UN rights expert hails Vatican's rejection of 'Doctrine of Discovery'
The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, José Francisco Calí Tzay, praises the Vatican's rejection of the 'Doctrine of Discovery' and expresses hope that other governments follow Holy See's lead.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, José Francisco Calí Tzay, has welcomed the Vatican's recent rejection of the 'Doctrine of Discovery' and has expressed hope that other governments would follow the Holy See's lead, reported www.un.org.
The Doctrine of Discovery was a theory that served to justify the expropriation by sovereign colonizers of indigenous lands from their rightful owners.
“The doctrine of discovery," the Indigenous Peoples' rights expert acknowledged, "is still an open wound for many Indigenous Peoples around the world... It must be addressed as part of a reconciliation process between Indigenous Peoples and colonial States.”
In the article, the UN official commended the Vatican’s recognition of the harmful effects of colonization, including the pain the Indigenous Peoples have suffered, and welcomed Pope Francis’ exhortation to promote mutual respect and dialogue, and to abandon the colonizing mentality.
The Vatican, in a 30 March “Joint Statement” from the Dicastery for Culture and the Dicastery for Integral Human Development formally repudiated "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.’"
Thanks to dialogue with indigenous peoples, it wrote, “the Church has acquired a greater awareness of their sufferings, past and present, due to the expropriation of their lands … as well as the policies of forced assimilation, promoted by the governmental authorities of the time, intended to eliminate their indigenous cultures.”
The document stated that the “'Doctrine of Discovery' is not a part of the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
It further affirms that the papal bulls that granted such “rights” to colonizing sovereigns have never been a part of the Church’s Magisterium.
Issued eight months after Pope Francis' penitential journey to Canada, the text clearly reaffirms the Catholic Church's rejection of the colonizing mentality.
“In the course of history,” the document recalls, “the Popes have condemned acts of violence, oppression, social injustice, and slavery, including those committed against indigenous peoples.” It also notes the numerous examples of bishops, priests, women and men religious and lay faithful who gave their lives in defense of the dignity of those peoples.”
At the same time, it acknowledges that “many Christians have committed evil acts against indigenous peoples for which recent Popes have asked forgiveness on numerous occasions.”
Deborah Castellano Lubov