Pope: Indians were 'silently longing' for Christianity
Pope Benedict has angered Indian leaders in Brazil for saying their ancestors welcomed Europeans because they were "silently longing" for Christianity.

On the last day of his visit to Brazil, the Pope spoke to Latin American and Caribbean bishops on Sunday. He cited the "rich religious traditions" of Indian people but said their ancestors were seeking God "without realizing it."

The Pope also suggested that Christianity was not detrminental to Indian culture. "In effect, the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture," he said.

Jecinaldo Satere Mawe, the chief coordinator for Coiab, an Indian rights group in Brazil, called the comments "arrogant and disrespectful." Dionito Jose de Souza of the Makuxi Tribe said the Pope was trying to erase the "dirty work" of colonization. Sandro Tuxa, another Indian leader, called them "offensive, and frankly, frightening."

Get the Story:
Pope Benedict addresses Latin American Bishops Conference (Independent Catholic News 5/15)
Brazilian indigenous groups criticize pope's comments (Pravda 5/15)
Brazil's Indians Offended by Pope Comments (Reuters 5/14)
Anger at Pope's Brazil comments (BBC 5/14)
Pope Cites Church's Regional Challenges (The Washington Post 5/14)
The Pope Denounces Capitalism and Marxism (The New York Times 5/15)