The Pope's remarks whitewashed the genocide of Indigenous Peoples
- by Thomas Dahlheimer
On May 9, 2007 Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Brazil for his first
visit as pope to Latin America, where more than half of all Catholics
live. During his visit he made perverse and morally obscene remarks
which described the genocidal destruction of the Western Hemisphere's
pre-Columbus cultures as a "purifying" act which gave the indigenous
peoples just what they were "longing" for. His historical revisionism
whitewashes genocide, ethnocide, slavery, land theft, and the
continuing subjugation of Indigenous Peoples.
The Pope declared that "the nations of Latin America and the
Caribbean" were "silently longing" to receive Christ as their savior.
Colonization by Spain and Portugal was not a conquest, but rather
an "adoption" of the Indians through baptism, making their
cultures "fruitful" and "purifying" them. Accordingly, "the
proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve
an alienation of the pre-Columbian cultures, nor was it the
imposition of a foreign culture."
In a United Nations World Conference against Racism document there
are statements that radically contradict the Pope's
remarks. "Historians and academics agree that the colonization of the
New World saw extreme expressions of racism - massacres, forced-march
relocations, the 'Indian wars', death by starvation and disease.
Today, such practices would be called ethnic cleansing and genocide."
"In the fifteenth century, two Papal Bulls set the stage for European
domination of the New World and Africa. Romanus Pontifex...declared
war against all non-Christians throughout the world, and specifically
sanctioned and promoted the conquest, colonization, and exploitation
of non-Christian nations and their territories. Inter
Caetera...officially established Christian dominion over the New
World. It called for the subjugation of the native inhabitants and
"The Papal Bulls have never been revoked, although indigenous
representatives have asked the Vatican to consider doing so.
These 'doctrines of discovery' provided the basis for both the 'law
of nations' and subsequent international law. Thus, they allowed
Christian nations to claim 'unoccupied lands' (terra nullius), or
lands belonging to "heathens" or "pagans". In many parts of the
world, these concepts later gave rise to the situation of many Native
peoples in the today - dependent nations or wards of the State,..."
According to Pope Benedict the invasion and conquest of the Americas,
which caused the deaths of upwards of 90 percent of the indigenous
population of around 100 million, was something the natives had been
pining for all along. They weren't just "asking for it," as some male
rapists depict the women they raped. They were actually "longing" for
it, since salvation and "purification" came with it. The Pope's logic
is similar to the following statement. If a man brutally rapes a
woman and she gives birth to his child she should be grateful and
thank the rapist for raping her since their child came with it.
In the wake of (1.)...the United Nations statements about the Roman
Catholic Church being primarily responsible for the genocide
committed against Indigenous Peoples, and (2.)...nation states such
as Australia and Canada recently apologizing for the atrocities
committed against Indigenous Peoples in their nations, and
(3.)...U.S. Senator Sam Brownback's sponsored May resolution which
acknowledges a long history of official depredations and ill-
conceived policies by the United States Government regarding Indian
tribes and offers an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the
United States, a resolution that is making its way through Congress,
and (4.)...the U.S. Colorado state government passing a resolution in
April which compared the deaths of millions of American Indians to
the Holocaust and other acts of genocide around the world, and
(5.)...the recent Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission's admittance
that Minnesota committed ethnocide and genocide against Natives
during its early history...the Pope and other high ranking Catholic
officials are, unquestionably, looking at dealing with another
upcoming big scandal, a scandal that will make the pedophile priests'
sex scandal cover up look like a drop in the bucket.
Hopefully, Pope Benedict XVI will soon formally revoke the 15th
century papal bulls which were primarily responsible for the horrible
atrocities committed against Indigenous Peoples and then lead the
Catholic Church and Western "Civilization" through a process of
radical transformation, and by doing so, lead humanity into a new
age, wherein Indigenous Peoples will be given their due respect.