Vatican: ‘Doctrine of discovery’ is not Catholic teaching


Pope Francis started his Canada trip by visiting the cemetery and chapel of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows in Maskwacis, Alberta, on July 25, 2022. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Mar 30, 2023 / 04:03 am (CNA).

Two Vatican departments issued a joint statement Thursday on the “doctrine of discovery” and the dignity and rights due indigenous peoples.

The statement said the legal concept of the “doctrine of discovery” is “not part of the teaching of the Catholic Church” and historical research shows certain papal documents “written in a specific historical period and linked to political questions, have never been considered expressions of the Catholic faith.”

“In no uncertain terms, the Church’s magisterium upholds the respect due to every human being,” the document said. “The Catholic Church therefore repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent human rights of indigenous peoples, including what has become known as the legal and political ‘doctrine of discovery.’”

The joint Vatican statement was published March 30 by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the Dicastery for Culture and Education.

It said the Church is committed to listening to indigenous peoples and fostering efforts for reconciliation and healing. In this context the Church heard the need to address the so-called “doctrine of discovery,” it added.

People from indigenous communities in Canada had urged Pope Francis last year to rescind the “doctrine of discovery.”

“The legal concept of ‘discovery’ was debated by colonial powers from the sixteenth century onward and found particular expression in the nineteenth century jurisprudence of courts in several countries, according to which the discovery of lands by settlers granted an exclusive right to extinguish, either by purchase or conquest, the title to or possession of those lands by indigenous peoples,” the Vatican explained.

“Certain scholars have argued that the basis of the aforementioned ‘doctrine’ is to be found in several papal documents, such as the Bulls Dum Diversas (1452), Romanus Pontifex (1455) and Inter Caetera (1493),” it continued.

While the statement said these papal documents are not considered expressions of the Catholic faith, it added that “the Church acknowledges that these papal bulls did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of indigenous peoples.”

“the Church is also aware that the contents of these documents were manipulated for political purposes by competing colonial powers in order to justify immoral acts against indigenous peoples that were carried out, at times, without opposition from ecclesiastical authorities,” the document said. “It is only just to recognize these errors, acknowledge the terrible effects of the assimilation policies and the pain experienced by indigenous peoples, and ask for pardon.”

The note also pointed out that there are numerous statements by the Church and popes upholding the rights of indigenous people, such as the 1537 bull Sublimis Deus by Pope Paul III, who wrote, “We define and declare [ … ] that [, .. ] the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the Christian faith; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.”

The prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, said in a separate note that the Vatican statement was part of an “architecture of reconciliation.”

He described the art of reconciliation as “the process whereby people commit to listening to each other, to speaking to each other and to growth in mutual understanding.”

The insights informing the statement, he added, are the fruit of a renewed dialogue between the Church and indigenous peoples.

“It is in listening to indigenous peoples that the Church is learning to understand their sufferings, past and present and our own failings. It is in cultural dialogue that we are committed to accompanying them in the search for reconciliation and healing. We have to live out the art of encounter,” the cardinal said.

The joint statement said “the Catholic Church strives to promote universal human fraternity and respect for the dignity of every human being” in fidelity to Christ’s mandate, and that is why Catholic popes throughout history “have condemned violence, oppression, social injustice, and slavery, including those committed against indigenous peoples.”

“There have also been numerous examples of bishops, priests, women and men religious and lay faithful who gave their lives in defense of the dignity of those peoples,” it said.

“At the same time,” it added, “respect for the facts of history demands an acknowledgement of the human weakness and failings of Christ’s disciples in every generation. Many Christians have committed evil acts against indigenous peoples for which recent popes have asked forgiveness on numerous occasions.”

According to the statement, in recent years, a renewed dialogue with indigenous peoples, including Catholic indigenous, has helped the Church to better understand their values, cultures, as well as past and present sufferings.

“As Pope Francis has emphasized, their sufferings constitute a powerful summons to abandon the colonizing mentality and to walk with them side by side, in mutual respect and dialogue, recognizing the rights and cultural values of all individuals and peoples. In this regard, the Church is committed to accompany indigenous peoples and to foster efforts aimed at promoting reconciliation and healing,” the document said.

During a July 2022 visit to Canada, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the harm done to indigenous Canadians by Catholics.

“I express my deep shame and sorrow, and, together with the bishops of this country, I renew my request for forgiveness for the wrong done by so many Christians to the indigenous peoples,” the pope said in a July 27, 2022 address, citing the Catholic Church’s role in running many of the country’s government-sponsored residential schools for indigenous children.

The encounter with top government officials and representatives of the indigenous peoples in Canada was part of a week-long “penitential pilgrimage” in which Francis also publicly apologized for the harm done to indigenous Canadians and repeatedly expressed his shame and sorrow.

