Opinion | World

Steven Newcomb: Pope Francis takes a first step with apology

Pope Francis, center, with indigenous youth and President Evo Morales in Bolivia. Photo by L'Osservatore Romano / Facebook

Steven Newcomb of the Indigenous Law Institute calls on Pope Francis to go beyond apologies and rescind the papal bulls that have been used to dominate Native peoples:
To be taken seriously, an “apology” or “begging of forgiveness” by Pope Francis, or any other pope, must be the basis for the papacy explicitly addressing the system of domination that the Holy See created and set into motion in the name of, “Him from whom empires, and dominations, and all good things proceed” (papal bull of May 3, 1493). That same system of domination is what ended up being spread by the Holy See and Christian monarchies, and missionaries such as Serra. To this day that system’s domination framework is still being used against our original nations and peoples.

This being the case, Pope Francis can show true courage and moral authority for the Catholic Church by taking a next logical step: Revoke those papal bulls that have resulted in the domination and dehumanization of our original nations and peoples. In 1993, the Indigenous Law Institute wrote a letter to Pope John Paul II calling on him to revoke the Inter Caetera papal bull of May 4, 1493 in representation of the entire series of papal documents. We wrote another to Pope Benedict XVI. We have maintained that campaign ever since the 1990s with the spiritual guidance and leadership of Birgil Kills Straight, an Elder and Traditional Head Man of the Oglala Lakota Nation, and with the solidarity of many Christian supporters throughout the world.

Given his statement of papal contrition in La Paz, Pope Francis has taken an important first step toward revoking the papal bulls of empire and domination. Yet, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. The pope has some choices to make regarding possible papal edicts. For the Church, a lot is riding on his decision.

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: Pope Francis Takes a First Step Toward Revoking the Papal Bulls (Indian Country Today 7/13)

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Gyasi Ross: Pope Francis issues apology to indigenous peoples (7/13)

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