Pope Francis Reverses Colonial-Era Doctrine: A Landmark Moment for Indigenous Reconciliation
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Pope Francis Reverses Colonial-Era Doctrine: A Landmark Moment for Indigenous Reconciliation

Thursday morning, Pope Francis made a historic announcement regarding the Catholic Church’s past treatment of Indigenous peoples. The announcement stated that the Church would be revoking the colonial-era concepts that legitimized the seizure of Indigenous people, land and way of life known as the Doctrine of Discovery. This move is significant for Indigenous communities, reconciliation efforts, and the Catholic Church, as they have been reluctant to acknowledge their role in the colonization of Indigenous lands.

“Today, I have mixed feelings. While I am pleased that the Vatican has finally and formally renounced the Doctrine of Discovery, my thoughts are with the Survivors and our ancestors who have experienced so much hurt due to the actions of the Catholic Church,” stated Grand Chief Jerry Daniels.

The Doctrine of Discovery was a series of papal bulls issued by the Catholic Church in the 15th century, which allowed Christian nations to claim and seize lands that were inhabited by non-Christians. This doctrine was used to justify the colonization and displacement of Indigenous peoples around the world, including the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

Pope Francis’ decision to revoke the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery is a significant step towards further acknowledgement the Catholic Church has caused irreparable damage to the Indigenous peoples. The Church has historically been complicit in the colonization of Indigenous lands, and this decision is a step towards recognizing that history and working towards reconciliation.

The Indigenous peoples of the Americas, in particular, have been impacted by the Doctrine of Discovery. The colonization of the Americas resulted in forced displacement, cultural assimilation, and genocide. The Catholic Church played a significant role in this process through the establishment of residential schools, where Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities and subjected to forced assimilation into European culture and religion.

“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 decision also comes after the Pope’s recent visit to Canada, where he formally apologized to Indigenous peoples for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system, which is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Indigenous children.

Pope Francis’ announcement to revoke the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery is a historic moment for the Catholic Church and Indigenous peoples around the world. It is a significant step towards acknowledging the harm caused by the Church’s past actions and working towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. This decision is another positive step for the Church to take responsibility for its actions and work towards healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Kingston Bailey
Kingston Bailey
Words are the greatest gift a person can give to society. When constructed well, they can bring about change, revolutions and unity. They should only be used to unite and uplift.