to hold a “meaningful” and “high level” meeting with Indigenous representatives, but also that the Catholic Church subsequently provide evidence of “concrete follow-up measures” taken to address concerns raised in this meeting. The Romero Institute maintains one such follow-up measure should be a complete revocation of the racist doctrines that continue to affect policy in the United States, Canada and other regions.

While we recognize, the UN does not have governing authority over the Vatican, such an authoritative command by the foremost institution dedicated to international diplomacy is unquestionably a significant step toward making the Church address the atrocities committed in God’s name as a direct result of 15th century Papal encyclicals.

The Apache-Ndee-Nnee Working Group now joins the Episcopal Church, the Indigenous Law Institute, The Romero Institute and countless others in our shared quest for Pope Francis to officially rescind the Doctrine of Discovery and end its legacy of imperialism, white supremacy and domination. Through the collective action of many strong allies, we will see this corrupt Doctrine abolished, and justice served.

Romero Institute National press release: http://romeroinstitute.org/20150923

Romero Institute Press release in response to Laudato Si: http://romeroinstitute.org/20150619


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