VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican on Thursday (March 30) responded to Indigenous demands and formally repudiated the “Doctrine of Discovery,” the theories backed by 15th-century “papal bulls” that legitimized the colonial-era seizure of Native lands and form the basis of some property laws today.A Vatican statement said the papal bulls, or decrees, “did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of Indigenous peoples” and have never been considered expressions of the Catholic faith.
The statement, from the Vatican’s development and education offices, marked a historic recognition of the Vatican’s own complicity in colonial-era abuses committed by European powers and was issued as history’s first Latin American pontiff, who has made remarkable apologies to Native peoples, was hospitalized with a respiratory infection.
Indigenous leaders welcomed the statement, even though it continued to take some distance from acknowledging actual Vatican culpability. The statement said the papal documents had been “manipulated” for political purposes by colonial powers “to justify immoral acts against Indigenous peoples that were carried out, at times, without opposition from ecclesial authorities.”
It said it was right to “recognize these errors,” acknowledge the terrible effects of colonial-era assimilation policies on Indigenous peoples and ask for their forgiveness.
The statement was a r …