Bishop supports apology on papal bulls that justified Indigenous oppression

The National Catholic Reporter:

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Bishop Douglas Lucia, whose downtown Syracuse office sits on the ancestral lands of the Onondaga Nation, hopes to meet with Pope Francis “to re-examine” 15th-century Vatican documents that justified colonization, land takeovers and oppression of Indigenous peoples.

In the last decade, numerous congregations, denominations and faith-based organizations — including several women’s religious communities — have urged the Vatican to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, which asserts European Christianity’s superiority and power over other lands.

Lucia appears to be the first U.S. Catholic bishop to publicly call for the Vatican and the U.S. Catholic Church to acknowledge the damage those documents caused and apologize for harming Indigenous peoples in the United States.

Link to article:



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  1. Ger Hopkins says:

    Thanks for the link Soline.

    One line from it really stands out:

    “Editor’s note: It may seem like papal statements from 500 years ago are ancient history.”

  2. Eddie Finnegan says:

    As soon as Pope Francis gets out of hospital, I’ll be sending him a demand for a new papal bull retracting the English Pope (H)Adrian IV’s 1155 bull ‘Laudabiliter’ and his successor Alexander III’s 1172 additional green light to Henry II’s Overlordship of John Bull’s other island. And when he’s done that, there’s the further matter of Innocent XI’s 1690 funding and support of William of Orange’s foreign adventures – and he might also persuade his friend Cardinal Christoph Schonborn to issue an overdue apology for the Solemn Te Deum sung in Vienna’s Stephansdom Cathedral in thanksgiving for King Billy’s victory at the Boyne. With the Twalth flegs and bonfires due on Sunday night, Christoph might like to mention this in his Sunday morning homily at St Stephen’s. [Austrian Pastors’ Initiative please copy.]

  3. Sean O'Conaill says:

    How can Christian European imperialism and expropriation be repudiated by the church without beginning far earlier than 1452?

    In 408 St Augustine of Hippo misused Jesus’s words in the parable of the great banquet in St Luke’s Gospel – ‘compel them to come in’ (Luke 14: 23) – to defend the use of state power to suppress the Donatist heresy. (The Letter to Vincentius)

    Where Jesus was simply reiterating his teaching that the last – i.e. the poorest – will be first in the kingdom of God – Augustine used these words – ‘compel them to come in’ – to justify state coercion in the defence of orthodoxy. Over and over again in the following centuries that became the standard defence of the most appalling oppressions of Christendom, including the Inquisitions.

    What other defence was needed of the fifteenth century papal approval of European expropriations of lands in Africa and the ‘New World’, when Augustine’s hugely influential exegesis of Luke 14:23 lay to hand?

    That teaching was implicitly reversed by the 1964 Vatican II Declaration on Religious Freedom – in its first article’s insistence that the truth can convey itself only by virtue of its own truth.

    It is time, surely, to make that reversal explicit, in a repudiation of Augustine’s mistake. Christendom will not truly be over until the distortions of the truth and the Gospel that very soon followed the Constantinian shift in 312 are finally tracked to their source and owned up to.

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