There is lots of well-deserved positive press about the Pope right now. That’s great! We like much of what we hear.
POPE FRANCIS speaking in Bolivia [translated:] “I say this to you with regret: Many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God. My predecessors acknowledged this, CELAM has said it, and I, too, wish to say it. Like Saint John Paul II, I ask that the church “kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters.” I would also say, and here I wish to be quite clear, as was Saint John Paul II: I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.”
Great speech, but what about renouncing the long standing “Doctrine of Discovery”? The popes issued a number of papal bulls (That means they’re basically the word of God) in the mid- to late 1400s and very early 1500s. These Papal Bulls said that the indigenous people are pagans, savages and heathens, that the indigenous people have no soul, indigenous people are the enemies of Christ, that we should be cast into perpetual slavery, and that all indigenous people’s property and possessions should be taken. Doctrine of Discovery — the more than 500-year-old decree that allowed European explorers to enslave Native Americans. The doctrine called for explorers to declare war on all non-Christians during colonial times. These still remain in place and have not been rescinded or rebuked.
Apparently the forgiveness of sins that Pope Francis asked for in Bolivia doesn’t include California, because the same Pope Francis just fast tracked the Canonization of Junípero Serra, an 18th century Spanish priest who helped Spain colonize California. Serra’s canonization has been questioned by many Native Americans who consider him the father of a colonial system that led to the systematic death of about 100,000 Native Americans; in other words genocide.
In 1769, the Roman Catholic Church ordered him to what is now California to force the Native American population there to convert to Christianity. Serra himself founded nine missions, and 12 more were built after his death in 1784. The Native Americans were lured or many times were taken from their homes by Spanish soldiers to labor in the Missions. All of the Native Americans who came to the missions were forced to abandon their native languages and identities in favor of Spanish ways of life and the Roman Catholic faith.
From the Huffington post; “I believe that Junípero Serra actually created and brought genocide to the California Indian people,” Corrina Gould, co-founder of Indian People Organizing for Change and an Ohlone tribal member, told The Huffington Post. “In less than 100 years, our way of life, our language, our foods — everything — was destroyed.”
Indeed, the real miracle, she said, is that the descendants of “any of the California Indians that were pushed into those California missions, those slave encampments, are alive today.”
“The truth of this history needs to be told, especially in California,” Gould said. “They are still building those little missions in schools today, and in doing so they continue to perpetuate genocide against California Indians.”
some of our sources for this post: international business times, Huffington Post, Amy Goodman & democracy now