The Catholic Church’s Doctrine of Discovery

The Doctrine of Discovery and Discriminatory Laws

The roots of the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential schools can be traced back to the Doctrine of Discovery. This papal bull, issued in the 15th century, proclaimed that any non-Christian people discovered by European explorers were to be vanquished, subdued, and brought to the faith. This directive became the basis for centuries of discriminatory laws in both Canada and the United States.

Historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz explains that the Church and State were both colonizers and had economic interests in mind. They wanted the labor of native people, and to get that, they had to convince the Holy Roman Empire and the Pope that these people had souls. This led to legal debates in Spain about whether Indigenous Americans had souls or not. The Church and State saw this as a quest for domination, looting, taking wealth, and controlling the people.

Residential Schools in Canada

The government of Canada established residential schools in the 19th century with the aim of forcibly removing Indigenous children from their families and communities to assimilate them into Euro-Canadian culture. The schools were in operation for more than a century, and during this time, many children suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to be taking care of them.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to uncover the truth about the residential school system and to work towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. The Commission found that the inspiration for residential schools came from the desire to assimilate Indigenous people into Canadian society.

Impact on Indigenous Communities

The impact of the residential school system on Indigenous communities is still felt today, with many survivors and their families experiencing intergenerational trauma. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report included 94 calls to action, including a public apology from the Pope for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system.

The impact of the British Church in South Africa in 1994

The forced adoption of Canadian Law/ Constitution in 1994 by educated blacks was brutal for native South Africans, given its fundamental history on the Doctrine of Discovery. This period marked a victory for the Catholic Church/Vatican/British enslavers and a final nail in the coffin for native blacks. They were officially made Catholics/Christian State and made to sing Nkosi Sikelela Africa, a Wales Song Aberystwyth written by Joseph Parry. The indigenous Law and order were officially destroyed and made ceremonial by the Catholic Church and Vatican in South Africa. This was a significant blow to the indigenous people’s cultural and social identity, as they were forced to abandon their traditions and adopt the beliefs of the oppressors. The adoption of the Canadian Law/ Constitution was a clear indication of how the native South Africans were stripped of their rights and forced to conform to the dominant group’s ideals.

It is important to acknowledge that the imposition of Canadian law and the adoption of Christianity by force in South Africa was not an isolated event, but rather a part of a larger pattern of colonialism and cultural domination that occurred throughout the Southern Sahara region. Indigenous peoples were often forced to abandon their own cultures and practices in favor of those of their colonizers, leading to the erasure of their histories and identities. This process was facilitated by the church and other religious institutions, who played a significant role in perpetuating the myth of Western superiority and justifying the subjugation of native populations. It is crucial to acknowledge the ongoing impact of these actions and work towards redressing the harm that has been done.

Why the Pope Owes an Apology to Africa and the Return of Stolen Artifacts

If the Pope were to issue an apology to Canada for the harm caused by the residential school system, it would also be appropriate for him to apologize to Africa for the harms caused by colonization and the exploitation of its resources. In addition to an apology, it would also be important for the Vatican to take responsibility for the theft of African artifacts and return them to their rightful owners. Such an action would be a meaningful step towards acknowledging the harm that has been done and working towards reparations and reconciliation.

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1 thought on “The Catholic Church’s Doctrine of Discovery”

  1. Wow such cruelty.. and we’ve been praying holding a Bible all these years 🤦🏿‍♂️

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