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  1. Yes, and likewise, Cardinal Roche’s “discovery” that the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite has been “abrogated” by the Ordinary Form (the Novus Ordo)?

    The task now is to find one or more members of the indigenous First Nations who happened to be attached to the Latin Mass….The North American St. Kateri Tekakwitha and maybe some current tribal members come to mind. And, of course, in Latin America there’s most of Mexico following the apparition Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531, and those millions of conversions and their descendants.

    (Meanwhile, we endure Aztec Biden’s “discovery” of incoherent Catholicism, and who imposes his backward agenda to ritually abrogate millions of the unborn…)

  2. Let us not forget the good that has been done by means of the Catholic Church. Bringing people to accept Jesus Christ is the most noble gift that can be given. People may be downtrodden, yet if they have Christ they have riches beyond compare.

    When the Romans conquered what we call England, my ancestors would have been heathens. The Roman soldiers proclaimed the Gospel of jesus Christ to the eternal benefit of many. Let us try to love one another, not forgetting what Christ has done for us.

    Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

    1 Peter 1:7 So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

    Hebrews 11:40 Since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

    2 Timothy 2:11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;

    Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

    Genesis 45:5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.

    1 Peter 3:13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?

  3. If ever reparation were deserved it would be to the surviving Nez Perce Indian people for our government’s encroachment policy of allowing settlers on their lands, and the ruthless hunting down of Chief Joseph, a Catholic and the peaceful Nez Perce. A relentless pursuit despite the smaller number of Nez Perce warriors who showed greater bravery and ability than their pursuers.
    The Nez Perce finally were caught and massacred just short of the Canadian border in mid winter. They were refused surrender and were purposely slaughtered.

  4. Deuteronomy 33:17
    The majestic bull, his father’s first-born, whose horns are those of the wild ox With which to gore the nations, even those at the ends of the earth.” (These are the myriads of Ephraim, and these the thousands of Manasseh).

    It is Abraham’s great, great grandson Ephraim, through which the ‘Blessing of Abraham’ flows, even to this day. The evil ‘colonial’ imperial power that white race Pope Francis keeps talking about, is the Descendants of Ephraim, who are the white race, who presently have complete dominance, power and control, over Christ’s Catholic Church today. The white Vatican Gay Lobby, the white Galen Mafia, the white Vatican Freemasons, the white Vatican Bank Mafia, the white papacy for over 1300 years, are all ‘colonial’ Descendants of Ephraim, who are presently destroying the indigenous, mostly non-white traditional Faithful to Jesus’ culture of the members of our Catholic Church.

    The ‘End Times’ ‘Harlot of Babylon’ is the ‘colonial’ white race, Prodigal Son, Descendants of Ephraim, dominating over Christ’s Church, and the world, in the era of the Apocalypse. “The woman you saw is the great city which has sovereignty over the kings of the earth”, is the white race having ‘sovereignty’ on earth, via God’s gift of the Blessing of Abraham. The Prodigal Son, Rebellious to God, exiled from the Promised Land, Descendants of Ephraim have gravely distorted the ‘Blessing of Abraham’, to now abuse and persecute Christ’s Catholic Church on earth with their Progressive Liberal ideologies.

    Revelation 17:15
    The waters on which you saw the harlot enthroned are the large numbers of people and nations and tongues… REV 17:18 The woman you saw is the great city which has sovereignty over the kings of the earth.

    Revelation 17:1
    Then one of the seven angels who were holding the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come here. I will show you the judgment on the great harlot* who lives near the many waters. The kings of the earth have had intercourse with her, and the inhabitants of the earth became drunk on the wine of her harlotry.” Then he carried me away in spirit to a deserted place where I saw a woman seated on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names, with seven heads and ten horns. The woman was wearing purple and scarlet and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls. She held in her hand a gold cup that was filled with the abominable and sordid deeds of her harlotry. On her forehead was written a name, which is a mystery, “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” I saw that the woman was drunk on the blood of the holy ones and on the blood of the witnesses to Jesus.

    Because Abraham was faithful to God, God Blessed Abraham’s descendants above other descendants. The ‘Blessing of Abraham’ (Genesis 22:16-18) is: Will have Myriads of descendants (Joshua 17:14); Will have great wealth (Deuteronomy 33:13); Will have world dominant Power (Genesis 17:15); Will grow to become a multitude of nations (Genesis 48:17).

    So what we have to do, is to get ‘colonial’ Pope Francis to remove all ‘colonial” Descendants of Ephraim, who are the white race, from all top positions of power in the Catholic Church, and we will have removed the Apocalyptic ‘Harlot of Babylon’ from presently having power and control over Christ’s Catholic Church on earth.

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