Saturday, December 6, 2008

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 their territories,….”

“The Papal Bulls have never been revoked, although indigenous representatives have asked the Vatican to consider doing so.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.

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