The Loretto Community calls upon Pope Francis to formally rescind the 15th century “Doctrine of Discovery” papal bulls. These papal bulls provided moral grounding for the brutal European conquest of indigenous people and lands in the name of Christian evangelization. The Community stands in unity with Native American people of the United States and indigenous people throughout the world who continue to suffer the ramifications of the Doctrine of Discovery initiated through these papal bulls.
The Loretto Community’s Papal Bull Rescission Committee is carrying out the work of education and action on this issue. Their primary tasks include:
· Creating and sharing educational materials for the Community to come to a fuller understanding of the systemic oppression suffered by indigenous people of the world.
· Tracking this issue at the United Nations and keeping the Community informed of actions to take to support this issue at the international level.
· Exploring and implementing ways of collaborating with groups in Denver working on this issue.
· Collaborating with other congregations of religious women as well as our sister communities in Ghana and Guatemala. [See news release here.]
· Sending a letter of request to the pope for rescinding the pertinent papal bulls. [See the Loretto Community’s letter here.]
What is the Doctrine of Discovery?
Today’s relationships between governments and indigenous people in the Americas, Africa and Oceania have as their foundation the “Doctrine of Discovery.” It is a principle of international law with roots dating back to 15th century papal bulls. These decrees largely were used to justify Western Europe’s dominion over lands occupied for thousands of years by indigenous peoples. They made possible the European age of “discovery,” sanctioning and promoting the conquest, colonization and exploitation of non-Christian lands and peoples.
What is a papal bull?
A papal bull is a formal proclamation issued by the pope.
What are the Doctrine of Discovery papal bulls?
The Dum Diversis Bull of 1452 granted the Pope’s blessing “to capture, vanquish and subdue the Saracens, pagans and other enemies of Christ and put them into perpetual slavery and to take all their possessions and their property.” The Inter Caetera Bull of 1493 granted the authority to Spain and Portugal to “take all lands and possessions” so long as no other Christian ruler had previously claimed them.